Political Candidates Chime In on NYC Mosque Debate

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The debate over the proposed Ground Zero mosque is now embedded in the American political landscape.

After President Barack Obama gave his opinion last week, candidates in election races from North Carolina to California are staking out their positions.

One conservative Democrat appears to be moving away from the president's statements, saying there's still room for compromise.

"It may be that the politics has gotten so intense that you may have to consider moving this just a few blocks away and perhaps you can find Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative support for this," said Harold Ford, chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council.

The debate over the proposed Muslim mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City, grows louder by the day.

"This hurts," former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin said. "This is a slap to those innocent victims who were murdered on 9/11."

The issue has become a key point in the run up to the November elections. Politicians are finding it increasingly difficult not to talk about it.

"This is a martyr marker," said Illario Pantano, Republican candidate for Congress in the 7th District of North Carolina. "It's about imposing law and it's about imposing shariff law."

"I think issuing a building permit in Manhattan doesn't have a whole lot to do with North Carolina," Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., said.

In California's Senate race, GOP challenger Carly Fiorina made it clear the mosque should be moved. She said it isn't about religious freedom -- it's about being sensitive to families who lost loved ones on 9/11.

"Now would be a time for the proponents of that mosque to withdraw and say they will find someplace else, where their objectives can be met. Instead of continuing to inflame the passions of the people who lost and suffered so much," Fiorina said.

Incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., refuses to delve into the controversy.

"That is a zoning decision, and that decision has to be made made by the city of New York," Boxer said.

In Florida, GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio reiterated his opposition to the proposed mosque, disagreeing with Senate hopeful Gov. Charlie Crist.

"I think it's insensitive, I think its divisive and if the true hope of the individuals behind this mosque and the organization behind this mosque is to create unity and positive awareness of Islam in America, and unifying our country, this is a terrible way to do it," Rubio said.

Meanwhile, Gov. David Paterson, D-N.Y., said he's still pursuing a meeting with mosque developers to see if there is a chance the mosque could be moved to a different location.  

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.