Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says he believes President Barack Obama does not love the United States — or the people in it.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said Wednesday during a private group dinner in Manhattan, Politico reports. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
The event was attended by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, and “60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types,” according to Politico.
The former mayor failed in his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Walker is currently considering his own run for the White House.
“With all our flaws, we’re the most exceptional country in the world,” Giuliani 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,” he added. “And if it’s somebody else, I’ll support somebody else.”
Earlier this week, Walker lashed out at Obama while dismissing criticism that he dropped out of college.
“That’s the kind of elitist, government-knows-best, top-down approach we’ve had for years,” Walker told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Tuesday. “We’ve had an Ivy-trained lawyer in the White House for six years who’s pretty good at reading off the TelePrompTer but has done a pretty lousy job leading this country.”
On “Fox & Friends” Thursday, Giuliani clarified his criticism of Obama but did not walk back his dinner comments.
“Well, first of all, I’m not questioning his patriotism. He’s a patriot, I’m sure,” Giuliani said. “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. ... I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American presidents. 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.”
Later Thursday, the White House responded to Giuliani — sort of.
Asked about the former mayor's remarks aboard Air Force One, deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said he agreed with Giuliani about one thing: "It was a horrible thing to say."
Other Democrat operatives denounced Giuliani's comments, too, calling on Walker to do the same.
"I rarely agreed with President Bush," Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, "but I never questioned his love for our country."
Walker, for his part, declined to comment on the matter.
"The mayor can speak for himself. I'm not going to comment on what the president thinks or not," Walker said on CNBC. "I'm in New York. I'm used to people saying things that are aggressive."