Washington: Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has sparked off a political firestorm in the US with his remarks that President Barack Obama does not love America, a comment termed as "horrible" by the White House.
"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 during a fundraising dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan.
"Honestly, I don't and you don't know what he truly believes. I'm talking about the way that he (Obama) expresses himself. I can't tell you what's within his heart," said Giuliani, whose controversial remarks on Wednesday night were first reported by the Politico.
"He does not love you. And he doesn't love me. He was not brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country," the former New York mayor was quoted as saying.
Giuliani reiterated the comments in an interview on CNN yesterday saying, "President Obama was brought up in an atmosphere in which he was taught to be a critic of America. That is a distinction with prior American presidents."
At the same time, the former New York mayor insisted that Obama is a patriot.
The White House described the comment as horrible. Later, it reported about a Chicago event with hashtag ##ObamaLovesAmerica, apparently in a reference to Giuliani's remarks.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said Giuliani seems embarrassed enough to be doing damage control this morning.
"So I'm not going to pile on from here. But I will say I agree with him on one thing he said today, which is that it was a horrible thing to say," he told reporters.
Indian-American Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal came out in support of Giuliani.
"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 (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) terrorists is true," he said.
"If you are looking for someone to condemn the mayor, look elsewhere," he added.