Rudy Giuliani, after declaring at a private dinner Wednesday night that he thinks President Barack Obama's policy decisions and public remarks about terrorists show that he "doesn't love you, and he doesn't love me," and most of all, he doesn't think the president "loves America," took to the airwaves Thursday to expand on that statement.
"Well, first of all, I’m not questioning his patriotism. He’s a patriot, I’m sure," the former New York City mayor told "Fox and Friends.
" "What I’m saying is, in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things that I used to hear Bill Clinton say about how much he loves America."
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His comments on the Fox News program came the morning after his blistering comments
at a private dinner that was set up for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 GOP candidate, to meet with key potential supporters, reports Politico.
"He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up, and I was brought up through love of this country," said the former New York City mayor Wednesday night.
Thursday morning, Giuliani softened the blow slightly, but did not retract what he told the dinner guests on Wednesday night.
"I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American presidents," he said on the Fox News program. "And when it’s not in the context of an overwhelming number of statements about the exceptionalism of America, it sounds like he’s more of a critic than he is a supporter."
The comments drew a swift reaction from both Democratic partisans and the administration.
"I'm just sorry to hear that. I find it wrong in every possible way that it could be wrong" said Rick Stengel, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, in an interview on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
"I think the president loves the country in an extraordinary way. He's an American exceptionalist, but with a slightly different attitude," said Stengel. He pointed to Obama's remarks at the White House's summit on countering violent extremism as an example of the president seeking to get other countries to follow the United States.
"Our job is not to tell you what to do, our job is to be a partner — that's a different vision of American power and role in the world and that is the vision for American power in the 21st century," Stengel said.
Giuliani on Thursday also criticized Obama's statements in a Los Angeles Times
opinion piece this week, saying the president's characterization of extremism was "a very, very damaging statement."
"You see, if you don’t call it something, you can’t connect the dots," Giuliani said. "If you can’t connect the dots, you can’t really combat it militarily ... If you refuse to say that there are extremist members of the Islamic religion, well then, it sounds like you’re living on Mars."
On Wednesday night, Giuliani was one of the speakers at a private function held at Manhattan's tony "21" club, where supply-side economists Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer, and Stephen Moore were expected to host Walker, sources told The Washington Post
The dinner was planned to help boost Walker's relationships with business-friendly conservatives.
The dinner itself was sponsored by billionaire supermarket owner and former Republican New York mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, and was to feature a roundtable discussion with Walker, the hosts, and other power players, reports The Post.
But the outspoken Giuliani quickly took center stage, while stopping just short of endorsing a Walker campaign to the powerful audience, according to Politico.
"With all our flaws we're the most exceptional country in the world," he said. "I'm looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that and carry it out. And if it's you, Scott, I'll endorse you. And if it's somebody else, I'll support somebody else."
In an interview after the dinner, while Walker's aides insisted the governor's comments would remain off the record, Politico reports, Giuliani continued with his criticism of Obama, who he said "sees our weaknesses as footnotes to the great things we've done."
"What country has left so many young men and women dead abroad to save other countries without taking land?" the former mayor said. "This is not the colonial empire that somehow he has in his hand.
"I've never felt that from him. I felt that from [George] W. [Bush]. I felt that from [Bill] Clinton. I felt that from every American president, including ones I disagreed with, including [Jimmy] Carter. I don't feel that from President Obama."
Giuliani pointed out that while he was mayor, he did not hold back while condemning major episodes in the early 1990s, when Jews were targeted in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.
But Obama, who cited the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition during the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month as examples of extreme acts committed in the name of religion, is different, said Giuliani.
"I thought the Crown Heights riots were a pogrom because you're going out trying to kill Jews," Giuliani said Wednesday. "Why is this man incapable of saying that? You've got to be able to criticize Islam for the parts of Islam that are wrong. You criticize Christianity for the part of Christianity that is wrong.
"I'm not sure how wrong the Crusades are," he continued. "The Crusades were kind of an equal battle between two groups of barbarians. The Muslims and the crusading barbarians. What the hell? What's wrong with this man that he can't stand up and say there's a part of Islam that's sick?"
Meanwhile, Walker, rather than discussing Obama, went after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has already dropped out of competition, reports the New York Daily News.
"The big thing I thought Mitt Romney's campaign missed, more than anything, was we already knew the narrative that the economy was failing, and that there was a compelling case to get rid of the president," Walker said. "What we never heard — or at least didn't hear very clearly — was why Mitt Romney would be a better alternative."
Walker was careful to separate himself from Romney during Wednesday night's speech and to paint himself as a new face with "big, bold" ideas, and he took the opportunity to criticize the problems that led to Romney's defeat to Obama in 2012.
"One of the big mistakes that I and [Iowa Gov.] Terry Branstad and other Republican governors thought the Romney campaign made was, you've got all these Republican governors talking about how much better things were in our states after the 2010 elections, and then those same states — in my case, after I spent $37 million on a recall election — you had the Romney campaign coming in and telling them how awful things were because of Barack Obama's economy," said Walker.
Instead, the better argument would have been to say, "look how much better it got — imagine how much better it would be if you put a Republican in charge of the federal government ... they didn't do that," Walker said.
Speaking to Bloomberg Politics Thursday evening, Giuliani stepped back on the harsh Obama comments he made Wednesday night.
When pressed over whether he stood by his remarks about Obama's love of the country, Giuliani softened his tone.
"Well actually, if I could express it more clearly, what I mean is he doesn’t express it," Giuliani said. "I shouldn’t say that the president does or does not love anything. I don’t know, I’m not a psychiatrist, and he doesn’t have one and he doesn’t need one."
Yet Giuliani also wavered, noting that he's made the same accusation several times over the last several years, and arguing that Obama's past comments reveal someone who has trouble expressing love for America, stating, "that’s the impression I get from what he says, yes."
He added that Obama "seeks to criticize [America], more than uplift it, and doesn’t get the notion of American exceptionalism."
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