MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - In response to a question about whether or not Turkey should still be a part of NATO, Rick Perry suggested some consider the country to be ruled by "Islamic terrorists."
"Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists," Perry said during the debate.
Victoria Coates, foreign policy advisor to Perry, further explained the governor's remarks, saying that some view the leaders of Turkey as Islamic terrorists due to their support of Hamas and the flotilla against Israel.
"The governor was responding to the questioners references to violence against women and to association with Hamas, I think both of which are things that many people do associate as he said with Islamic terrorists," Coates told reporters in the spin room. "He was referring to those things, and while he would welcome the opportunity to work with Turkey on regional issues like Syria or Iraq, this kind of behavior on the part of that country is disturbing and I think we should concerned about it."
Asked if the leaders of Turkey have performed any actions which place them in the category of Islamic terrorists, Coates responded: What he said was that many people associate that kind of behavior with that of Islamic terrorists. I think also their support for the flotilla against Israel this fall. It's deeply concerning, and I think it's something any future American president needs to be aware of."
Coates said Turkey is an important country as the country serves as a "hinge point between east and west," and is a NATO ally.
"It is certainly a topic he would cover in debate prep, particularly in terms of Syria. I believe what he's mentioned it before its been in terms of coping with the Syria crisis and then also as I said as a NATO ally," Coates said.