TODAY | August 15, 2010
>> pan handle. mike viqueira joins us from panama city beach , florida. mike, good morning.
>> good morning, jenna . the obamas are out and about on the gulf coast this weekend, in events designed to show americans that it's safe to come back here to the beach and it's safe to get back in the water. but in between outings, both the president and his aides have had to deal with the aftermath of those controversial comments about that mosque near ground zero . even as the first couple and daughter sasha arrived on the gulf coast for a weekend getaway, it was mr. obama 's support for the construction of a mosque close to new york's ground zero that has proven controversial.
>> i believe that muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. that includes the right to build a place of worship in a community center on private property in lower manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances.
>> reporter: his remarks at a white house dinner honoring the start of the mugs limb holy month ramadan came after aides repeatedly declined to take sides calling it a local matter. conservatives as well as some victims' families condemn the president's support.
>> it's irresponsible and morally wrong and incentive to do it.
>> reporter: in florida the president spoke out again, appearing to backtrack on his support of the mosque saying i was not commenting and i will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a moving mosque there. p. i was commenting on the right people have that dates back to our founding. the obama visit along the gulf coast comes as a message.
>> oil is no longer flowing into the gulf. it has not been flowing for a month. i'm here to tell you that our job is not finished and we are not going anywhere until it is.
>> reporter: the visit here is as much about pictures as it is about policy. the obamas want to set an example for a reluctant tourists by visiting gulf restaurants, even playing mini golf where 9-year-old sasha got a hole in one.
>> did you guys see that one?
>> reporter: what about a dip in the gulf.
>> i'm going to go swimming but we're not going to let the press pool come because you guys all take a picture of me without my shirt on.
>> reporter: problem solved. the white house released this picture of a mostly submerged mr. obama and daughter sasha . about jenna , one irony here is that swim took place on the other side, the bayside of this barrier island and though the beaches here are pristine and the water is clear, the surf is rough this weekend life guards are keeping people out of the water. jenna ?
>> mike viqueira, thanks so much.