Scott Walker says he doesn’t know if Obama loves the U.S.

The AP

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a leading Republican contender for the White House in 2016 getting ever cozier with his tea party base, said over the weekend that he doesn’t know whether President Barack Obama loves his country.

“You should ask the president what he thinks about America,” Walker told The Associated Press while in Washington for a weekend meeting of the National Governors Association. “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.”

Earlier in the week, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said during a dinner speech, with Walker in attendance, “I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.”

Democrats have assailed Giuliani for questioning Obama’s love of country and urged the potential field of Republican presidential candidates to rebuke Giuliani for his comments.

DNC National Press Secretary Holly Shulman said, “After sitting silently by when Rudy Giuliani made an outrageous comment that our president doesn’t love America, today Scott Walker has doubled down on his divisive politics saying he doesn’t know if the president loves our country, and then questioning President Obama’s religion.” 

“Scott Walker had a simple test. He could have risen above the fray, but he continues to flatly fail and instead push the same polarizing agenda and politics he has for years in Wisconsin. Today, Walker has proven himself once again to be unfit to lead.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, another possible 2016 candidate, said he didn’t think it helps to question the president’s patriotism or motives. Giuliani, Pence said, is “a great American” who is “understandably frustrated with a president who lectures us on the Crusades, but seems incapable of calling radical Islamic violence by name.”

Walker, who has been amassing donors and headlines since a well-received speech last month in Iowa, has been a visible presence at the annual governors’ meeting, participating in events and making himself available to reporters.

He said that if he does choose to run, he’ll likely skip the step of forming a formal exploratory committee and instead transition straight from the political organization he launched to begin raising money to “an outright presidential campaign.”

Walker didn’t say when he’d make a decision but that “any reasonable candidate, whether it be my consideration or anybody else, has to be in by midyear.” He said his state’s budget was generally settled by the end of June.

“If I choose to be a candidate, you’re not going to hear me say ill will about any of the other candidates,” Walker said. “I’m going to talk about what I’m for. I think Americans are sick and tired of politicians that talk about what they’re against and who they’re against.”

When he was campaigning for re-election last year, Walker claimed he planned to be a full-time governor.