The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee castigated former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani on Thursday for comments he made about President Obama, and she called on a field of prospective 2016 GOP candidates to also condemn the remarks.
While speaking at a private dinner in New York on Wednesday night, Giuliani, who ran for president in 2008, said he does not believe Obama "loves America."
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America," said Giuliani, according to news outlets, including Politico, that had reporters at the dinner. "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 dinner, held at the 21 Club in Manhattan, was attended by several top GOP financiers and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective Republican presidential candidate.
“A leader of the Republican Party said that the president doesn’t love us, and doesn’t love the country," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairwoman of the DNC, said Thursday at the group's winter meeting in Washington. “Is this what it’s really come to? Really?"
Wasserman Schultz noted that on Thursday morning Giuliani appeared on Fox News and sought to clarify his comments by saying he was not trying to question Obama's patriotism.
"I don’t often agree with my Republican colleagues on the Hill, but I know they love America," she said.
The comments from Giuliani echo remarks made by some Republicans since Obama took office in 2009 who have questioned that the president was born in America. On Twitter Thursday, the hashtag #ObamaLovesAmerica began trending nationwide.
In December, Giuliani drew criticism for saying Obama and current New York Mayor Bill de Blasio were stoking an "anti-police hatred" after the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police officers in Staten Island, N.Y., and Ferguson, Mo.
Giuliani's comments come as Obama has faced criticism for defending Islam while assailing extremist terrorist groups.
On Thursday, Wasserman Schultz challenged her GOP counterparts and several likely 2016 candidates to condemn Giuliani.
"I would challenge my Republican colleagues and anyone in the Republican Party to say, 'enough.' They need to start leading,” she said.
An email seeking comment from Walker was not immediately returned.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is weighing a potential 2016 run, attacked Democrats and the media and defended Giuliani.
“Perhaps he should have chosen different phraseology for his remarks,” Jindal said in a statement. “If you are looking for someone to condemn the mayor, look elsewhere."