By Sean Lengell-The Washington Times
Republicans on Sunday criticized President Obama for comments about a proposed mosque near New York’s ground zero, suggesting that the matter will escalate into a significant campaign issue leading into the November midterm elections.
The president made his remarks at a Friday Ramadan service, but he quickly clarified them Saturday, undermining backers of the project who had cheered what they thought was White House support and prompting Republican accusations that Mr. Obama is prone to bad judgment.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday” that Mr. Obama‘s comments show that he “seems to be disconnected from the mainstream of America” and “that’s one of the reasons people are so frustrated.”
Democrats on Sunday defended the president and the mosque project by invoking typically Republican themes: freedom of religion, local control and the sanctity of property rights.
“Government has no right and no business to comment one way or the other on whether a church or a synagogue or a mosque should be anywhere, so long as they meet the legal requirements,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said on CNN‘s “State of the Union.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, said on the same show that it was wrong for national lawmakers to politicize a local New York City issue.
“It’s up to the people of New York. … They are obviously the folks who are right there at the site of the attack of 9/11,” said Mr. Van Hollen, who is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ fundraising arm.
Mr. Cornyn, who is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the fundraising arm of Senate Republicans, denied that the controversy about building a mosque close to ground zero is about freedom of religion.
“We all respect the right of anyone to worship according to the dictates of their conscience,” he said. “But I do think it’s unwise … to build a mosque at the site where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as a result of a terrorist attack.”
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