Rick Perry continued his string of gaffes during this Monday night's Fox GOP primary debate when he suggested that Turkey "is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists." Needless to say, Perry's remarks aren't sitting to well with the Turkish media.
In a statement e-mailed to CNN, Selcuk Unal said presidential candidates should "be more informed about the world and be more careful their statements."
"The unfortunate views of Perry are not shared in any case by Republican party supporters, considering the weak support he has received in public polls and primary elections," Unal concluded.
Top Turkish government officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday, with many of them in Northern Cyprus for the funeral of veteran Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas, but the country's largely-tabloid press wasted no time in responding to the comments on websites early Tuesday morning.
"The debate that the Republican candidate Rick Perry attended on American Fox TV turned into a scandal that contained very ugly statements about Turkey," announced TRT state television.
"Rick Perry: what an idiot," tweeted Mustafa Akyol, a columnist with the English-language Hurriyet Daily news. The Hurriyet newspaper also posted a video on its website of Perry drawing a blank in the middle of a prior debate, forgetting in mid-sentence which was the third of three government departments he would cut if elected president.
Perry's remarks came on the same day a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman announced that a new NATO radar station, manned by Turkish and American military personnel, went online this month in the Turkish province of Malatya. The radar station is part of a controversial U.S.-led missile defense shield that both Russia and Iran have publicly opposed.
For more than 50 years, Turkey has been the only Muslim member of the NATO military alliance. Read on...
For the record, Turkey is a democracy, a key U.S. ally, and a member of NATO. The country is not run by terrorists.
When this guy drops out, it’ll be bad for comedy, but almost certainly good for democracy.
Full transcript below the fold.
BAIER: Governor Perry, since the Islamist-oriented party took over in Turkey, the murder rate of women has increased 1,400 percent there. Press freedom has declined to the level of Russia. The prime minister of Turkey has embraced Hamas and Turkey has threatened military force against both Israel and Cypress. Given Turkey’s turn, do you believe Turkey still belongs in NATO?
PERRY: Well, 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. Not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.
PERRY: And you go to zero with foreign aid for all of those countries. And it doesn’t make any difference who they are. You go to zero with that foreign aid and then you have the conversation about, do they have America’s best interest in mind? And when you have countries like Turkey that are moving far away from the country that I lived in back in the 1970′s as a pilot in the United States Air Force that was our ally, that worked with us, but today we don’t see that.
Our — our — our president, has a foreign policy that makes our allies very nervous and emboldens our enemies. And we have to have a president of the United States that clearly sends the message, whether it’s to Israel, our friend and there should be no space between the United States and Israel, period.
PERRY: And we need to send a powerful message to countries like Iran, and Syria and Turkey that the United States is serious and that we’re going to have to be dealt with.