Republican Pol Warns of Playing 'Political Football' With 'Ground Zero Mosque'

Soon after Obama said the developers of proposed Islamic center, now renamed Park 51, had the right to build, Republicans led by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, criticized the President for being out of touch and said they would use the issue to attack Democrats in tight races.

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid became the first Democrat forced by a Republican challenger to comment of the mosque. Sen. Reid, D- Nev., split with the president and said he was opposed to the center being built.

A White House spokesman said today the president did not regret speaking out about the issue, despite the uproar it caused the pressure it created on Democrats in close races.

"He felt it was his obligation to address this matter," White House press secretary Bill Burton said aboard Air Force One today.

New York Gov. David Paterson, a Democrat, seemed to indicate the Islamic center should be built elsewhere when he offered to help the developers find a different site for the project. A spokesman for Park51 denied today that any meetings with the govenors have been scheduled.

The Muslim American Society held a news conference at the National Press Club today to support the center's construction and the group's executive director Imam Mahdi Bray called opposition to it "just one more instance of 'Islam phobic' groups opposed to building any new mosques in the U.S."

"How far is too close?" Bray asked, stating that proposed mosques in both Brooklyn and Staten Island were also the subject of protests.

ABC News' Lisa Chinn contributed to this report

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