Tennessee Congressman Stands By Tweet-Shaming Rudy Giuliani for Saying Obama Doesn’t Love America

Rep. Steve Cohen sees racial undertones in Rudy Giuliani’s comments about the president’s patriotism.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.
National Journal
Feb. 20, 2015, 9:29 a.m.

Rep. Steve Co­hen didn’t back down Fri­day over a tweet in which he called out Rudy Gi­uliani for even ques­tion­ing Pres­id­ent Obama’s love of Amer­ica.

“[Gi­uliani] was throw­ing red meat to the crowd, and he is a butcher,” Co­hen told Na­tion­al Journ­al in a phone in­ter­view. The former Re­pub­lic­an New York may­or had said dur­ing a fun­draiser Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to Politico, that Obama “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up, and I was brought up, through love of this coun­try.”

In a fiery tweet Fri­day af­ter­noon, the Ten­ness­ee Demo­crat said, “Rudy Gi­uliani ques­tioned how much, or even if, Pres­id­ent Obama loves Amer­ica. Maybe he thinks he loves it â…— as much as Gi­uliani & his pals.” The tweet, an ap­par­ent al­lu­sion to the Three-Fifths Com­prom­ise of 1787, which coun­ted black people as just three-fifths of white people when de­term­in­ing the num­ber of rep­res­ent­at­ives for Con­gress for each state, sparked at­ten­tion on so­cial me­dia.

“I have got­ten quite a bit of sup­port from folks, but I have got­ten a whole lot of flack,” Co­hen said. “I an­ti­cip­ate that. I get flack from the right wing, con­ser­vat­ive tea party, quote-un-quote ‘con­sti­tu­tion­al con­ser­vat­ives’ … Breit­bart, gun-lov­ing, blah, blah, blah crowd.”

Co­hen says he is fed up with people even doubt­ing Obama’s pat­ri­ot­ism.

“He is the com­mand­er in chief, he de­fends our coun­try, he loves our coun­try. It is not even an is­sue,” Co­hen says. “It is just ab­surd.”

But con­ser­vat­ives wer­en’t the only ones call­ing out Co­hen. The Wash­ing­ton Post also took him to task for his tweet, ar­guing it was a “very good demon­stra­tion of how not to el­ev­ate the polit­ic­al de­bate with Rudy Gi­uliani.”

Co­hen says that he has a good sense of what his con­stitu­ents feel about the con­ver­sa­tions on race that have sur­roun­ded the coun­try’s first Afric­an-Amer­ic­an pres­id­ent. Co­hen is con­sidered a rar­ity in Con­gress, ac­cord­ing to Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s polit­ic­al al­man­ac, for be­ing “one of the few white mem­bers rep­res­ent­ing a ma­jor­ity-minor­ity dis­trict.”

“I am happy to re­spond for him. I like my pres­id­ent,” Co­hen says. “I sup­port my pres­id­ent, and I am go­ing to sup­port him in Con­gress, and I am go­ing to sup­port him on Twit­ter, and I am go­ing to sup­port him in the 9th Dis­trict.”

Co­hen says he did not think his tweet was ra­cist. He says he is re­spond­ing to com­ments that were highly of­fens­ive.

“There have been ra­cist un­der­tones and even over­tones,” Co­hen says of years of rhet­or­ic against the pres­id­ent. “People ques­tion his re­li­gion, they ques­tion his birth, they ques­tion his al­le­gi­ance to the coun­try. He is the pres­id­ent of the United States. They need to get over it.”

Re­gard­less, Co­hen says that he takes “real de­light” in block­ing some of the more con­ser­vat­ive tweeters who stand up for Gi­uliani.

“It takes a long time to block them all, but one day I will be Twit­ter-free of those types of people,” Co­hen says.

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