- Associated Press - Monday, August 16, 2010

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) — A White House spokesman said Monday that politics wasn’t a factor in President Obama’s remarks about building a mosque near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York.

White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said it was “not politics” but Mr. Obama’s feeling that he had the obligation as president to “make sure people are treated equally” under the Constitution.

Mr. Obama has said that religious freedom allows the mosque to be built, but without commenting on the wisdom of building one two blocks from ground zero. Republicans have pounded him for his comments, making it a prime midterm election issue.

Mr. Burton said Mr. Obama “felt it was his obligation as president to address this.”

Mr. Obama was on his way to Wisconsin on Monday for fundraising.

 

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