Peter King slams Obama over Ground Zero mosque stanceBy TOM BRUNE
August 16, 2010
WASHINGTON - Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) criticized President Barack Obama Sunday for "trying to have it both ways" and for making "unclear" statements on whether he supports the building of a mosque near Ground Zero.
King joined other Republicans on Sunday morning talk shows in attacking Obama for citing Friday the constitutional right of Muslims to build the mosque, then saying the next day he wouldn't comment on the "wisdom" of their picking that controversial site.
"If the president was going to get into this, he should have been much more clear, much more precise, and 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 on CNN's "State of the Union" show.
"So that's where I am critical of the president, for not being clear."
Obama, in his remarks Friday, said he believes "Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.
"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."
Asked about the issue Saturday, he said: "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding."
Sunday the White House stood by Obama's comments. It referred to a statement Saturday by spokesman Bill Burton that the president was "not backing off in any way from the comments he made" Friday, but that "it is not his role as president to pass judgment on every local project."
King, an outspoken opponent of the Islamic community center project, conceded, "The Muslims have, as everyone else says, the right to practice their religion and they have the right to construct a mosque at Ground Zero if they wish."
But he urged them to meet with victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks and find another site because of the anguish it is causing some. "This is such a raw wound," he said, "and they are just pouring salt into it."
In response, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat who represents lower Manhattan, agreed with Obama's view on the Bill of Rights: "We do not put the religious freedom to a vote."
He added, "As to whether the imam wants to have the mosque somewhere else, that's up to them, and government should not pressure them one way or the other."