President Barack Obama should have stayed out of the ground zero mosque debate, says Rand Paul, the GOP’s U.S. Senate nominee from Kentucky.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Paul insisted that the president was wrong to endorse building the mosque two blocks from ground zero, which Paul says “is not good symbolism.”
Obama’s support came on Aug. 13, during the White House’s annual Iftar dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Story continues below.
"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama said at the dinner. "That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”
The fact that pieces of the plane that hit the World Trade Center’s south tower landed on the site on 9/11 has added to the controversy.
Paul says, “If the Islamic community in the United States wants to send the message they are very much opposed to what happened on 9/11 — and there are many very good Muslims in our country who do believe that — I think the better symbolism would be to give to the memorial fund to show that they are for reconciliation rather than putting a mosque that is doing the opposite right now.”
A Rasmussen Reports poll last month found Americans oppose building the mosque at the proposed site by a 54 percent to 20 percent margin, and the plan also has drawn criticism from some Muslims who see the project as insensitive.
Asked whether Obama shares most Americans’ values on the mosque and other issues, Paul responds: “I think he is a liberal elitist and that he believes that he knows what is best for people. And this is true of a lot of liberals.
“They think they can tell us what to do and that most Americans aren’t smart enough to take care of themselves, and I think that’s a really arrogant approach to the American people.”
The American people do best when they are free from government interference in their daily lives, Paul says.
Paul, who leads Democratic rival Attorney General Jack Conway in the polls, says the tea party movement has served a vital role in taking the GOP back to its small-government roots.
“I tell people the tea party is equal-parts chastisement to both parties over their failure to do anything about out of control federal spending and the deficit,” he says.
Paul promises to balance the budget and push through a balanced-budget amendment if elected.
© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.