Anti-Turkey Perry throws in the towel
CHARLESTON, South Carolina / BRUSSELS
Texas Gov Perry irks Ankara by saying Turkish is being ruled by ‘terrorists.’ REUTERS photoTexas Gov. Rick Perry, who drew Ankara’s ire after saying Turkey was run by “Islamic terrorists,” will abandon his presidential bid and endorse former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination, two party officials said yesterday.
Perry was scheduled to speak at a news conference yesterday, but he had not yet commented on his reasons for abandoning race as the Hürriyet Daily News went to press.
In response to a question by a Fox News moderator who alleged that Ankara had militarily threatened Israel and Greek Cyprus, Perry said during a Jan. 16 presidential debate in South Carolina that Turkey should be kicked out of NATO. “Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then yes, [they should be kicked out],” Perry said.
Perry entered the race last August to great fanfare and high poll numbers. But his standing quickly fell after a series of mistakes called into question whether the Texas politician was ready for the national stage. Recent polls show Gingrich gaining steam heading into Jan. 21’s South Carolina contest, but he still trails frontrunner Mitt Romney by about 10 percentage points.
Perry’s biggest error came in a nationally televised debate in early November, when he could not remember the name of the third Cabinet department he pledged to eliminate. “Oops,” he said. Making fun of himself afterward, he told reporters: “I stepped in it.”
Recently his remarks on Turkey received reaction from Ankara as well as NATO’s head.
Perry’s remark that Turkey was run by “terrorists” was “baseless and inappropriate,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
“I strongly disagree with these statements,” he said at a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Jan. 18. “I have noted that the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Perry’s comments were baseless and inappropriate, and I fully agree.”
Rasmussen and Davutoğlu were meeting to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Turkey and Greece joining NATO. Rasmussen said Turkey and NATO strengthen each other in reference to the Cold War era and the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
Rasmussen said Turkey would continue its contributions by hosting the “vital missile defense radar as part of NATO’s territorial missile defenses.”
“NATO has been one of the main pillars in the strategic planning and vision of Turkey. And Turkey has been one of the main contributors to NATO in efforts toward regional and global peace,” Davutoğlu said at the press conference, adding that Turkey’s contributions would continue.
Davutoğlu also confirmed he would welcome Rasmussen to Turkey in February.