Rudy Giuliani Draws Ire of Top Dem for Saying Obama Doesn’t Love America

Ex-NYC mayor softens comments to add that president is "a patriot."

ByABC News
February 19, 2015, 1:40 PM
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, left, on Feb. 6, 2015 and Rudy Giuliani, right, is seen in this May 12, 2014 file photo.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, left, on Feb. 6, 2015 and Rudy Giuliani, right, is seen in this May 12, 2014 file photo.
Getty Images | AP Photo

— -- Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz today called on GOP presidential candidates to disavow comments made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in which he said he doesn’t believe President Obama “loves America.”

Giuliani made the comments at a private dinner Wednesday featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, according to Politico.

“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 at the dinner in New York City, Politico reported. “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.”

Wasserman Schultz, in a speech to the Association of Democratic State Chairs at the DNC Winter Meeting today in Washington, D.C., called on the possible candidates to “start leading.”

“One of the GOP frontrunners was sitting just feet away, and didn’t say a word,” the Florida congresswoman said, referring to Walker.

“If the Republican Party really wants to be taken seriously, really wants to avoid its problems of the past, now is the time for its leaders to stop this kind of nonsense. Enough… I would challenge my Republican colleagues and anyone in the Republican Party to say enough. They need to start leading.”

Wasserman Schultz mentioned several of the possible contenders by name and said she “rarely agreed with President Bush, but I never questioned his love for our country. I don’t often agree with my Republican colleagues on the Hill, but I know they love America.”

She isn’t the only Democrat to speak out. In a news conference today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned Giuliani’s remarks but, of Walker said, “I hear a deafening silence.”

At the dinner, Giuliani said “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,” according to Politico. "And if it’s you Scott, I’ll endorse you. And if it’s somebody else, I’ll support somebody else.”

Walker appeared on CNBC today, but wouldn’t respond to Giuliani’s comments. “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,” Walker said.

A spokeswoman from Walker’s political operation, “Our American Revival,” declined to comment further, instead referring ABC News to Walker’s comments on CNBC.

Giuliani tried to walk back the comments this morning on Fox News, saying he is “not questioning his patriotism,” referring to the president.

“He’s a patriot, I’m sure,” Giuliani said. “What I’m saying is, in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things that I used to hear Bill Clinton say about how much he loves America.”

Obama spokesman Eric Schultz said this afternoon, "Mr. Giuliani test ran this line of attack during his 2007 run for the presidency. I wasn’t at the dinner and will leave it to those at the dinner to assess whether that was appropriate. He seems to be doing damage control this morning. But I agree with him on one thing: it was a horrible thing to say.”

ABC News' Mark Crudele, John Parkinson and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.