Ex-New York City Mayor and former presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani’s recent string of inflammatory remarks about President Barack Obama continued on Friday when he told the New York Post the president has been under communist influence since childhood.
“From the time he was 9 years old, he was influenced by Frank Marshall Davis, who was a communist,” Giuliani told the New York City tabloid, which has also devoted recent cover real estate to hammering Obama’s unwillingness to refer to the ISIS terror group as “Islamic extremists.”
Giuliani also saw fit to revive the debate over Obama’s former attendance at the Chicago church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, which was a frequent conservative tactic from the 2008 campaign.
“He spent 17 years in the church of Jeremiah Wright, and this is the guy who said ‘God damn America, not God bless America … Obama never left that church,” Giuliani said. The former mayor had previously said Obama “doesn’t love” America the same way conservatives like him do and has claimed his remarks can’t be construed as racist because the president has “a white mother.”
The 70-year-old Republican’s attacks, which include a FOX News appearance during which he said the president “didn’t live through September 11 – I did. President Obama didn’t almost have a building fall on him,” come at a sensitive time. The GOP appears to coalescing around its presidential frontrunners for 2016, and while criticizing the president is one thing, saying he doesn’t love America – as Giuliani did in New York while at an event with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – is something entirely different.
Response from Republicans has been mixed, despite several calls for the party to denounce Giuliani’s comments.
Gov. Walker initially told CNBC, “The mayor can speak for himself. I’m not going to comment on whether—what the president thinks or not. He can speak for himself as well. I’ll tell you, I love America.” Walker again chimed in during an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, saying “I’ve never asked the president so I don’t really know what his opinions are on that one way or another.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal released a statement saying he would not criticize Giuliani’s remarks. “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.” Jindal added, “If you are looking for someone to condemn the mayor, look elsewhere.”
In interview with a CNN affiliate station, Rand Paul weighed in. “I try not to question the president’s motives as being a good American or a bad American,” he said. “I’ve challenged his policies. I’ve disagreed with him completely on the war in Libya. I blame him and Hillary [Clinton] for something that made us less safe because of the war in Libya. But I don’t question whether or not he was well-intentioned.”
And Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also shared his opinions.
“I don’t feel like I’m in a position to have to answer for every person in my party that makes a claim,” he said. “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.”
Kristy Campbell, a spokesperson for former Gov. Jeb Bush told Talking Points memo, “Governor Bush doesn’t question President Obama’s motives. He does question President Obama’s disastrous policies.”
Pundits from both sides have weighed in on the issue, with Fox News Analyst Juan Williams saying on-air “Let me just tell you something: This is divisive. This invites all kinds of racial tension.” The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson went a step further Friday on msnbc’s “Morning Joe” speculating that Giuliani might be ailing mentally.
“This is so crazy and counterproductive that it doesn’t seem to be part of any thought out political strategy,” Robinson said. Robinson also labeled Giuliani’s remarks as racist.
During the same segment, Joe Scarborough also urged potential GOP candidates to refute Giuliani’s claims.
The controversial conversation has spilled over to Twitter via the trending hashtag #ObamaLovesAmerica, with many users on both sides of the political fence tweeting things like “#ObamaLovesAmerica maybe a little, but not enough to kill our enemies.” and #ObamaLovesAmerica so much so that he puts up with all the craziness, slander, and disrespect of the GOP in order to help Americans!