72 Days to Decide: Will Religion Decide November?

August 22, 2010


The Ground Zero mosque. Gay marriage in California. The president’s religion.

These topics have little, if anything, to do with the economy, the issue that has dominated the political landscape all year and sent incumbents into a panic about their own job security. But with just over two months to go until the November midterms, curveball social issues have jolted a campaign season that until now has been about job creation and fiscal discipline — with a little illegal immigration and health care thrown in the mix.

Political strategists say the economy still dominates and that candidates who leap for the eye candy of headlines on religion run the risk of alienating independent voters who tend to avoid the hot-button culture issues and are focused on their pocketbooks.

But the culture wars are starting to play in certain races.

In Florida, where the primaries are being held this Tuesday, the top Republican candidates for governor have both seized on the debate over the Islamic center proposed near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

Billionaire Rick Scott was fast out of the gate with a campaign ad shortly after President Obama launched the New York issue into the national spotlight by saying the developers had the right to build there.

Scott, to the backdrop of moody guitar music, declared that Obama was “wrong” and the mosque should not be erected “just yards” from where “Muslim fanatics murdered thousands of innocent Americans.”

Opponent Bill McCollum, Florida’s attorney general, echoed the outrage.

“We’re still at war with Al Qaeda. They see this as a sign of weakness,” he told Fox News Friday. “This is not just an insult to the families of the victims of September 11. It’s also a problem for our soldiers that are still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The mosque debate popped up again in Missouri where GOP Rep. Roy Blunt’s Senate campaign posted a web video that featured audio of Democratic opponent Robin Carnahan saying New Yorkers should decide the mosque issue for themselves — with a photo in the background of smoldering World Trade Center rubble. Blunt afterward pulled the ad, but Carnahan said it went too far.

To read more, visit: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/21/days-decide-god-decide-november/

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