60s Radicals Become Issue in Campaign of 2008

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On March 6, 1970, a bomb explosion destroyed a Greenwich Village town house, killing three members of the radical Weather Underground and driving other members of the group even deeper into hiding. On Wednesday night, those events emerged as the focus of a sharp exchange between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama at their debate in Philadelphia.

Mr. Obama was asked by a moderator, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, about his relationship with Bill Ayers, a former Weather Underground leader who is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In the early 1970s, the Weathermen, who took their name from a line in a Bob Dylan song, claimed responsibility for bombing the Capitol, the Pentagon, the State Department Building and banks, courthouses and police stations.

Mr. Ayers is married to Bernardine Dohrn, another Weather Underground figure. Both were indicted in 1970 for inciting to riot and conspiracy to bomb government buildings, but charges were dropped in 1974 because of prosecutorial misconduct, including illegal surveillance.

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