Giuliani's Obama Critique Puts 2016ers In A Bind

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's comments that he doesn't think President Barack Obama "loves America" have put potential Republican presidential contenders in a bind, caught between a desire to criticize the President and the need to respect the office of the presidency.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is contemplating a presidential run, tried to strike that balance in his comments to The Associated Press that while he had "no doubt" Obama loves America, "I just think his policies are bad for our nation."

GOP strategist Ford O'Connell said the difficulty for Republican presidential candidates lies in the attraction of taking aim at the President's policies, which Americans are widely unhappy with, but avoiding taking aim at the President himself.

"Regardless of political party, no one wants to criticize the sitting President in that way because it can be taken the wrong way by a lot of people," he said.

"But there is a concern and an alarm out there about the nature of this threat we're facing in the Middle East," O'Connell added, referencing a CNN/ORC poll out this week that showed a majority of Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of ISIS and foreign policy.

O'Connell warned other Republicans to take an approach similar to Jindal's, and be cautious of how they frame their attacks on the President.

"It's not what you say, it's what [the voters] hear," he said.

Read more from Alexandra Jaffe at CNN

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Analysis & Political Strategy