MnIndy interview: Dick Durbin on Bill Ayers, the bailout and race

MnIndy interview

Dick Durbin on Bill Ayers, the bailout and race

 

Dick Durbin is the senior Senator from Illinois and is currently seeking a third term in office. He’s being challenged by Republican Steve Sauerberg, but polls have consistently shown the incumbent with a commanding lead. Durbin was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and introduced him at the Democratic National Convention in August. Today he was in Minnesota stumping for his fellow Illinois legislator. I spoke to him by phone. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation.

MI:In recent days we’ve heard a lot about Bill Ayers from the McCain campaign. What do you make of those attacks?

DD: It doesn’t have legs. What it boils down to is Bill Ayers’s wrongdoing occurred when Barack Obama was eight-years old and was a kid in grade school. To any way associate Barack with Ayers, besides a few meetings on a charitable board, is an exagerration. As Rahm Emmanuel said recently, if you’re going to hold Barack Obama accountable for what happened when he was eight-years old, you should hold Sen. McCain accountable for what happened when he was 58-years old, which happens to be the Keating Five scandal.

MI:You’ve had similar attacks waged against you by your Republican opponent, accusing you of actions that “embolden the enemy.” What impact do you think those have had on your own contest?

DD: I was kind of surprised that my opponent went to that level, first saying that he thought I was unpatriotic and then saying that somehow I endangered our troops. We had a debate over it last night in Galesburg. I said to him, I just don’t think this is gonna work doctor. I don’t think the American people are going to buy this. They’re more interested in what we’re going to do to end this war and bring our troops home safely. They’re more interested in what we’re going to do to get this economy back on its feet. This kind of name calling I think is for the bottom feeders of the American political scene.

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