Rubio: ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Controversy Won’t Hurt U.S.-Muslim Relations

Marco Rubio says that Muslims in other nations should look fondly on the United States as a bastion of religious tolerance following the Cordoba House flap. Rubio, the Florida Republican running against Independent Gov. Charlie Crist in a tight Senate race, has joined the chorus of politicians publicly opposing the proposed lower Manhattan Islamic cultural center on the grounds that building it would be “opening wounds” from 9/11.

On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, I asked Rubio how he thought views like his would play among moderate Muslims across the globe. (At an event I attended earlier today, some religious leaders suggested that the tough rhetoric opposing the project could have a negative effect on the way Muslims view the United States.)

“I would point out to Muslims all over the world that America is one of the few countries on earth where every faith is represented,” Rubio said. “We have a long and cherished tradition of religious liberties and freedom, and none of that is being questioned in my mind.”“The question” about the Cordoba House, Rubio added, “is whether it’s the right thing to do, not the legal thing to do. Building a mosque there has opened wounds, and it’s been hurtful. And that’s why I think it’s not the right place at the right time.”

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

Rubio is among the many Florida politicians to come out in opposition to the Cordoba House project in recent days.