Obama also lashed McCain for focusing on Ayers on a day of dramatic economic turmoil, calling the issue a "red herring."The President of the United States is a very powerful position with a great influence over the lives of Americans for the next four years and beyond. The American people can not predict what will happen in the future. They can only guess what qualities that a President will need to be able to do the best job possible. In making these decisions, they are placing a large amount of trust that such individuals will have the judgement to make the best decisions possible.
It is incomprehensible to many Americans how being friends with William Ayers, an unrepentant anti-American terrorist, would be the best decision possible for anyone in power or who seeks to be in power. They are looking for Obama to provide them with an honest answer to the nature of the relationship with William Ayers so that they can understand why Obama felt the relationship was appropriate. If Obama does not want to provide the answer, and instead, continues to call such questions a distraction, the American people will be forced to make judgements about the nature of the relationship without input from Obama.
Those judgements will presumably be very harsh towards Obama. The American people, very well, might conclude that if they can not trust Obama to be smart enough to make sound judgements in who he has professional relationships with, that they should not trust him with the power to write budgets, sign laws into effect and make appointments that will have great influence over their lives for the next four years and beyond.
Update: Mark Halperin at Time magazine poses a question about the relationship to an Obama spokesman in a way that needs to be addressed. Peter Wehner at Commentary wants Mark Halperin's question put directly to Obama.
Steve Sturm (via Instapundit) uses an argument via analogy to make the case that questions about Obama's relationship with William Ayers are a red herring. I disagree with Steve. Steve thinks the dynamic of the race are such that there is nothing McCain can do to win. I disagree. Steve has not taken undecided voters into account. As long as Obama is less than 50% in the polls (which he is), enough undecided voters remain to make McCain President.
As I argued previously, I think the remaining undecided voters will do one of two things: either vote for McCain, or stay home. So, raising questioning about the relationship is about convincing "soft" Republicans that the cost of not voting is too high.