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Democrats, Republicans spar over mosque near Ground Zero

President forcefully joins debate, saying opposing project near Ground Zero is at odds with American values. Some Republicans have urged a halt.

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By Felicia Sonmez and Matt DeLong
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, August 16, 2010

President Obama's remarks Friday and Saturday on a proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero sparked heated exchanges on the Sunday morning news shows.

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(In Obama's Words: Read the transcript of Obama's remarks)

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the issue is not that there is a legal right to build the mosque but that those involved should listen to public opinion, which he said is strongly opposed to the project.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose district includes Ground Zero, countered that there is a "fundamental mistake" behind the thinking of those opposed to the project.

(Photos: The NYC mosque: Tribute to tolerance or symbol of pain?)

The fallacy is that al-Qaeda attacked us. Islam did not attack us," Nadler said.

On "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said troops in Afghanistan are being asked to find common ground with Muslims.

"If we can't do that here in the United States, we're going to have a very difficult time over there," Reed said.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Tex.) responded that "it's unwise to build a mosque in the site where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as the result of a terrorist attack."

On "Face the Nation," Republican strategist Ed Rollins said the mosque is "going to be a big, big issue for Democrats across this country" at the ballot box.

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