Every Republican, especially those with an eye on 2016, is now being asked to confirm or repudiate the opinion of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on President Obama’s feelings toward America.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. 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,” Giuliani said at a Wednesday dinner in Manhattan with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Giuliani hasn’t backtracked, telling John Catsimatidis on 970 AM The Answer today that “we need a American president more like Ronald Reagan who gave us a sense of optimism.”
“I said it maybe 30 times before but somehow this time it hit a nerve, maybe because the president is on such defense for his unwillingness to face Islamic terrorism,” he said. “…There’s something about his unwillingness to talk about Islamic extremist Muslims that is not only wrong, it is becoming very dangerous.”
Not all 2016ers have opined. So what is everyone else saying about Giuliani’s comments when prodded by reporters?
Walker, to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “I’ve said repeatedly that (Giuliani) can speak for himself. The president can defend that. I assume most people in this country love America. And to me I don’t think it’s worth getting into the battle over whether he does or he doesn’t. He can handle that himself. I know I do. And I know there are great people in this country who love this country and who … feel this country’s exceptional and it doesn’t necessarily align by party. I think there are Republicans and Democrats and plenty of people in between. I’ve never asked the president so I don’t really know what his opinions are on that one way or another.” The governor was also asked Saturday if he believes Obama is a Christian. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I’ve never asked him that. You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), to a local TV station: “I don’t feel like I’m in a position to have to answer for every person in my party that makes a claim. Democrats aren’t asked to answer every time Joe Biden says something embarrassing, so I don’t know why I should answer every time a Republican does. I’ll suffice it to say that I believe the president loves America; I think his ideas are bad.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.): “The gist of what Mayor Giuliani said — that the president has shown himself to be completely unable to speak the truth about the nature of the threats from these ISIS terrorists – is true,” he said in a statement to The Hill. “If you are looking for someone to condemn the mayor, look elsewhere.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), to a home-state news station: “I think it’s a mistake to question people’s motives. It’s one thing to disagree on policy.”
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, to Hugh Hewitt: “I can’t get into his head — or, for that matter, his soul — about what he thinks about this country. I think the president in his mind loves this country, but his policies, and what his policies are doing to this country, is my concern.”
Former New York Gov. George Pataki, this morning on CNN: “The media loves to talk about somebody’s comment. OK, they’re having a schoolyard spat. Who loves America? I don’t doubt that the president loves America. But I do doubt that we’re focusing on solving the problems in Washington that we need to. And instead of let’s — fighting about stupid things like this or measles vaccines or evolution, let’s focus on coming together, as we did after September 11 and solving the very real problems facing the American people.”
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, this morning on CNN: “So, Rudy articulated it in a very bold, dramatic way, in a way that most of us don’t agree with. But it’s about the frustration with the president, not about Rudy.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), this morning on CNN: “I don’t think Rudy’s ever going to get the dust from Ground Zero out of his lungs. He was there during the fall of those towers…. Rudy cares passionately about America’s national security. And one thing to remember about Rudy. He governed a city that was majority, vast majority Democratic. He’s not a partisan politician in any real way. But he cares a great deal.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: “Governor Bush doesn’t question President Obama’s motives. He does question President Obama’s disastrous policies,” his spokeswoman told Talking Points Memo.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), this morning on ABC: “Well, I love Rudy, but I don’t want to go there. The nation’s very divided. President Obama has divided us more than he’s brought us together and I don’t want to add to that division. I have no doubt that he loves his country. I have no doubt that he’s a patriot. But his primary job as president of the United States is to defend this country and he’s failing miserably.”
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, on Fox today: “You know, I don’t think it helps to question the president’s patriotism or motives. Look, Rudy Giuliani is a great American. He saw nearly 3,000 of his own citizens die on 9/11. And he is understandably frustrated with a president who as I said before is fully willing to lecture the people of this country about the crusades, but is unwilling to call Islamic extremism for what it is. And I just truly believe that the focus of our country today needs to be on the task at hand, getting this economy moving again, restoring America’s strong place in the world and I look forward to being a voice and to play some role in helping to advance that.”