Republicans try to use Oxford don to smear Barack Obama

Republicans try to use Oxford don to smear Barack Obama

The Republicans have made a last-minute attempt to prevent Barack Obama’s ascent to the White House by trying to recruit an Oxford academic to “prove” that his autobiography was ghostwritten by a former terrorist.

With two days before the election, Obama is poised to become America’s first black president, according to polls showing he has an average six-point lead over John McCain, his Republican opponent.

Dr Peter Millican, a philosophy don at Hertford College, Oxford, has devised a computer software program that can detect when works are by the same author by comparing favourite words and phrases.

He was contacted last weekend and offered $10,000 (£6,200) to assess alleged similarities between Obama’s bestseller, Dreams from My Father, and Fugitive Days, a memoir by William Ayers.

Ayers, now a university professor in Chicago, co-founded the Weathermen, a radical 1960s underground group that bombed government buildings in Washington and New York. The Republicans accuse Obama of “palling around” with him.

The offer to Millican to prove that Ayers wrote Obama’s book was made by Robert Fox, a California businessman and brother-in-law of Chris Cannon, a Republican congressman from Utah. He hoped to corroborate a theory advanced by Jack Cashill, an American writer.

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