Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) on Sunday criticized President Obama's association with the Rev. Al Sharpton, arguing it sends a signal of hostility to police.
Giuliani, who has battled with Sharpton throughout his career, said Obama couldn't expect to be seen as supportive of police as long as he associates with Sharpton, an MSNBC talk-show host and longtime civil rights activist.
“If he would like to have a poster boy for hating the police, it’s Al Sharpton,” he said while appearing on CBS’ "Face the Nation." "You make Al Sharpton a close adviser, you’re going to turn the police in America against you.”
“To have that man sitting next to you speaks volumes,” he said.
Sharpton does not hold an appointed position in Obama's administration, but has been a liaison between families of people killed by police and the White House. In his early days as a civil rights leader, Sharpton was particularly bombastic — and many still blame him for inflaming racial tensions in some of the cases he was involved in.
Giuliani made the comments about Obama after he was asked about an earlier statement in which he said Obama been spreading anti-police “propaganda.”
The former mayor made the remark shortly after the ambush-style killings of two New York City police officers last Saturday.
The gunman who killed the two men, Rafael Ramos and Wenjin Liu, had expressed hostilities toward the police in online postings.
The killings have added heat to a national debate over how police officers treat minority communities that began after several incidents in which unarmed black men were killed by white police officers. In those cases, grand juries opted not to indict the officers.
Giuliani hit the president more broadly for the way he has taken an interest in the killings of the unarmed men by police.
“The fact that he pays attention to these so-called racial incidents, some of which are not racial incidents, sends representatives to funerals of people who were killed in committing a crime,” was evidence of a bias against police, he said, without saying which funeral he was talking about.
“And I have not heard him make very strong comments about the deaths of officers Ramos and Liu, to that extent.”
The White House sent Vice President Biden to the funeral for Ramos on Saturday.