4:27 pm Sep. 27, 2011
After making a pro-Israel protest movement out of Bob Turner's campaign in New York's Ninth Congressional District (against an pro-Israel Orthodox Jew, as irony would have it), Ed Koch announced today that he's fully "on board the Obama Reelection Express."
Koch told NBC New York he would travel to Florida or wherever they need him to proclaim the president's virtues (which might help counteract any anti-Obama campaigning by Dov Hikind, one of Koch's erstwhile partners in Turner's cause).
Among other things, Koch cited the president's pro-Israel speech at the United Nations, which left Obama's Republican and Likud critics at a loss for uncharitable words and muddied the narrative that the president has a special Jewish problem.
Even Turner, who has Koch and discontent with the White House among the Jews in his district to thank for his seat in Congress, had no complaints with the speech.
"I thought it was the right speech at the right time," Turner told me after a pro-Israel rally outside the United Nations yesterday. "Mayor Koch and I were both pleased."
Turner was one of eight members of the New York delegation (along with three likely 2013 mayoral candidates) who rallied on East 43rd Street yesterday.
Turner was featured in the press release announcing the rally, along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, touting the bipartisan nature of the event. (Hudson Valley Republican Nan Hayworth was the other Republican.)
Kirsten Gillibrand told me she thought Obama had affirmed his pro-Israel credentials with the speech.
"President Obama stands with Israel and I think the speech he made at the U.N. is very clear that he is not only going to stand as a longtime friend and ally, but that he will continue to preserve and grow the unbreakable bond between Israel and America," said Gillibrand. "We stand by Israel, and I think the American people know that."
When I asked Representative Charlie Rangel about the speech and the president's appeal to pro-Israel voters, he said it was in the best interests of Israel to have a Democratic president, and downplayed the possibility of Republicans pulling Jewish votes.
"This whole issue may be done for political reasons by them, but I don't think it's going to have that much of a political effect," he said.