"Friends do not fund jihadists that are seeking to murder us. And when it comes to Saudi Arabia, we need to have real scrutiny and real pressure," GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz said during a debate in February.
Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank said this kind of rhetoric from a presidential candidate should be taken with a grain of salt. He added that it is different for a sitting president to say negative things about the relationship.
"I don't think Obama cares about Saudi Arabia," Henderson said. "I think the administration as a whole understands the relationship with Saudi Arabia needs to be carefully handled and calibrated."
He added that in Obama's worldview allies like Saudi Arabia are more trouble than they're worth in the long run. Publicly stating such views has damaged Saudi perceptions of America's commitment to regional stability.
"I think the Saudis do care, because they think of their challenges on a day-to-day basis," Henderson said. "They fear he will damage the relationship more, or that Iran will take advantage of the waning days of the Obama administration to do something destabilizing."
According to Manal Faisal, a Saudi student of international relations at King's College London, the harm to the relationship between the two countries may be irreparable.