Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”
The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists.
“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 during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “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.”
With Walker sitting just a few seats away, Giuliani continued by saying that “with all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world. 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.”
In an interview after the dinner – Walker aides insisted all of the governor’s comments were off-the-record – Giuliani said he would “eventually” back a Republican presidential candidate. He also elaborated on his criticism of Obama by arguing the president “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? 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 then recalled his own comments condemning several major episodes from the early 1990s when Jews were targeted in Argentina and the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. That hard-line approach, Giuliani said, stands in contrast to the way Obama touched off a storm earlier this month during the National Prayer Breakfast by citing the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition as examples of the many religions that have perpetrated horrible acts throughout history.
“I thought the Crown Heights riots were a pogrom because you’re going out trying to kill Jews,” Giuliani said. “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. The Crusades were kind of an equal battle between two groups of barbarians. The Muslims and the crusading barbarians. What the ****? What’s wrong with this man that he can’t stand up and say there’s a part of Islam that’s sick?”
Obama aides have stood by the president’s remarks from the prayer breakfast.
“I think what is unquestionably true is that throughout history we have seen individuals perpetrate terrible acts of violence in the name of religion,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said last week. “And regardless of what religion you are trying to use to justify your terrible act of violence, it’s the responsibility of people with faith, of all faiths, to step forward and say that it’s wrong.”