August 18th, 2010
12:29 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama: 'no regrets' on Islamic Center

Columbus, Ohio (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Wednesday he has "no regrets" about his comments last week supporting the rights of Muslims to build an Islamic center and mosque two blocks from the site of the September 11 terror attacks in New York.

"The answer is no regrets," Obama said when asked about bringing up the issue last Friday at a White House dinner commemorating the start of Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

At the dinner, Obama said those wanting to build the Islamic center and mosque have the constitutional right to religious freedom. On Saturday, he clarified that he was talking only about the right to build the center and not the "wisdom" of doing so close to "ground zero," where more than 2,700 people died when planes hijacked by terrorists slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

The remarks sparked a national debate on the emotional issue, with many Republicans condemning the president as insensitive to families of victims and out of touch with the views of most Americans.

Many Democrats responded that the right to religious freedom applies to all Americans, though some - including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - said they oppose having the Islamic center so close to ground zero.

A CNN poll showed 70 percent of respondents opposed having an Islamic center near the site of the September 11 attacks. A separate poll released Wednesday by the Siena Research Institute found 63 percent opposed it, but 64 percent said the center's developers have a constitutional right to build it.

–CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this story

Filed under: issues • President Obama • Religion
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. Sam

    The question was one of those 'no winning' answer...In reality, what Obama said is true...everyone has a right to build their places of worships per rules. Had he said anything differently someone or the same people would have attacked him for not following the constitution. So leave him alone!

    August 18, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    But I was not sent to Washington just to do what was popular. I was sent to do what was right."

    And THAT is exactly why I voted for you, and continue to respect and stand by you.

    Oftentimes, doing the right thing DOES NOT make you the popular kid on the block. But it will make you respected amongst those that have any sense at all.

    It takes GUTS (COJONES) to do what is right when no one else HAS, or will. It takes cojones to do what needs to be done for the GREATER GOOD even when you personally are maligned for doing just so.
    Our President has COJONES aplenty.


    Obama 2012

    August 18, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Larry

    Thank heavens we have a president who understands the Constitution and is willing to defend it.

    August 18, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. ST

    There is no need of having a leader, if the people he is leading are thinking and making the decision the same way he does. Thats why before election, they go through debates so that to allow people to see how they think and what are the level of their knowledge.
    The president is right here, going by what polls say (which means people) is not leadership.

    August 18, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Of course you don't, Obama. You just go and do whatever you "think" is right, no matter what the majority of Americans think or how they feel. Narcissistic fool.

    August 18, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. All the news that is fit to omit

    Problem is campaigner/vacationer/liar in chief NOBODY was making the argument that you say they were making, unlike others that have uh, uh, uh, uh fortitude to make a tough call or a tough decision, WE all know that they have the RIGHT to put it there, BUT it is wrong to do so.

    Republicans, Independents, DEMOCRATS, blacks, whites, hispanics all across the board are against putting it there Barry.

    You and the LSM are making it sould like your making a tough choice when the facts dictate it "sounded like you did" but then you RAN from that choice.


    Campaigning and vacationing for three weeks Barry, wow, Jobs and the oil spill must be all set.......

    August 18, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Naqib


    So why did you backtrack a day later?
    90 Days to November... Lame Duck Time

    August 18, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. jim

    "But I was not sent to Washington just to do what was popular. I was sent to do what was right."

    this is why he has my vote.

    August 18, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. Christie

    Thank you, Mr. President for standing up for the Constitution!

    August 18, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. Pragmatic

    People polled in NYC have the same opinion as the President: there is a Constitutional Right to build on whatever on private property: (actually that is two "rights" Americans have) .... but the choice of that piece of property is not "the right" choice ... unless your purpose is controversy and reviving a horrible moment in our history.

    August 18, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. T sankara

    That's right Mr president! Keep-up the good work. Majority of America is with you despite the dumb-down case being made by republicans.

    August 18, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. T'SAH from Virginia

    TELL IT LIKE IT IS President Obama!!!!!

    I am sick and tired of PEOPLE taking everything President Obama says and trying their best to SPIN IT – knowing DAM* well they are wrong!!! I am sick of ginGRINCH, good & PAWlenty, the PA’IN, the QUAIL, inSANNITY, LimBAUGER cheese, et al and their “EMPTY” rhetoric!!!

