Koch on Perry: Nice that he supports Israel, but what kind of person doesn’t believe in evolution?

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Ed Koch. (Reid Pillifant)
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A week after he helped catapult Bob Turner to Congress on a pro-Israel, anti-Obama platform, former mayor Ed Koch explained why Rick Perry's speech yesterday—which touched on many of the same themes as the Turner campaign—won't be enough to earn his support.

"There's nothing wrong with Governor Perry's remarks in my judgment," Koch said, after a press conference this morning on redistricting reform. "I mean, it's a partisan operation at this point. The Republicans versus Democrats. And I'm hopeful that both sides, Republicans and Democrats, will join together in support of Israel. I don't want it to become what they call a wedge issue."

Koch, a Democrat, has supported Republicans many times in the past, including Perry's gubernatorial predecessor, George W. Bush, in 2004. ("I'm very proud of that," Koch reiterated this morning.)

But in Perry's case, Koch said the problem wasn't simply the governor's "Ponzi scheme" comments about Social Security, a program Koch made sure Bob Turner supported before offering his endorsement in the Ninth Congressional District.

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"What bothers me about the governor's statements is the following: When he called Social Security a Ponzi scheme, he could make a case for that, of taking money and using it to pay the current bills," Koch said. "But he should have gone forward and said that 'while I don't think it's solvent, I'm going to make it solvent.' Because Social Security is probably the most beloved federal program in this whole country. If I were him, I would now find a way to make it solvent."

That wasn't the only problem.

"What bothered me—related to my support, lack of support—is that he says that he doesn't believe in evolution. That's very hard for me to take. He also says he doesn't believe in global warming. I could accept that. I happen to believe in global warming, but there are some scientists that support his position. But I don't think there are any scientists who support his evolution position. That's why I said, on that basis, I couldn't dream of supporting such a candidate."

Koch said he wasn't sure whether President Obama had gotten the message on Israel, and he was unbothered by the prospect that the issue might help elect a Republican president in 2012.

"So what?" he said.