GOP Split on How to Play Mosque in Nov.

Strategists caution against issue becoming a distraction
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2010 7:14 AM CDT
GOP Split on How to Play Mosque in Nov.
Protesters rally against the proposed mosque and Islamic community center.   (PRNewsFoto/Stop the Islamization of America)

For all the shrieking going on, Republican strategists are warning candidates against making too big a deal out of their opposition to the proposed mosque near Ground Zero. Polls show that public opinion is firmly against the mosque, but the strategists warn that candidates trumpeting their opposition while demanding that their Democratic rivals give their opinion risk alienating minority religious groups and distracting attention from "bread and butter" issues.

"While this is certainly an issue that has generated a lot of emotion, when it comes to voting, the election is going to be about the economy and jobs," a GOP pollster tells the Washington Post. Some candidates say they have no intention of exploiting the controversy. President Obama—and some Republicans—are "playing politics with this issue, and I simply am not going to do it," says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "We have to bring people together. And what offends me the most about all this is that it's being used as a political football by both parties." (More Ground Zero stories.)

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