President Barack Obama is seeking to clarify this week's statement that seemed to support a proposed Islamic cultural center with prayer space near ground zero.
"I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there," the president said. "I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding. That's what our country's about."
Obama's comment Saturday during a trip to Florida expanded on a statement he made the previous evening at a White House Iftar dinner. The president said Muslims have the same right to freedom of religion as everyone else in America.
A Republican senator is suggesting there could be political fallout from Obama's remarks. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn says said the president is "disconnected from mainstream America" and that voters this fall will "render their verdict." Cornyn leads the GOP's Senate campaign committee.
Critics say the center proposed for Park Place, now known as Park 51, would be an affront to those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. Supporters say the center would be a space for moderate Islam and interfaith dialogue. The project has won approval from Manhattan's Community Board 1 and has overcome a push to landmark the building that currently stands at the site.