By Jennifer Glickel
MANHATTAN — President Barack Obama's remarks in support of the Ground Zero mosque — as well as his backtracking comments the following day — are being turned into a key campaign issue for this fall's mid-term elections.
Republicans have gone on the attack ever since Obama dove head first into the controversy on Friday night with comments he made in support of the mosque at the White House’s annual dinner in celebration of Ramadan.
"Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," President Obama said in the State Dining Room.
"That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."
In a visit to the Gulf Coast on Saturday, however, Obama changed his tune, saying, "I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there."
Republicans came out in force on the Sunday morning talk shows against the president's stance, while Democrats were keeping mum.
Sen. John Cornyn (R – Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday" that Obama's support of the controversial issue "demonstrates that Washington, the White House, the administration, the president himself seems to be disconnected from the mainstream of America."
On CBS’ "Face the Nation," GOP strategist Ed Rollins went so far as to say that Obama’s comments were "probably the dumbest thing that any president has said or candidate has said since Michael Dukakis said it was OK to burn the flag."
On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning, Rep. Peter King (R – NY) criticized Obama for "trying to have it both ways."
“You can't be changing your position from day to day on an issue which does go to our Constitution, and it also goes to extreme sensitivity,” King said.
Democrats are largely keeping quiet in the wake of Obama's remarks this weekend as the president began a three-day fundraising tour Monday to stump for Democratic candidates in Wisconsin, Washington, Ohio and Florida.
The president will appear at a fancy fundraiser for Democratic Congressional candidates nationwide in Los Angeles on Monday night, the Associated Press reported.