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As plans to build an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York City become political fodder for the fall elections on a national scale, it's become shorthand to imply that all 9/11 families oppose the erection of the mosque two blocks from the site where terrorists downed the World Trade Center nearly nine years ago.

But in fact, no cohesive position has emerged from the thousands of 9/11 families who have been politically influential on many issues in the past. One group which has opposed war has come out strongly in favor of the mosque project, known as Cordoba House. Others have avoided even addressing the issue.

"There is no simple, singular 9/11 group who really should or could speak for all 9/11 family members," said Donna Marsh O'Connor of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a coalition of more than 250 families which recently endorsed the mosque. Since the endorsement, the membership numbers have grown, she said.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has now spoken out on the Muslim community center in New York -- saying that while the organizers are free to construct the project, it should be moved somewhere else.

"The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Senator Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built some place else," said a statement from Reid spokesman Jim Manley. "If the Republicans are being sincere, they would help us pass this long overdue bill to help the first responders whose health and livelihoods have been devastated because of their bravery on 911, rather than continuing to block this much-needed legislation."

Reid's statement comes after President Obama's comments over the weekend defending the right of Muslims to build the center near Ground Zero, which Republicans immediately pounced upon. Earlier today, Reid's GOP opponent Sharron Angle came out with a statement attacking Obama, and calling upon Reid to speak up: "As the Majority Leader, Harry Reid is usually President Obama's mouthpiece in the U.S. Senate, and yet he remains silent on this issue. Reid has a responsibility to stand up and say no to the mosque at Ground Zero or once again side with President Obama---this time against the families of 9/11 victims. America is waiting."

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Welcome To The Neighborhood? A Look At The Area Around The 'Ground Zero Mosque']

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From Terri Schiavo to "death panels," Congressional recesses have long bred political controversies. But while some (like Schiavo) fizzle, others, (like "death panels") have a lasting impact on policy and politics. An open question for now is whether the row over the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" will be with us past August.

Republicans and conservative activists have made no secret of the fact that they want the issue to have legs, but that gets trickier when politicians return to Washington to actually govern. One option Republicans will have to pressure Democrats on the issue will be to force Democrats to vote on the question of whether they support the cultural center and mosque.

"There are no plans to do that at this point," says a top Republican House aide. "It's a month away, and I'd guess any chances we get to message...will be focused on jobs."

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An amusing meme has popped up on the right, opposing the state education aid bill that passed last week: It's not just bad policy from big-spending Washington liberals -- it's a criminal enterprise!

Here's how the logic goes: President Obama and the Democrats spent a lot of money to prop up school districts in the midst of a tough economy and revenue shortfalls at the district level. Much of that money will pay teachers; some of that money will then go to union dues; in turn, the unions will spend money to campaign for Democrats. Ergo, the whole bill was an act of money laundering, to have the federal government fund Democratic campaigns.

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Arguably, the recent partisan griping over the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" really went from a simmer to a boil in mid-July, when former half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin went on a Twitter rampage, calling on New York Muslims to "refudiate" the Cordoba initiative.

If that were truly the case, it would be a fitting tribute to the role Palin played last August when she popularized the conservative obsession with euthanasia by claiming the Democrats' health care bill contained "death panels."

But in reality, the loaded and inaccurate term "Ground Zero Mosque" had a much more organic rise to prominence beginning this past spring, when Palin and the GOP were instead politicking on the oil spill, the New Black Panthers and other right wing causes célèbre.

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Surprise South Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Alvin Greene told reporters over the weekend that he is staying in the race despite being indicted on obscenity charges last week.

And in a somewhat bizarre display, Greene also shooed the WCNC reporters away after they asked how he could stay in the race, ordering them to "leave the property. Go away." When the crew remained to talk to Greene's brother, the Democrat could be heard shouting "Gooo!" and "Nooo!" at them.

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1||A lot has been made of the proximity of the planned Cordoba House Muslim community center to Ground Zero in New York City. But what does the neighborhood actually look like? Here are some photos from the three-block area surrounding the proposed site.||Google Maps&&

2||The Cordoba House site itself, formerly a Burlington Coat Factory, on Park Place.||Newscom/Zuma&&

3||New York Dolls strip club, one block north of the proposed Cordoba House site, and 4 blocks north of the World Trade Center. ||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

4||Church Street between Barclay Street and Park Place.||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

5||The corner of Park Place and West Broadway.||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

6||St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church on Barclay Street near Church Street.||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

7|| ||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

8||The corner of Church Street and Park Place.||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

9|| ||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

10||St Paul's Chapel on Broadway between Fulton Street and Vesey Street.||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

11|| ||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

12|| ||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

13|| ||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

14||City Hall Park near Broadway and Vesey Street.||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

15|| ||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

16|| ||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

17||A view south from the corner of Greenwich Street and Murray Street.||Photo by Jens Schott Knudsen&&

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) appeared this morning on Fox & Friends, and further laid out his opposition to the building of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York City. Indeed, Gingrich said that the center's organizers have a radical Islamist agenda of proclaiming their triumph and superiority over America, and he compared them to Nazis putting up a sign near the Holocaust Museum.

"Look this is not about the right -- first of all, there are over a hundred mosques in New York City. So people have the right to free religion, if they want it. I've said it openly, if they want to build this mosque in the South Bronx, I'm all for it," said Gingrich. "Gov. Paterson has offered them state land -- which, interestingly, I don't know of any state that has offered a church or a synagogue free land -- but he's tried to solve the problem by getting them away from the site."

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Welcome To The Neighborhood? A Look At The Area Around The 'Ground Zero Mosque']

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Polling numbers from Mason-Dixon over the weekend suggest that after a couple of months of chaos, things are finally returning to normal in the race to be the next Senator from Florida. And here's what normal looks like in the Sunshine State: the establishment Democrat, with the backing of President Clinton and President Obama, is leading the race for his party's nomination. And the Republican nominee is leading in the general election.

A new Mason-Dixon poll shows Rep. Kendrick Meek -- the Democratic Party choice in the race -- well ahead of the upstart billionaire, Jeff Greene, who's poured millions into the primary race to knock Meek off. The poll, conducted Aug. 9-11, shows Meek leading Greene 40-26. Another new poll, conduced by the Florida news site Sunshine State News, also shows Meek with a double-digit lead in the primary race.

However, past polling, including another new poll from the weekend, has shown the race to be considerably tighter. The weekend's Ipsos poll shows Greene leading 35-31, which keeps with what we've seen in the past.

Meanwhile, the Mason-Dixon poll shows that Gov. Charlie Crist's plan to salvage his collapsed Republican campaign for Senate with an independent bid has put him right back where he was before -- running behind Republican Marco Rubio.

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