    I also hate how the Democrats are 'JUMPING SHIP' and trying to SEPARATE themselves from President Obama when in actuality – they are 'separating' themselves from us (as quiet as it’s kept)!!!!!! The DEMS have no backbone and find it difficult to STICK TOGETHER!!!! It's annoying and a SIN!!! If you – meaning the Democrats – feel you cannot be a full-pledged DEMOCRAT – then YOU – meaning the Democrats in office – can be voted out too!! Stop being "Wussys"!!!

    August 18, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    If he was sent to Washington to do what was right...don't you think its about time to start. Except for the election flap in 2000, I can't remember such a contentious stat to an administratin..

    August 18, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. rwhidbee

    That sounds like a President.

    August 18, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  15. RickRude

    Now IF THAT is not PRESIDENTIAL.................................What do ya call it HATERS.

    August 18, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    Nor should he have any. After watching last night, I can safely say even David Gergen has his head in his rear end on this one. If Obama wants to start motivating the base and progressives, he has no choice but to stop p-ssyfooting and compromising on everything and start taking bolder stands on not only the real issues, but also on the fake ones the GOP invents (like this one) to distract the public from the fact that the GOP and conservatives have NOTHING to offer on the real issues. Their tired, debunked ideology of "bend over for corporate America and hope there's some lube left" hasn't worked in decades and the mepirical evidence of that is STAGGERING. They have nothing new, nothing clever, nothing creative, nothing fact-based, nothing the experts agree with to offer us regarding the economy, social/domestic issues, etc. Therefore, they work the anger, resentment, fear angle with the bigots and tinfoil hat wearing true-believers and use the noise to drown out anyone who wants to talk about what's actually important. America, including the media, can either wake up to it or continue down an accelerated path towards corporatocracy and a blighted future for the 99% of us who are not fabulously wealthy. Clock's ticking.

    August 18, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  17. Sue

    Obama hit it on target.......he was sent to DC to do what was right.....and that means upholding the Constitution.......regardless whether it sits well with the Party of Hate.......they are the one's that are going to change the Constitution not Obama.......Just listen to the radical statements coming out of their mouths and the mouths of the Tea Party......they only want the Constitution to stand for what they believe in and take it away from those who disagree with them

    August 18, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Georgia, Joe

    This whole issue is a drummed up controversy. The President stated the obvious, that under the Constitution, New York law and New York City Ordinance, the developer has the right to build a new building on private property that may house a mosque as one of it's functions. Whether the developer is making a wise or correct decision is a not a matter for the law or government to determine.

    August 18, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. Peter

    He will have regrets come November...

    August 18, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. AmericanDoc

    Ha, ha, ha, ha! Obama was sent to do what is right?! Just like judge walker in California decided what is right? Just like the democrats in the house and senate passed bills that were unpopular but right? Just like defining and defending the borders of our country is popular but not right? All hail King Obama!! He will tell us what is right and decide for us what we all shall do. The days are coming when the American public will show you what we will do. Democrats have demonstrated thier incompitance and malice toward America. Obama and co. should be fired, investigated, and put into Guantanamo for thier traitorous behavior. THEY SERVE US!! WE DO NOT SERVE THEM!! The democratic party should be disbanded! This will be evident in November and in the streets of America. I'm ready and I know which side I'm on.

    August 18, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. Breal123

    Love how the conservatives think that they can use the 1st amendment to their advantage (i.e. Dr Laura, Tea Party) but not for religious freedom of others. That is the point, plain and simple that Obama made. He stuck up for the contitution and the torch burning radicals are trying to crucify him for it.

    August 18, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Thank you Mr. President for standing up for the Constitution of the U.S.A. And since we are on the topic of constitutional rights, gays should be allowed to get married.

    August 18, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. IKHAN

    Mr. President,
    you did the right thing in keeping with the Spirit of our beloved country & the Constitution.
    Those spewing hate & venom on the non-issue of the Islamic Community Center several blocks away from Ground Zero are the people to be despised.

    August 18, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. Travis In Colorado

    Obama has no regrets because Obama is a muslim and is for anything that helps to destroy this country. And Obama is against anything that helps this country.

    And cue the leftist racist boring ramblings from Dominican Mama for Obama.

    August 18, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Alex

    Why would he have regrets? He was only defending the Constitution of America. Thank you, Mr. President, on behalf of all of us who ALWAYS honor the Constitution, as opposed to those who just scream about it at Teabagger rallies.

    August 18, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
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