By Julie Shapiro and Jill Colvin
LOWER MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg "could not disagree more" with Sarah Palin's criticisms of the Ground Zero mosque, he said Monday.
Bloomberg said the $100 million mosque and community center is " a great message for the world that, unlike in other places where they might actually ban people from wearing burquas or building a building, that's not what America was founded on nor is it what America should become."
He was responding to comments Palin posted on Twitter Sunday afternoon, urging New Yorkers to “refudiate” the planned 13-story center two blocks from the World Trade Center.
Palin quickly corrected her word-choice mistake, writing:
"Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real."
She then addressed Muslim supporters of the project directly:
"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing."
Bloomberg said Monday that Palin has a right to her opinions, just like those who want to build the mosque.
"I think our young men and women overseas are fighting for exactly this,” Bloomberg said. “For the right of people to practice their religion and for government to not pick and choose which religions they support, which religions they don't.”
Bloomberg also defended his aide Andrea Batista Schlesinger, who replied to Palin's mosque comments on Twitter and implied Palin was a racist.
"Andrea Batista Schlesinger has a right to her opinions,” Bloomberg said. “I don't happen to agree with them. I don't think that Sarah Palin is remotely a racist. I don't agree with Andrea on a lot of things and I don't agree with Sarah Palin on a lot of things."
Borough President Scott Stringer also fired back at Palin via Twitter on Monday, saying “@SarahPalinUSA NYers support the #mosque in the name of tolerance and understanding. You should learn from the example we set here in #NYC.”
Many others on Twitter latched onto her use of "refudiate" yesterday to ridicule the former vice presidential candidate, so Palin shot back with another tweet a couple hours later, comparing herself to Shakespeare, President Obama and former President George W. Bush:
"'Refudiate,' 'misunderestimate,' 'wee-wee'd up.' English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!"
In other Ground Zero mosque news, Mark Williams, a Tea Party leader who called Borough President Stringer a "Jewish Uncle Tom" for supporting the project, has been kicked out of the National Tea Party Federation for making separate racially charged comments.
The Tea Party Federation also booted Williams’ Tea Party Express group after Williams wrote a mock letter from "the Colored People" to President Lincoln saying emancipation was a mistake.
Williams wrote an anti-mosque blog post in May saying that Muslims worship a "monkey god."