From Politico -- August 15, 2010:
GOP keeps mosque flap alive
Polling indicates that the mosque proposal is unpopular among voters, with a recent CNN survey showing that 68 percent of voters disapproving of the plan. But a top White House official told POLITICO Obama was determined to raise the issue, even though he knew polls were decisively against the mosque.
“We had no illusions about this. He didn't take this on as a political strategy. He took it on because it was a matter of fundamental principle. One of the reasons we work for him is that he doesn’t sit there with a political calculator on these big, tough issues that come along. There was never any hesitation about the decision, and he has absolutely no regrets about it,” the official said.
“He understands the emotions swirling around it and the horrific events that occurred there. But he doesn’t believe shifting from our moorings as a country on questions like religious freedom -- treating one faith differently than another -- is the right answer. It would be a betrayal of who we are.”
Other Democrats making the talk show rounds on Sunday defended the president’s comments on the principle of First Amendment rights, and criticized Republicans for double-talk on constitutional issues.
DNC Chairman Tim Kaine on CBS’s “Face the Nation” criticized Republicans for not doing enough to defend the Constitution — on the mosque issue as well as with the recently popularized movement to repeal or re-write the 14th Amendment.
“We see an awful lot of Republicans going out and saying we gotta respect the Constitution — and that means we gotta respect it. We can’t tarnish people’s First Amendment rights,” Kaine said.