Originally posted at The New York Times.
Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York on Thursday defended his assertion that President Obama did not love America, and said that his criticism of Mr. Obama’s upbringing should not be considered racist because the president was raised by “a white mother.”
Mr. Giuliani’s remarks — made at a New York fund-raising event for Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin on Wednesday night and first reported by Politico — set off an uproar.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Mr. Giuliani said at the event. “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.”
Critics suggested that Mr. Giuliani’s description of Mr. Obama’s upbringing reflected a prejudiced view that Mr. Obama was different from other Americans.
In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Giuliani dismissed the criticism and said he was describing the worldview that had shaped Mr. Obama’s upbringing.
“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,” Mr. Giuliani said in the interview. “This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”
He also challenged a reporter to find examples of Mr. Obama expressing love for his country.
“I’m happy for him to give a speech where he talks about what’s good about America and doesn’t include all the criticism,” Mr. Giuliani said.
Mr. Giuliani said his remarks on Wednesday night were in response to a question about what kind of president he would like to see elected in 2016. He responded, he said, by telling the audience that he wanted a leader who was Mr. Obama’s opposite.
“I want an American president to raise our spirits again, like a Ronald Reagan,” he said.
Mr. Giuliani said he also objected to the president’s comments about the Crusades at the National Prayer Breakfast this month, in which Mr. Obama said that during the Inquisition, people had “committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
“Now we know there’s something wrong with the guy,” Mr. Giuliani said of the president. “I thought that one sort of went off the cliff.”
He added: “What I don’t find with Obama — this will get me in more trouble again — is a really deep knowledge of history. I think it’s a dilettante’s knowledge of history.”
The White House declined to comment.
But earlier on Thursday, the deputy press secretary, Eric Schultz, said, “Mr. Giuliani test-drove this line of attack during his fleeting 2007 run for the presidency.”
“I was obviously not at the dinner last night, nor did I watch the remarks, so I’m going to leave it to those at the dinner to assess whether or not they were appropriate,” Mr. Schultz said.
“But I will say I agree with him on one thing he said today, which is that it was a horrible thing to say.”
Read more at The New York Times.
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