Obama Assails GOP on Economy, Addresses NYC Islamic Center

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Obama today spoke passionately for the freedom of Muslims build an Islamic center near Ground Zero. Since the president weighed in early last month, Republicans have seized upon the issue.

VIDEO: A sneak peek at the presidents interview with George Stephanopoulos.
Obama's Midterm Election Diagnosis

"This country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights," the president said at the end of his press conference. "And what it means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site."

Reminding Americans of Muslims who are serving in the U.S. armed forces, Obama cautioned people to beware of the real enemy and to not "turn on each other."

"We are not at war against Islam. We're at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts. We've got to be clear about that," Obama said. "From a national security interest, we have to be clear about who the enemy is here."

Obama Holds News Conference

Obama praised Goolsbee as a "brilliant economist" who has "a deep appreciation of how the economy affects everyday people."

The former chair, Christina Romer, departed last week, returning to teach at the University of California at Berkeley.

Goolsbee, 41, has already been confirmed by the Senate to serve as one of the three economists on the CEA; Obama has the prerogative to appoint the chair.

After a brief holiday and hosting Israeli and Palestinian leaders for peace talks, the president has turned back toward the economy -- the chief issue in the upcoming mid-term elections. Earlier this week, Obama announced new incentives for businesses and assailed Republicans for impeding his efforts and for wanting to revert to "the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place."

With Democrats embroiled in tight races around the country, and polls showing Republicans regaining their majority this November, the administration is aiming to paint the choice for voters as one between reverting to policies of the Bush administration and one that will solve economic issues in the long term.

Republicans are calling for Obama to extend the Bush administration tax cuts that expire at the end of the year.

Earlier this week, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, proposed a two-point plan, calling for a bill that would cut non-security spending to 2008 levels and enact a freeze on tax rates.

But the White House argues those cuts only benefit the wealthy.

"There was just the same philosophy we already tried for the last decade; the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place. Cut more taxes for millionaires and cut more rules for corporations," the president said earlier this week at a speech in Cleveland, Ohio.

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