Are Republicans Alienating Hispanic and Muslim Voters?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, however, said she "respects the right of people in this country to express their religious beliefs in their property" and that the issue should be left up to New Yorkers. But she added that she joins those who have called for looking at "how is this opposition of the mosque being funded."

"There's no question that there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters, adding that she wants to know how this is "being ginned up."

Obama said on Friday he believes "that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan."

As far as the issue of the Islamic Center is concerned, the Republican party has many voices and voters will understand that, said Republican consultant Ron Kaufman.

Some Republicans, specifically Bush administration officials, have spoken out against the outcry that's been created since the president made his remarks, and expressed concern that the GOP is taking the issue too far.

Ted Olson, who served as solicitor general under President Bush and whose first wife died in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, today expressed his support for the Islamic center.

"I think probably the president was right about this. I do believe that people of all religions have a right to build edifices or structures or places of religious study where the community allows them to do it under the zoning laws and that sort of thing," Olson told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "I don't think it should be a political issue."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called on both parties -- especially his fellow Republicans -- to temper their attacks, although he wouldn't comment on where he thinks the mosque should be built.

"We cannot paint all of Islam with that brush," said 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. And what disturbs me about the president's remarks is that he is now using it as a political football as well. I think the president of the United States should rise above that."

At a time when the economy and jobs remain Americans' top concerns, turning the Islamic center into a campaign issue could also make Republicans seem out of touch with the issues that Americans care most about.

On the immigration front, many Hispanics, the fastest growing minority group in the United States, are outraged at a new Arizona law that requires law enforcement to ask people for their immigration documents if they have "reasonable suspicion" that someone being detained is an illegal immigrant.

Similar laws are being considered around the country, and the crackdown in states such as Texas and Arizona that have a sizeable Latino population could divert Hispanic votes to Democrats.

Even Marco Rubio, the Republicans' star Latino candidate who is running for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida, initially opposed the Arizona law although he switched his position in May and said he would have voted for the law if he were in the Arizona state legislature.

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