The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

White House to Rudy Giuliani: We feel sorry for you

Democrats on Thursday assailed Giuliani for questioning President Obama's love of country, and urged the potential field of Republican presidential candidates to rebuke his comments. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
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White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Friday had a concise response to former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s remarks questioning President Obama's patriotism.

“I can tell you that it's sad to see when somebody who has attained a certain level of public stature, and even admiration, tarnishes that legacy so thoroughly,” Earnest told reporters during the White House news briefing Friday. “And the truth is, I don't take any joy, or vindication, or satisfaction from that. I think, really, the only thing that I feel is sorry for Rudy Giuliani today.”

Giuliani has faced a barrage of criticism after reportedly citing the president's upbringing while questioning his love of country. Critics jumped on those remarks — which were first reported by Politico — and accused Giuliani of veiled racism.

“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 said at a private event in Manhattan on Wednesday. “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.”

The former New York City mayor on Thursday sought to dismiss the backlash, pointing to Obama's white mother and grandparents to suggest his comment on the president's upbringing does not suggest racial bias.

“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,” Giuliani told the New York Times. “This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”

Rather than quell critics, Giuliani’s subsequent comments to the media merely incensed them.

The president has not responded publicly to the former mayor’s comments, but Earnest dismissed the notion that the president is unpatriotic.

“You know, many of you have been in the room when the president's delivered speeches, where he's talked about his love for this country or how the United States is a force for good in the world. In fact, it's the greatest force for good that the world has ever seen,” Earnest said.

He added later: “And I, again, there's no element of schadenfreude that people are feeling around here. You know, the fact is, I think what people are feeling is sorry for Rudy Giuliani.”