Giuliani Comments Meet Bipartisan Pushback

Politicians weigh in on the Sunday shows.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson participates in a discussion at The Woodrow Wilson Center January 29, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Politicians of both parties used Sunday talk-show appearances to condemn former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's remark last week that he didn't think President Barack Obama loved America.

They included several Republicans who are considering running for president:

  • South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham rejected Giuliani's comments but criticized Obama. “I have no doubt that [Obama] loves this country,” Graham said on ABC's This Week. “I have no doubt that he's a patriot. But his primary job as the president of the United States is to defend this country, and he's failing miserably.”
  • Former New York Governor George Pataki called the episode a “schoolyard spat” and said it had unjustly shifted the conversation from substantive topics. “I don't doubt that the president loves America,” Pataki said on CNN's State of the Union, according to a transcript. “But I do doubt that we're focusing on solving the problems in Washington that we need to.”
  • Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence said, “I just don't think it's helpful in the public debate to question motives or question patriotism.”

Republicans who are not in the 2016 spotlight also weighed in:

  • California Representative Darrell Issa, who has been a leading critic of the Obama administration on the 2012 Benghazi attacks, said Giuliani's comments had brought attention back to Obama's handling of national-security issues. “I think we should thank him for this part of it,” he said on CNN, according to a transcript.
  • Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said on CNN that he didn't “particularly care for” how his “friend” phrased the criticism. “But it's typical Rudy,” he said. “He's always aggressive. He's always upfront.”

And a member of the Obama administration and a congressional Democrat came to the president's defense.

  • Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who worked for Giuliani as a federal prosecutor and said he “admired” his response to 9/11, echoed Pence. “In my judgment, Mayor Giuliani's comments were not helpful,” Johnson said on CNN, according to a transcript. “I think his most recent statements are very regrettable.”
  • Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota said on ABC that the president “definitely is a great lover of America” and that his signature health-care law demonstrated “a pragmatic love” for the country.

 Ali Elkin contributed to this report.