President Obama refined his defense of the Ground Zero mosque Saturday, saying his previous comments defended the right to build it, not the "wisdom" of its location.Backpedaling.
The clarification came less than 24 hours after he spoke in support of the project during a White House celebration for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"My intention was simply to let people know what I thought, which was that in this country, we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion," the President said during a visit to the Gulf Coast Saturday.
"I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there," Obama said. "I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That's what our country is about."
Obama's Friday night remarks on Park51 - a planned Islamic community center and prayer space two blocks north of Ground Zero - sparked strong reactions from both sides of the issue.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Obama "profoundly wrong" via Twitter.
"There is no issue of religious liberty. He won't face truth," Gingrich wrote.