WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) -- White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he feels "sorry for Rudy Giuliani today'' after the former New York mayor declared that President Barack Obama does not love the United States.
Earnest said Obama has repeatedly declared his love of country and has promoted the United States as a force for good in the world.
"It is sad to see when somebody who has attained a certain level of public stature and even admiration tarnishes that legacy so thoroughly,'' Earnest said.
At an event in New York City on Wednesday night, Giuliani said, "I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.''
On Thursday, Giuliani spoke to 1010 WINS, saying he does not regret his wording.
"No, not at all. I do think it's horrible to have to say it, I wish I didn't have to say it. But I do not get from the president a feeling that he has this overriding love of this country the way other American presidents did with the idea of how exceptional, how wonderful this country is," Giuliani said.
Rudy Giuliani Interview On 1010 WINS
Giuliani said he does not believe Obama has the same understanding or view of western civilization and the exceptional nature of America he has seen in other American presidents.
"I think there is something wrong, I don't know what it is, but I think some of it has to do with the fact that he was brought up as a critic of America as opposed to an unabashed admirer who can exalt in American exceptionalism and then see our faults and kind of lead us to correcting ourselves with positive reinforcement rather than being lectured on what's wrong with us, including from Europe," he said.
Giuliani rejoined center stage in the political arena after first making the comments Wednesday night at a small private dinner in Manhattan supporting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, a potential Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election. The former mayor has been critical of Obama for his refusal to link the Islamic religion to the acts of violence and terrorism perpetrated by ISIS. He suggested in his interview with 1010 WINS that the Koran should be updated to denounce such acts.
"There is nobody that doesn't understand that this is a small, but very dangerous and significant section of Muslim belief that comes from the Koran, and to some extent distorts it. And to some extent, the Koran probably needs some form of reformation so it doesn't have support for these words. That's the discussion we have to have if we want to have the courage to really deal with this straight on, and I'm afraid that this White House is doing just the opposite of that," he said.
Giuliani went on to criticize the Obama administration in the interview.
"This is a White House that spent its entire time backing up, not making up its mind, being ambiguous, never talking about how great America is, drawing red lines in the sand and then doing nothing about it. Which had to have destroyed his credibility in the Middle East and destroyed his credibility with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin," Giulani said.
Current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it's a "cheap political trick for Giuliani to question the president's love of country."
"That is stooping very, very low, even for him," de Blasio said Thursday. "I think it's pitiful, I think it's unfair for anyone to question our president's patriotism."
When asked to comment on de Blasio's response, Giuliani said "Mayor de Blasio has his own set of problems, so let him deal with it."
"Mayor de Blasio should be paying attention to running the city and getting police morale up and doing stuff like that and if he doesn't agree with me, I'm not surprised," Giuliani added.
When asked why he thinks people jumped on his statement, Giulani said he believes the criticism is due in part because there were a lot of people present who heard it. He even said the audience applauded when he made the comment at the event.
The former mayor also told WINS he has made similar comments about Obama over the last several years.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.
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