Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said "something's wrong" with President Barack Obama, calling the president a "dilettante" on Thursday, according to an exclusive interview with The New York Times.
At a private dinner for potential 2016 candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday, Giuliani said he doesn't believe Obama "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,” he added.
Critics have alleged that Giuliani's rhetoric reeked of racially insensitive overtones, but the 70-year-old Republican told The Times that's not possible because Obama has “a white mother.”
According to The Times, Giuliani said, “Some people thought it was racist — I thought that was a joke, since he was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools, and most of this he learned from white people.”
“This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism,” he continued.
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Giuliani, who has been one Obama's most outspoken critics -- particularly on foreign policy -- for years, said he made the initial controversial comments on Wednesday while speculating about the kind of candidate he'd like to see elected in 2016. “I want an American president to raise our spirits again, like a Ronald Reagan,” Giuliani said.
The White House has declined to officially comment on Giuliani's statements, but on Thursday Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said, “Mr. Giuliani test-drove this line of attack during his fleeting 2007 run for the presidency.” After serving two terms as mayor of New York, Giuliani unsuccessfully sought the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.
Giuliani's heavily criticized remarks are only the most recent in a string of controversial statements about race. Last fall, when predominately black protests against alleged police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, captured national attention, Giuliani argued on a November episode of NBC's "Meet the Press" that black-on-black crime was more responsible for the community's problems than its largely white police force. “The fact is, I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93% of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here,” said Giuliani.
Although he has not formally endorsed Walker, Giuliani said on Wednesday, “[W]ith 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 … and if it’s somebody else, I’ll support somebody else.”
Walker has stopped short of condemning what Giuliani said, telling CNBC on Thursday morning, "The mayor can speak for himself. I’m not going to comment on what the president thinks or not, he can speak for himself as well. I can tell you I love this country.”
Additional reporting by Jane C. Timm