As if their prospects for re-election in November weren’t grim enough…Democrats are reeling from Obama’s highly insensitive Ramadan endorsement of the 9/11 Victory Mosque at Ground Zero which more than 70% of the country opposes.
Once a Muslim always a Muslim.
Obama’s comments on the Ground Zero mosque have transformed an emotion-laden local dispute in New York into a nationwide debate overnight, setting nervous Democrats on edge and creating potentially dramatic political implications in the upcoming midterm elections.
Key Republicans had leapt to criticize Obama over his comments on the controversial plan, with House Republican leader John Boehner calling them “deeply troubling.”
And Democrats — at least the ones willing to comment at all — could barely contain their frustration over Obama’s remarks Friday night, saying they would further complicate campaign efforts by candidates struggling in an anti-Democratic year, particularly moderates in conservative-leaning districts who already are 2010’s most vulnerable contenders.
“I would prefer the president be a little more of a politician and a little less of a college professor,” former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), who once ran the House Democratic campaign arm, wrote in POLITICO’s Arena. “While a defensible position, it will not play well in the parts of the country where Democrats need the most help.”
Obama has put Democrats from coast to coast in the tough position of having to weigh in on an issue they would rather duck. Prior to his speech, a few candidates tried with limited success to make the proposed mosque an issue outside of the tri-state area around New York City. Now any Democrat facing an election — less than three months away — can be put in the uncomfortable position of being asked to reject the president’s unpopular stand or side with him.
Few national Democrats rushed to embrace the president. An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for instance, said she wasn’t immediately reachable for comment. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s spokesman also didn’t immediately offer a comment.
Empire State Democrats, known for being outspoken, stayed notably mute in response to Obama’s comments at the Iftar dinner, a community meal to break the fast during Ramadan. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is expected to handily win reelection, has not taken a firm stand on the issue despite weeks of prodding from reporters. There also was no statement from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, running for governor. (He has already endorsed the mosque)
Several New York Democrats either involved with members of Congress or strategists said privately that they are not happy about the speech because it puts them in a bind. A recent CNN polls found two-thirds of Americans oppose building the mosque in the neighborhood around Ground Zero.
Democratic aides say that the president has again knocked his party’s candidates off local messages and forced them to talk about a national issue that doesn’t appear likely to play well with important swing voters. The chief of staff to one politically vulnerable House Democrat said it “probably alienates a lot of independent voters,” and “it’s not a good issue to be talking about right now.”
He said he suspects “there are a lot of (Democrats) who are spooked in tough districts today” and “a lot of Republicans licking their chops right now.” POLITICO
Sensing the growing anti-Islam mood around the country, fueled by the collective outrage over Obama’s pro-Ground Zero mosque remarks, GOP leaders are putting the threat of the Islamization of the country front and center. (It’s about time)
The harsh Republican response to President Barack Obama’s defense of a mosque near ground zero marks a dramatic shift in the party’s posture toward Islam — from a once active courtship of Muslim voters to a very public tolerance after Sept. 11 to an openly aired sense of mistrust.
Republican leaders have largely abandoned former President George W. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 rhetorical embrace of American Muslims and his insistence — always controversial inside the party — that Islam is a religion of peace.(Probably one of the most dangerous positions GW Bush ever supported) This weekend, former Bush aides were among the very few Republicans siding with Obama, as many of the party’s leaders have moved toward more vocal denunciations of Islam’s role in violence abroad and suspicion of its place at home.
The shift plays to a hostility toward Islam among many Republican voters, and it fits with traditional Republican attacks on Democratic weakness on security policy.
“Bush went against the grain of his own constituency,” said Allen Roth, a political aide to conservative billionaire Ron Lauder and, independently, a key organizer of the fight against the mosque. “This is part of an underlying set of security issues that could play a significant role in the elections this November.”
Obama’s remarks provide a clear, national focus for the simmering question of Islam in American life, and Republicans showed every sign Saturday of beginning to capitalize on it, with Republican candidates in New York and Florida seeking to inject the issue into local races as Democrats largely held their silence.
That stance in the GOP — both in terms of political strategy and policy views — appears to be carrying the day. Most of the potential Republican presidential hopefuls, led by Sarah Palin, came out sharply against the mosque. READ MORE: POLITICO