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After months of tap-dancing around the issue, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch on Tuesday announced his endorsement of Barack Obama for president.
Koch had been an ardent backer of Hillary Clinton until the senator dropped out of the race. Since then, the former mayor had not backed either Obama or John McCain.
Koch's endorsement says, in part, "I have concluded that the country is safer in the hands of Barack Obama. Protecting and defending the U.S. means more than defending us from foreign attacks. It includes defending the public with respect to their civil rights, civil liberties and other needs."
He then goes on to talk about Republican nominee John McCain's pick for his running mate, Sarah Palin.
"Sarah Palin is a plucky, exciting candidate, but when her record is examined, she fails miserably with respect to her views on the domestic issues that are so important to the people of the U.S., and to me," said Koch in the statement. "Frankly, it would scare me if she were to succeed John McCain in the presidency."
On Tuesday night's "Inside City Hall" on NY1, Koch continued to criticize Palin.
"The VP candidate for the republicans, Sarah Palin, she's a scary lady," said Koch. "And by that, I reference the fact that when she was mayor of the city she was governing, she went into the library and said she wanted certain titles removed and censored. I don't want this on a national scale."
Koch, a lifetime Democrat, has often crossed party lines in key races, endorsing George W. Bush for president in 2004, Rudolph Giuliani for mayor in 1993, and Michael Bloomberg for re-election in 2005.
He said he's prepared to campaign for Obama in swing states, including Florida.•
Following is the former mayor's full endorsement:
"The time has come to declare whom I will be voting for.
When I made my decision four years ago and supported the reelection of George W. Bush, I said at the time the overwhelming issue for me was international Islamic terrorism, including al-Qaeda. The goal of Islamic terrorists was and still is to reestablish the Caliphate encompassing most of the Muslims living in a host of nations from Spain to Indonesia and placing them under a single religious leader with full authority over the civil affairs of the countries, in the style of Iran. That goal includes the deaths or forced conversions of Christians and Jews as infidels or the payment by them of tribute, and the elimination of the State of Israel.
In 2004, I concluded that the one person running for president who understood that danger best and was prepared to fight it and defend America and its allies was George W. Bush. Even though he is now at a low ebb in popularity, I have no regrets for having campaigned and voted for him. I said at the time I didn’t agree with him on a single domestic issue and so far as I can currently see that is still true with the exception of drilling for oil off our coasts and building nuclear energy plants.
I believe that Bush and Tony Blair, Bush’s main international ally with regard to the war in Iraq and against Islamic terrorism, will be redeemed by history. President Harry Truman was reviled when he left office, but is now honored for his courage and vision.
Now, once again, I have to make a decision to either endorse the Democratic ticket of Obama and Biden or support the Republican ticket of McCain and Palin. I am 83 years old. If I am lucky, I may yet vote not only in this election, but in the presidential election of 2012 and perhaps, if luckier, even in that of 2016. I believe I must vote my conscience, and that means for the presidential candidate who in my estimation will best protect the U.S. over the next four years.
I personally know two of those running: Joe Biden and John McCain. I like and admire them both. John McCain is a genuine war hero and patriot. Joe Biden is a friend well versed in foreign and domestic affairs, who had made judgment calls on domestic and foreign policy and legislation that I agree with. I do not personally really know the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, having spoken to him only once and briefly, or the Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.
One foreign policy issue that particularly concerned me in 2004 was the security of Israel. I thought in 2004 that issue was better left to President George W. Bush, and I believe I was right. President Bush understood the need to support the security of Israel and did so. I did not feel that way about Senator John Kerry.
That is not an issue in this election. Both parties and their candidates have made clear, before and during this election campaign their understanding of the need to support Israel and oppose acts of terrorism waged against it by Hamas and other Muslim supporters of terrorism.
So the issue for me is who will best protect and defend America.
I have concluded that the country is safer in the hands of Barack Obama, leader of the Democratic Party and protector of the philosophy of that party. Protecting and defending the U.S. means more than defending us from foreign attacks. It includes defending the public with respect to their civil rights, civil liberties and other needs, e.g., national health insurance, the right of abortion, the continuation of Social Security, gay rights, other rights of privacy, fair progressive taxation and a host of other needs and rights.
If the vice president were ever called on to lead the country, there is no question in my mind that the experience and demonstrated judgment of Joe Biden is superior to that of Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is a plucky, exciting candidate, but when her record is examined, she fails miserably with respect to her views on the domestic issues that are so important to the people of the U.S., and to me. Frankly, it would scare me if she were to succeed John McCain in the presidency.
I reiterate the question each of us must answer in making our choice, who will best protect and defend America, domestically and with respect to the literal defense of the country? I hope I’ve made the right decision but only time will tell.
Whoever wins should and, I hope, will, following the election, receive the support of all Americans, no matter how they voted, especially in these perilous times. God Bless America and the next president and vice president of the U.S."