Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) was "dog whistling" when he said President Obama does not love America, a Democratic congressman said Monday.

While appearing on CNN's "New Day," Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) was asked how he, as a person of color, responded to the comments, which some have criticized as being motivated by Obama's race.
ADVERTISEMENT

"I’ll put it like this: I believe he was dog whistling," Ellison said. "And what I mean is, you know, he was signaling that, ‘He’s not one of us,” and that had to do with some factors that the former mayor should not be trying to play off of."

Asked if he was specifically referring to race, Ellison said he thought that Giuliani might have been implying other questions about Obama as well.

"Is he an American? Is he a Muslim? Is he a socialist? Is he this? Is he that?" said Ellison, who was the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Giuliani made the comments at a dinner for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) last week.

"I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America," he said.

Giuliani has brushed off criticism of his comments as racially motivated, and said in an op-ed published Sunday that he could not "read President Obama’s mind or heart." He has, however, continued to criticize the president for what he says is an overly critical view of America.
 
Some possible Republican 2016 presidential candidates have criticized the former mayor's comments — though many did not do so right away.
 
But Ellison said he didn't blame politicians who waited to respond to the comments.
 
"It’s so silly and stupid and ridiculous that I could see how someone wouldn’t take it seriously until asked," he said. "That’s just how low those comments were."