President Barack Obama stepped forcefully into the debate over the "Ground Zero mosque" Friday with an impassioned defense of freedom of religion. One Republican senator says the president has now made this an election issue.

Sen. John Cornyn told Fox News' Bret Baier that voters would "render their verdict" in November.

"With emotions so high on the issue do you think this becomes an election issue 79 days to go before the mid terms?" asked Baier. "Will you be telling your candidates to make sure what the Democratic opponents how they stand on the particular issue?"

"I think it does speak to the lack of connection between the administration and Washington and folks inside the Beltway and mainstream America, and I think this is what aggravates people so much," answered Cornyn. "I agree with [Sen. Jack Reed], this is going to be a local decision. I would like to hear what the elected officials in New York, the two United States senators and other local officials think about this and the American people will render their verdict."

"So yes, it becomes an election issue?" prompted Baier.

"Whether you are connected to people or listening or lecturing to them, this is sort of the dichotomy that people sense that they are being lectured to and not listened to and that is why people are upset about Washington and to that extent, yes," said Cornyn.

This video is from Fox's Fox News Sunday, broadcast Aug. 15, 2010.

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