Washington (CNN)Rudy Giuliani doubled down Thursday on controversial comments he made about President Barack Obama, again insisting that Obama is a patriot even though Giuliani doesn't believe the President loves the United States.
Giuliani stands by, explains Obama 'America' remarks
Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and one-time presidential candidate, insisted that Obama doesn't love the United States because he "doesn't express a great love of this country" and criticizes the United States at home and abroad, an outlook on the U.S. that Giuliani tied to Obama's upbringing.
"President Obama was brought up in an atmosphere in which he was taught to be a critic of America," Giuliani said in a phone interview with CNN. "That is a distinction with prior American presidents."
But still, Obama is patriotic even if he doesn't love America, Giuliani said, pointing out that "there have been an awful lot of patriots who were critics."
Giuliani's definition of patriotism? "Someone who is dedicated to the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and the U.S. Constitution.
Giuliani first said he doesn't believe Obama "loves America" at a dinner event Wednesday night featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential GOP presidential candidate, a speech first reported by Politico. When asked if he and Walker discussed those remarks, Giuliani hesitated, settling on "I don't think so."
And while the former mayor said he believes Obama is committed to those principles and the constitution, he said he didn't "detect" a love of country in Obama and "honestly" doesn't know whether Obama does.
"Honestly, I don't and you don't know what he truly believes. I'm talking about the way that he expresses himself. I can't tell you what's within his heart," Giuliani said.
Maybe Obama doesn't have "as romantic a view" of the United States as past presidents, Giuliani suggested.
As he did at the dinner on Wednesday, Giuliani pointed to the love former presidents like Ronald Reagan who saw America's problems as the "footnotes." Obama, Giuliani said, sees American problems as "the headline."
In explaining the role of Obama's education in his love for America, Giuliani revived old attacks used against Obama during his two presidential campaigns regarding his ties to socialists like Saul Alinsky.
He also revived criticism of Obama's time attending Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church, the pastor who infamously said "God Damn America."
"The fact that he remained in Rev. Wright's church for 17 years...If you had deep in your heart a love of America you would have quit if the minister said something like that," Giuliani said.
Giuliani, who has been accused in the past of making racially-charged comments on policing and black-on-black crime, insisted that his criticism of Obama had nothing to do with race.
"There's a real attempt to make it a racial criticism. It has nothing to do with race," Giuliani said, pointing out that "he was brought up by the way by a white mother and white grandparents."
It's worth noting during a campaign speech in 2008, Obama said, "I will let no one question my love of this country."