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      Mosque debate: Is it getting too political?

      The proposed mosque near ground zero continues to fuel debate from coast to coast.

      From politicians to everyday Americans, it seem everyone has an opinion about whether the mosque should be built, whether it's too close to the site where thousands of innocent people were murdered or perhaps whether this is a teachable moment about religious tolerance.

      Now, a new campaign ad in the race for governor of New York is raising some eyebrows. It's a new web video that features GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio's campaign. Set to somber music, it uses images from September 11, 2001 and undoubtedly strikes an emotional chord. Who wouldn't be affected by images from that horrific day that none of us will ever forget? The ad features interviews with people opposed to the mosque so close to hallowed ground and questions why Andrew Cuomo hasn't done more to investigate the trail of money and who's really behind the funding of the proposed mosque.

      In a blog posted today by Maggie Haberman on politico.com , questions are raised about whether the ad crosses the lines by turning it into a campaign issue.

      This comes on a day when Lazio begins another statewide television ad campaign against Democrat Andrew Cuomo, claiming Cuomo isn't capable of cleaning up New York state government because he's part of the problem. The 30-second commercial shows Lazio saying special interests run Albany and it's Cuomo's world. He says Cuomo won't fix Albany's overtaxing and ethical lapses because the Democrats in charge are his allies. A Cuomo spokesman declined comment to the Associated Press.

      Cuomo, the current attorney general, is far ahead of Lazio and fellow Republican Carl Paladino in the polls, with a 60 percent approval rating.

      Meanwhile, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is making his support for the proposed mosque crystal clear today. He's posted large signs in the windows of his Manhattan apartment, using the symbols of world religions to spell out "coexist," starting with an Islamic star and crescent for the "C" and finishing with a Christian cross for the "T."

      Another strong supporter of the mosque is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says not allowing a proposed mosque to be built near ground zero would undercut the values and principles that so many heroes died protecting. "The question will then become how big should the no-mosque zone around the World Trade Center be. There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it, too, be moved?" Bloomberg said.

      Still, it's an issue that has divided Americans. Many are outspoken in their opposition to the mosque, certainly about it's proximity to ground zero. A national survey underscores the complex views of Americans toward the mosque project, with 51 percent opposing it, while 34 percent say they supported it. While supporters of the mosque say religious freedom should be protected, opponents say the mosque should be moved farther away from ground zero.

      The controversy has many people taking to websites to weigh in on the debate. On the New York magazine's website, one reader writes, "It feels as though we are being made to turn on each other...dividing down the middle. No one wants to be that intolerant person, black hearted and wild eyed, blind with their own misunderstanding...but it just doesn't feel right. Does it?"

      Another is critical of Lazio's new campaign ad, saying "to me using images of 9/11 in a political campaign is far more insensitive then building a mosque a couple blocks away from the site."

      And yet another person supports the new ad, saying "Good for Lazio. I volunteered for months at ground zero after the attacks. If most New Yorkers had seen what I saw, they would see that it is not sensitive to have the mosque there."

      Take a moment to watch the new web video created by Lazio's campaign. Click here to watch it.

      Do you feel strongly about the mosque debate? Does the new Lazio campaign ad politicize an already highly-emotional issue? Do you think Cuomo should investigate who's paying for the mosque? Does the ad make you support Lazio or Cuomo? Leave a comment below.

      Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.

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