Former New York City Mayor Edward Koch, a Democrat, will for the first time in his life vote for a Republican presidential candidate this year because he feels Kerry “doesn’t have the stomach” to fight terrorism, Koch told WorldNetDaily.
“While I don’t agree with Bush on a single domestic issue, they are all trumped by the issue of terrorism, where he has enunciated the Bush Doctrine and proven his ability to fight this war,” said Koch. “The Democratic Party just doesn’t have the stomach to go after terrorists.”
Koch, now a partner in a Manhattan law firm, was mayor of New York from 1978-89, and served for nine years as a U.S. congressman until 1977. He’s known for his liberal views on various issues, including his staunch support of same-sex marriage and leftist ideas for the economy and environment.
While he has in the past deviated from conventional liberal thinking, strongly supporting the death penalty and taking a hard line on “quality of life” issues, Koch has always supported Democratic presidential candidates.
But the former mayor says he was sickened by what he witnessed at the Democratic National Convention last month and now feels the Democratic Party is moving in the wrong direction.
“I saw Kerry surrounded by radical politicians like [former President Jimmy] Carter and [Sen. Ted] Kennedy. … I know Kerry will succumb to their pressure if elected. They are with Kerry not because they like him, but because their true candidate Howard Dean couldn’t get elected, and they wanted someone who they can have elected and dominate,” charged Koch.
“As long as Kennedy and Robert Byrd are considered major leaders of the Democratic Party, and while we’re seeing radical candidates like Howard Dean, whose radical-left supporters have been described by the press as ‘Deaniacs,’ the Democratic Party will be limited in its ability to serve the country well in times of crisis and war like we face now.”
Koch thinks Kerry is putting on a facade by campaigning as tough on terrorism, and worries the Democratic nominee plans to pull American troops from Iraq prematurely, signaling to al-Qaida and terror-supporting Mideast dictators that the U.S. doesn’t have the will to fight terrorism.
“Kerry says now that he’d stay in Iraq, but the people who support him would get out tomorrow. If he’s president, they would pressure him to do that,” Koch said. “They don’t care what Kerry says now. They believe he is saying things simply to ingratiate himself with mainstream Democrats and some Republicans.”
Koch has been impressed with Bush’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks, and says terrorism must rank as the most important issue for voters in the November elections.
He says he supports Bush because “I think the Bush Doctrine of pre-emption is crucial. Bush says ‘We will go after the terrorists and the countries that harbor them.’ And he has demonstrated that he means it by invading Afghanistan and Iraq, both threats to their regions and to the U.S.”
The security of Israel is another major issue for Koch, who is proud of his Jewish heritage and says he is frightened by the “prospects of disaster” in the Middle East if Kerry is elected president. Koch says he “cannot understand why Jews who care about Israel would vote Democrat this year.”
“Look at what Kerry said before the Council on Foreign Relations, where he made his foreign-affairs positions known. He said if he were president, he’d select James Baker and Jimmy Carter as emissaries to Israel. They are two of the most hostile politicians toward Israel! These are the last people you’d send if you cared about the Jewish state and the Middle East.
“And when Kerry was accosted by Jewish leaders for saying that, he claimed he hadn’t seen that part in his speech, that it was inserted at the last minute by staff people. Now as a politician, I know you read this kind of speech dozens of times. He knew it was in there. So Kerry doesn’t tell the truth, either.”
Many Jews feel Carter and Baker have taken a consistently pro-Palestinian line, and some were worried by Carter’s comments at the convention, where he linked the Bush administration’s policy toward Israel to anti-American sentiment.
“Violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region increasingly swept by anti-American passions,” Carter told the convention in a prime-time speech many Democrats said marked his revival as a central figure in the party.
Koch says he found it “both interesting and disturbing” that Kerry omitted any reference to Israel during his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention.
“But I am convinced that President Bush will never trade Israel’s special relationship with the U.S. for political support, be it domestic or international. Bush is probably the most supportive of Israel of any U.S. president in history. I doubt John Kerry and the Deaniacs who now embrace him would have the same resolve.”
Koch points to Bush’s isolation of Arafat, and his viewing of Israel as a strategic partner in the war on terror as positive foreign-policy elements.
Koch says he plans to campaign for Bush among the Jews of New York and South Florida in the coming two months. He says he will write a flurry of op-eds in Jewish newspapers, and has already started hitting the airwaves, talking to several Jewish radio shows, including Israel’s Tovia Singer Radio Show, which many American Jews follow online.
“You see, I was elected mayor because New Yorkers trusted my insights and common sense,” explains Koch. “And I believe they still do. They and the rest of America must realize Islamic terrorists want to destroy us, and there are hundreds of millions of them. I want a president who is willing to go after them before they have the chance to kill us.”