Rand Paul — whose belief in the absolute preeminence of private property rights has put him in hot water before — appears to be attempting to thread the needle when it comes to the Cordoba House project in lower Manhattan. He says the project is a local issue that should be left to local authorities to handle — but he also says that the Islamic community center shouldn’t be built in the controversial lower Manhattan site.
What’s more, he says, if Muslims really want to do right by the 9/11 families who Republicans say are offended by the Cordoba House project, they should do something else with their money besides building a cultural center.
[TPM SLIDESHOW: Welcome To The Neighborhood: A Look At The Area Around The ‘Ground Zero Mosque’]“While this is a local matter that should be decided by the people of New York, Dr. Paul does not support a mosque being built two blocks from Ground Zero,” Paul spokesperson Gary Howard told TPMDC. “In Dr. Paul’s opinion, the Muslim community would better serve the healing process by making a donation to the memorial fund for the victims of September 11th.”
Until now, Paul’s official stance on the Cordoba House project was a bit confusing. Yesterday, a Kentucky blogger quoted Howard as saying Paul wasn’t taking a stance on the project.
“We don’t want New York intervening in our local Kentucky issues, and we don’t look to interfere with New York’s local issues,” Howard told the blogger.
Later, though, Paul seemed to go a different direction. He reportedly told WBKO-TV that he didn’t support “a mosque being built near ‘Ground Zero’ in New York,” and he called for Muslims to scrap the whole controversy and give money to the 9/11 memorial fund instead.
Howard did not respond to followup questions about the discrepancies between his statement yesterday and Paul’s today. Today, it seems, Paul’s official take on the project is an amalgam of the two — Paul thinks the project is a local issue, shouldn’t be built and he thinks Muslims should give to the 9/11 victims memorial fund instead.
The campaign of his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, declined to offer a take on the Cordoba House project when I asked about it yesterday.