Harold Ford: Sen. Reid Gave Candidates ‘Cover’ to Break with Obama Over Ground Zero Mosque

By Kate McCarthy

Aug 17, 2010 8:53am

That’s what Ford told me on "GMA" this morning.

"Reid’s comments yesterday opened the door for all Senate candidates to be asked about this," he said.

"Reid has given his colleagues and those running for office cover in saying we support the right to build, but this may not be the place to build," Ford said.  

Ford acknowledged that Obama could have spoke more "artfully" about the Islamic center controversy when he first weighed in with his opinion Friday night.

"If he believed that there is a right to build, but perhaps they should not build in that location, he probably should have just said that," the former Tennessee Democratic Congressman said. "I think the follow-up has created some confusion and probably will create some consternation in political circles within the [Democratic] party," Ford said.

The politics became "so intense" surrounding this controversy that Ford, who supports Obama’s position, said that the only compromise could be to move the center.

"It may be that the politics has gotten so intense that you may have to consider moving this just a few blocks away," Ford said. "And perhaps you can find democrat, republican, liberal, conservative support for this."

Republicans have pounced on Obama’s comments, but will this controversy remain an issue through November? Ford said while the topic is important, it is a "distraction" from jobs and the economy which are first in people’s minds.

"In politics…these kinds of distractions can define campaigns in the last eight weeks," he said.

Watch my interview here and then weigh-in below.

George Stephanopoulos

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