Following President Obama's public support for that controversial mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, one of the highest-ranked Democrats in Washington is breaking with the boss -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is against it.
In a statement Monday from Reid, spokesman Jim Manley said:
“The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Sen. Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built some place else. If the Republicans are being sincere, they would help us pass this long overdue bill to help the first responders whose health and livelihoods have been devastated because of their bravery on 911, rather than continuing to block this much-needed legislation.”
Reid is in a tough reelection campaign with Tea Party darling Sharon Angle, who has come out against the mosque and earlier in the day issued a statement calling on Reid to do the same:
"As the Majority Leader, Harry Reid is usually President Obama's mouthpiece in the U.S. Senate, and yet he remains silent on this issue. Reid has a responsibility to stand up and say no to the mosque at Ground Zero or once again side with President Obama, this time against the families of 9/11 victims. America is waiting."
The White House said Obama's announcement of support for the mosque was not driven by politics. Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton said that Obama "felt it was his obligation as president to address this."
But the Administration had to know it would be used as ammunition against his already-embattled fellow Democrats who are running for House and Senate seats -- running for their lives, some pundits say. Indeed Republicans vow to use the President's support for the mosque as a major issue this fall.