Bloomberg: Palin ‘not a racist’ for NYC mosque view

Sarah Palin's "not a racist, just for the record," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference Monday, commenting on a City Hall aide's messages on Twitter criticizing Palin's opposition of the proposed mosque at ground zero.

With her BlackBerry on Sunday, the former vice presidential hopeful tweeted that New Yorkers and Muslims should reject plans to build a mosque and Muslim community center near ground zero, and by doing so invented a new word: refudiate.

"Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesnt it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate," Palin tweeted.

One of Bloomberg's aides, Andrea Batista Schlesinger, responded Tuesday to Sarah Palin's string of messages by posting: "@SarahPalinUSA whose hearts? Racist hearts?"

When a reporter during a press conference asked Bloomberg about the aide's tweet, it seemed for a moment he agreed with the aide's sentiment; which he said "seemed to suggest that Palin was being racist," Bloomberg responded by saying "I thought she was more than 'seemed to.'"

However, he later clarified that he was referring to Schlesinger, not Palin. When an aide handed the mayor a note during the conference, he said, "somebody said I just called her a racist? I did not. I don't think so."

Bloomberg defended Schlesinger's right to an opinion, saying "freedom of speech is just as important as freedom of religion."

"I don't agree with Andrea on a lot of things," Bloomberg said, "and I don't agree with Sarah Palin on a lot of things."

Palin's original message on Sunday, which was later corrected with a second post, drew fire partly because of her using a made-up word: "refudiate."

In response, Palin fired back to critics by comparing herself to Shakespeare.

"Refudiate, misunderestimate, wee-weed up. English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!" she wrote.

Palin served as governor of Alaska from 2006 to 2009, when she resigned, and currently does not hold public office.

New York's Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio has also spoken out against plans to build a mosque near ground zero.

At a Landmarks Commission meeting, Lazio asked that the site be landmarked to stymie the mosques construction. Lazio has also demanded an investigation into the mosques financing.

Daisy Kahn, a spokesperson for the American Society for Muslim Advancement, which is planning to set up shop at the downtown site, said in a statement, "We agree with Ms. Palin that it is time to heal from the wounds of the tragic events of 9/11. We peace- loving Muslims have a responsibility to lead the effort of rebuilding Lower Manhattan. We envision a community center for multi-faith collaboration that is focused on promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion."