A White House spokesman says politics wasn't a factor in President Barack Obama's remarks about building a mosque near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York City.
Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton said it was "not politics" but Obama's feeling that he had the obligation as president to "make sure people are treated equally" under the Constitution.
Obama has said that religious freedom allows the mosque to be built, but without commenting on the wisdom of building one two blocks from ground zero. Republicans have pounded him for his comments, making it a prime midterm election issue.
Burton said Obama "felt it was his obligation as president to address this." Obama was on the way to Wisconsin for fundraising.
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.