Bill Ayers Speaks: 'Life Happens'

11/15/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As his name was tossed back and forth Tuesday in the fury of the presidential campaign, 1960s radical William Ayers spent the day as he often does, working quietly as a professor and trying to ignore the political tempest.

Officials at the University of Illinois at Chicago say Ayers is on a previously scheduled sabbatical, but he was on campus Tuesday, sitting on a lunch-hour doctoral dissertation panel.

The man who was a Weather Underground member and decades later had dealings with Barack Obama is being increasingly cited by John McCain's supporters, who accuse Obama of "palling around with terrorists." Obama's campaign counters that McCain is using "smears" involving Ayers to distract voters from the economic crisis.

When the Tribune caught up with Ayers on Tuesday, he had no interest in joining the unpleasant conversation.

"What could I possibly add?" he asked from the door to his office. "Life happens."

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