- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 15, 2010

A top Republican senator said Sunday that President Obama’s comments about a proposed mosque near New York’s ground zero will escalate into a campaign issue leading into the November midterm elections.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” said that Mr. Obama’s response to the issue shows he “seems disconnected from mainstream America” and “that’s one of the reasons people are so frustrated.”

The president on Saturday said that Muslims have the right to build a mosque near New York’s ground zero, but he did not say whether he thinks it is a good idea to do so.

Mr. Cornyn, who is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the fundraising arm of the Senate GOP, denied that the controversy about building a mosque close to ground zero is about freedom of religion.

“We all respect the right of anyone to worship according to the dictates of their conscience,” he said. “But I do think it’s unwise … to build a mosque at the site where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as a result of a terrorist attack.”

Mr. Cornyn added that while the issue “is going to be a local decision,” the “American people will render their verdict.”

The mosque would be part of a $100 million Islamic community center two blocks from where two hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.