Giuliani, Cruz Criticize Obama Over Islamic Extremism Remarks

Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani at a rally in Villepinte, near Paris, on June 27, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz of Texas and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani pulled no punches when responding Wednesday to President Barack Obama's remarks about combating violent extremism.

"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 told an audience at a private group dinner in Manhattan for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, another GOP presidential hopeful, Politico reports.

Giuliani's comments came in response to a speech by Obama Wednesday at a three-day summit on combating violent extremism, attended by representatives from more than 60 nations.

"We are not at war with Islam," Obama said at the summit's close. "We are at war with people who have perverted Islam."

The White House has steadfastly refused to tie extremism to Islam, with Obama arguing that groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS "promote a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world's Muslims."

In his speech, Obama also called on American Muslim communities to help counter extremism.

"Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam," he said. "Everybody has to speak up very clearly that no matter what the grievance, violence against innocents doesn't defend Islam or Muslims. It damages Islam and Muslims."

In his criticism, Giuliani also took aim at Obama's comments at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, in which he said Christians, too, have historically committed acts of religiously motivated violence and cited the Crusades as an example.

"You've got to be able to criticize Islam for the parts of Islam that are wrong," Politico quotes Giuliani as saying. "You criticize Christianity for the part of Christianity that is wrong. I'm not sure how wrong the Crusades are. The Crusades were kind of an equal battle between two groups of barbarians: the Muslims and the crusading barbarians. What the hell? What's wrong with this man that he can't stand up and say there's a part of Islam that's sick?"

Giuliani qualified his remarks on Fox News Thursday morning. "Well, first of all, I'm not questioning his patriotism. He's a patriot, I'm sure," he said, according to Politico. "What I'm saying is, in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things that I used to hear Bill Clinton say about how much he loves America."

Cruz also took the opportunity to snipe at Obama, in a Fox News interview Wednesday night with Megyn Kelly. Cruz called the president "an apologist for radical Islamic terrorists," Politico reports. Cruz also took issue with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, who earlier this week, in an MSNBC interview with Chris Matthews on the topic of ISIS, said, "We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium and longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups."

"Now, with respect, that is idiocy," Cruz said of Harf's remark. "The solution here is not expanded Medicaid. The solution is the full force of U.S. military power to destroy the leaders of ISIS. They have declared war, jihad on the United States. Jihad is another word the president doesn't say."