Ed Koch, ex-mayor and icon of NYC chutzpah, dies (+video)
Ed Koch, described as bald and bombastic, rescued New York City from near-financial ruin during his three terms as mayor of the city. Ed Koch died at 88.
Former Mayor Ed Koch, the combative, acid-tongued politician who rescued New York City from near-financial ruin during a three-term City Hall run in which he embodied the city's chutzpah for the rest of the world, died Friday. He was 88.
The larger-than-life Koch, who breezed through the streets of New York flashing his signature thumbs-up sign, won a national reputation with his feisty style. "How'm I doing?" was his trademark question to constituents, although the answer mattered little to Koch. The mayor always thought he was doing wonderfully.
Bald and bombastic, paunchy and pretentious, the city's 105th mayor was quick with a friendly quip and equally fast with a cutting remark for his political enemies.
"You punch me, I punch back," Koch once memorably observed. "I do not believe it's good for one's self-respect to be a punching bag."
Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement Friday that although they disagreed on many things, Koch "was never a phony or a hypocrite. He would not patronize or deceive you. He said what he meant. He meant what he said. He fought for what he believed. May he rest in peace."
The mayor dismissed his critics as "wackos," waged verbal war with developer Donald Trump ("piggy") and mayoral successor Rudolph Giuliani ("nasty man"), lambasted civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and once reduced the head of the City Council to tears.
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