Rand Paul and the Mosque


On Monday, the Marion County Line blog published a quick reaction from the Rand Paul campaign about the Lower Manhattan mosque hullaballoo:

Dr. Rand Paul's new spokesperson, Gary Howard, sent us this quick note:

We are focused on this race and the issues affecting Kentucky. We don't want New York intervening in our local Kentucky issues, and we don't look to interfere with New York's local issues.

So Paul was refusing to weigh in, on grounds of jurisdictional principle and relevant-issues focus? Not by mid-week, no. Here he is being interviewed by Liberty Maven:

LM: Recently, Senator Harry Reid came out against the plan to build a mosque near the site of the September 11th attacks. Given he is in a difficult campaign race it is hard to say if his opinion is for political reasons. Are you for or against building of the mosque? Do you consider it a property rights issue and/or religious freedom issue?

Rand Paul: While this is a local matter that will be decided by the people of New York, I do not support a mosque being built two blocks from Ground Zero. In my opinion, the Muslim community would better serve the healing process by making a donation to the memorial fund for the victims of September 11th.

Similar "doesn't support" comments to Bowling Green's WBKO were interpreted into an "Rand Paul Opposes Ground Zero Mosque" headline in The Huffington Post (if you think that's hair-splitting–and you may be right!–ponder the difference between "doesn't like" and "dislike"). Paul also tells a similar story to The Daily Caller:

"I'm not sure I think the federal government should weigh in on it," he said. "I think it's probably a mistake for the president to be weighing in on favor of it as well."

If the goal of the building's organizers is to reconcile, Paul thinks there's a better way to do that. "I think reconciliation is best promoted by — instead of having a multi-million dollar mosque — maybe having a multi-million dollar donation to the memorial site, would be better for all."

Click on all of those interviews for extended commentary on stuff actually relevant to senatorial work. For instance, in The Daily Caller:

He said both parties — and not just the Democrats — will have to admit that they've contributed to the deficit. "I think you can work across the aisle if you're honest about those things, the shortcomings of your party, and make things less about the party and more about the issue, I think you can work across the party line."

Republicans will have to get past not wanting to cut defense expenditures, he said, and Democrats will have to get past wanting to cut non-defense expenditures. "If you're serious about addressing it…the only way a serious person can do it is look across the entire length and breath of the budget."

Related: "Mosque debate strains tea party, GOP" (Politico), and "The Trouble With Ideology" (The American Prospect).

Reason on Rand Paul here, on the mosque here. Links via Doug Mataconis.