CBS's Erica Hill to Ann Coulter: Will Mosque Issue 'Go Away' Before November Elections?

Erica Hill and Ann Coulter, CBS Speaking to conservative commentator Ann Coulter on Thursday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill seemed to hope the Ground Zero mosque controversy had run its course: "Does it go away or does this continue through November?"

Hill's question to Coulter followed fellow guest, Democratic strategist Tanya Acker, ranting: "...the notion that in the United States of America we would deny people the right to have a religious edifice is simply – like, that's just not – it's unconscionable....I think that smart Republicans, fair Republicans, fair people of all political persuasions need to look – are looking at this really as a constitutional issue and really as a freedom issue. It should not be this political question that it's become." Picking up on Acker's argument, Hill turned to Coulter: "So, it shouldn't be a political issue. Though is it going to continue to be one as we head to November?"

In her response, Coulter fired back at Acker: "I will say Tanya's absolutely giving the Democratic position. America, you want a mosque at Ground Zero, you vote for the Democrats." Acker angrily replied: "No. No, I'm giving – I'm giving the American position, Ann. I'm giving the American position because my constitution says that-" Hill then interrupted, notifying both guests that they were out of time.

At the top of the segment, Hill asked both Coulter and Acker for their reactions to the pullout of major U.S. combat forces from Iraq. Beginning with Coulter, Hill wondered: "...this is happening two weeks ahead of President Obama's schedule, Ann. Is this, perhaps, a step forward for the administration, some more positive news coming out?" Coulter replied: "Well, Iraq isn't really his war. That is George Bush's and it's gone very well." Hill interjected: "This was his deadline, though."

Here is a full transcript of the August 19 segment:

7:00AM TEASE

HARRY SMITH: No regrets. President Obama insists Muslims have the right to build a community center and mosque near Ground Zero. Though a growing number of Democrats say it's the wrong place, and a majority of Americans agree.

7:07AM SEGMENT:

ERICA HILL: Joining us now with their take on the political impact of all this are conservative commentator Ann Coulter and Democratic Party strategist Tanya Acker. Good to have both of you with us this morning. So the last large U.S. combat brigade leaving Iraq. Obviously there are still troops there, as we heard from the General [Steven Lanza], talking about that as well. But this is happening two weeks ahead of President Obama's schedule, Ann. Is this, perhaps, a step forward for the administration, some more positive news coming out?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Heading Towards The Midterms; Political Impact of Iraq Pullout]

ANN COULTER: Well, Iraq isn't really his war. That is George Bush's and it's gone very well.

HILL: This was his deadline, though.

COULTER: Afghanistan is his war and that's not going so well.

HILL: So you're not seeing any positive-

COULTER: No. I think he's been a disaster on foreign policy. I mean, there was a reason to concentrate on Iraq. Iraq is good for regime change. The people are fairly educated. That is exactly the opposite in Afghanistan. You're dealing with peasants who are stoning a couple who elope. Turning that country into a democracy, I think, is a pipe dream, which is why with Bush he went in, he knocked out the Taliban, left a few troops behind. But then turned the major war on terrorism into Iraq, a country that's good military, that is sitting on a lot of oil, that's in the middle of a crucial region of the world. What do we want to be in Afghanistan for? And instead, this president, purely out of political correctness, because he wanted to respond to MoveOn.org crowd about 'oh, Iraq, it's a war of convenience, whereas Afghanistan it's a war of necessity.' No, no, no, no, no. Bush cared about national security. This guy about – Obama cares about political correctness. And it's a big mistake.

HILL: Tanya, I hear you – I can hear you in the background there. I know you want to jump in, go ahead.

TANYA ACKER: Well, it's so funny because Ann's perspective is so completely ahistorical, and also, it seems – she seems to not have a very good grasp of American political science. Barack Obama's the President of the United States right now, which means that Iraq is his war. It also means Afghanistan, too, is his war, as it was George Bush's war when he first directed that operation. I'd also remind Ann that Afghanistan is –  borders this country called Pakistan. And that's – there's a reason that we need to keep that country and that region of the world stable. But all that aside, and you know, putting some of that nonsense, bracketing that for a moment, I think the General [Steven Lanza] made a really good point. It is time now that we let the Iraqi people govern themselves. They need to rule themselves. And that – that military really needs to take responsibility for its own country's security. We're not gone. We're going to provide a very important, valuable training mechanism. But I definitely think this is a step in the right direction.

HILL: There's been so much talk. It seems every day something new comes out about plans for a mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero. Tanya, I'll let you kick this one off. We're hearing again from the President on this, saying he doesn't regret those comments. Is this the kind of thing that's going to go away or is this starting to shape, in fact, the road to November elections?

ACKER: Well, you know, look, I think there are a lot of partisans who are going to try to turn this into an even nastier issue than it's become. But I think that we would all be wise to follow Ted Olsen's lead, George Bush's former solicitor general who lost his wife on 9/11, who said that the notion that in the United States of America we would deny people the right to have a religious edifice is simply – like, that's just not – it's unconscionable. And I think the President's doing the right thing. I think that smart Republicans, fair Republicans, fair people of all political persuasions need to look – are looking at this really as a constitutional issue and really as a freedom issue. It should not be this political question that it's become.

HILL: So, it shouldn't be a political issue. Though is it going to continue to be one as we head to November?

COULTER: Well, one person made it not only a political issue but a national political issue and that is President Obama. Who wanted a standing ovation from a Muslim audience at a Ramadan dinner at the White House. So he comes out in favor of the mosque. And then as soon as he's not in front of a crowd that's going to give him a standing ovation for that, he's taken it back. I don't know what his position is now that he claims he's standing by.

HILL: Does it go – does it go away though? Does it go away or does this continue through November, before I let you go?

COULTER: Not until we know what's going to happen to that mosque at Ground Zero. And I will say Tanya's absolutely giving the Democratic position. America, you want a mosque at Ground Zero, you vote for the Democrats.

ACKER: No. No, I'm giving – I'm giving the American position, Ann. I'm giving the American position because my constitution says that-

HILL: Ladies, we have to leave it there. But there is much more to talk about in the months ahead. Don't worry. Tanya Acker, Ann Coulter, good to have both of you with us this morning.

ACKER: Thank you.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC