In an exchange with the host of ABC's "This Week" Sunday program on February 22, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) defended President Obama's patriotism and love of country in the wake of comments made last week by former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani. As reported by POLITICO, Giuliani told a private gathering in New York on Feb. 18, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,”adding “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.” Giuliani's remarks have caused a variety of reactions on the part of his Republican confreres, some of whom have called on him to retract the statement.
"This Week"host George Stephanopoulos - a former advisor to President Bill Clinton - asked Congressman Ellison for reaction, while referring to Republican notables Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. "They do sound angry, Keith Ellison. But, you know, the point that Marco Rubio was making there, and I guess the point that Scott Walker was trying to make is that there does seem to be a little bit of a double standard here. The Republicans tend to get asked these questions about their outliers more than Democrats are.
Ellison responded, "Oh, I don't agree with that. You know, people are always being asked about what somebody else said. But I have to tell you this, the president definitely is a great lover of America. I mean so much so that 11 million Americans got health care who never had it before. That's pragmatic love of country, when you do things for your countrymen and women. So I don't know. I think that the president's an amazing patriot and one of the best presidents I think our country will ever have seen."
Ellison, a former Catholic, is the only Muslim member of Congress. He is leading an effort to compel House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to delay an appearance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint session of Congress on May 3. Supporters of President Obama contend that both Boehner and Netanyahu broke diplomatic protocol in extending and accepting the invitation. Neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden will attend the session. The members of the mostly-Democrat Black Caucus in the House of Representatives have vowed to boycott the speech.
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