John McCain Announces Candidacy at College Professor's Home

Asheville, NC (AP) – John S. McCain, a former Navy combat pilot, today announced his candidacy for State Senate at a fundraiser in Asheville. The gathering was held at the townhome of Eric R. Rudolph, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.

“We’re excited about McCain’s candidacy and are confident that he’ll be an excellent senator,” said one attendee of the fundraiser who asked to remain anonymous. Others, however, were less excited and questioned Mr. McCain’s decision to launch his campaign from the home of such a controversial figure as Mr. Rudolph.

Mr. Rudolph is perhaps most famous for committing a series of bombings across the southern United States in the 1990s, mostly of abortion clinics. His most notorious offense, however, was the bombing of Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Summer Olympics. That blast killed a spectator and injured over 100 others. Federal charges brought against Mr. Rudolph were dropped due to prosecutorial misconduct.

Mr. McCain and Mr. Rudolph formerly served together on the board of the Asheville Dobson Challenge, an educational foundation formed by Mr. Rudolph which distributed funds to local homeschool groups and private Christian schools in the late 1990s. Mr. Rudolph successfully lobbied for a $50 million grant from Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family to fund the foundation. Mr. McCain was the chairman of the foundation, which was dissolved in the early 2000s after failing to achieve any notable results.

Mr. Rudolph now teaches social science courses at the Asheville campus of the University of North Carolina, and the Asheville Mayor has described him as “a valuable member of our community.” However, Mr. Rudolph has stated as late as 2001 that he does not regret the bombings, saying, “I wish I’d done more to stop the travesty of abortion.”

Though one of his campaign advisers previously described Mr. McCain’s relationship with Mr. Rudolph as “friendly,” Mr. McCain himself downplayed the association, saying “He’s just a guy who lives in my neighborhood. Anyone who brings up his past acts are just using baseless attacks in a vain attempt to distract from the pressing issues currently facing everyday Americans.”