Washington (CNN) - House Minority Leader John Boehner came out forcefully against President Obama's decision to back the construction of an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, calling the endorsement "deeply troubling."
But Boehner is scheduled to headline a fundraiser in upstate New York on Friday for a Republican House candidate who recently took a position quite similar to Obama's.
The candidate, Chris Gibson, is challenging Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy in New York's 20th congressional district. On his Facebook page last Wednesday, Gibson responded to a voter who wanted to know his position on the controversial project.
A former Army officer and Iraq combat veteran, Gibson condemned Islamic extremism and expressed sympathy for the families of 9/11 victims. But he also said that "any attempt to single out Islam would be a violation of the Constitution." American Muslims "are friends and good citizens and we must honor their right to practice their religion," he said.
Emotions about 9/11 run high, Gibson wrote, "but in my view, as it relates to religious buildings in the vicinity of Ground Zero, it's either all or nothing – churches synagogues and mosques should be treated the same."
That post, forwarded to CNN by a Democrat following the race, has since been removed from Gibson's Facebook page. Dan Odescalchi, a spokesman for Gibson, said he wasn't sure why the post was removed but said there some "nasty things" written on the candidate's Facebook profile and several posts were removed by staff as a consequence.
Asked if Gibson still supports the right to construct the mosque, Odescalchi directed CNN to a newer Facebook post in which Gibson advocates for a 9/11 memorial "that celebrates all religions and mankind's hope for peace.
A spokesman for Boehner had no comment on Gibson's statement.
UPDATE: The original version of this post failed to mention that in his original Facebook post, Gibson also suggested a way to sidestep the controversy: re-zone the private property on which the proposed mosque will be built.
Gibson's full comment was as follows: "Given the emotions associated with this sacred ground, it may be best to zone this land either commercial or state park," he wrote. "But in my view, as it relates to religious buildings in the vicinity of Ground Zero, it's either all or nothing – churches synagogues and mosques should be treated the same."
Hey Bonehead Boehner: President Obama DID NOT back the decision to buid a mosque near Ground Zero. He merely asserted the right to build on private property. He was quoting the Constitution. Remember that pesly old thing?
Typical Republican hypocrisy! Too bad people found out and are now spreading the word that you can't be trusted.
It's time to actually stand up for what you think and not what is convenient and could get you elected. Politics makes me sick.
I agree with the all or nothing idea – however, trying to find a suitable place to relocate the Mosque is something worth trying to preserve peace.
Stop just opposing, protesting, and blaming!!! Come up with solutions!!!
Boehner is a classless hypocrite.
The GOP is so lacking in any ideas, plans or thoughts that their only talking point is this mosque. Yeah, good luck with that.
Give John Boner a break......There is probably an Private Men only Golf course nearby that he wants to play so of course he'll be there to raise money........Gotta pay for those greens fees you know
What a slime bucket.............
Only a country that is truly free and religiously tolerant would allow a mosque to be build near the World Trade Center bombing.
If you put some higher level thought into the issue, it becomes apparent that, not only is it the right thing to do, it is also wise from a strategic standpoint. At least to the extent one is interested in eroding extremist recruitment success.
Interesting how the Republicans give lip service to freedom and limited government ideals, yet their actions, time and time again, belie their words.
Much like the Republicans new found concern with the deficit. In power, it is beyond cavil that Republican administrations from the past thirty years have dramatically increased the debt load of the federal government. Once again, deeds not words.
Obama was right and so is Chris Gibson. Our elected leaders should remember they are sworn to protect the Constitution, which protects all religions.