In a New York minute, Ed Koch has a change of heart on Obama

Just two weeks ago, former New York Mayor Ed Koch was telling city voters to elect a Republican to Congress, to “send a huge message to President Obama that we’re not happy with how he’s dealing with Israel.”

Now, one speech to the United Nations and a one-on-one chat later, Koch is an enthusiastic backer of the same president’s reelection.

The one-time Democrat tells his supporters that it’s all water under the Ed Koch Queensborough Bridge.

“I’m now on board the Obama Reelection Express,” he says in an email to supporters.

Bob Turner, elected on Sept. 13 to fill the seat once held by Democratic Anthony Weiner, had made an issue in his campaign of Obama’s position that Israel’s borders before the 1967 Mideast war should be the baseline for peace talks, leaving unmentioned the caveat that there should be mutually agreed land swaps that would take into account the new realities on the ground.


That earned the endorsement of Koch, who in a recorded phone message to voters in the Jewish-heavy district said that signaling dissatisfaction with Obama’s position was the “most important” reason to back Turner.

Koch now says he thinks Turner’s win had the desired effect, pushing the U.S. to come out against a vote for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations and to return to direct negotiations with Israel.

In a subsequent interview with the New York Times, Koch says that “whatever rift existed before -- and there was one -- that’s gone,” and that he’s ready to convince Jewish voters that Obama’s the best candidate.

“His speech at the U.N. in support of Israel was extraordinary. I couldn’t have made a better one myself,” he told WNBC-TV in New York. “I have shoes and will travel to Florida or any place they want to go.”

Koch told The Times that he also had a chance to speak with Obama at a reception the president hosted at the New York Public Library after the U.N. General Assembly. Obama made a remark, Koch said, about Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican presidential contender who lambasted the president’s Israel policy in New York last week.

Koch wouldn’t say what exactly Obama said, but said he told Obama that Perry could hardly lay claim to the Jewish vote.

“I said to him: ‘Mr. President, that’s the one guy you won’t have to worry about. Jews will never vote for anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution.’”