Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issue the following statement through a spokesman this afternoon:

“The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Senator Reid respects that, but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else.”

“If the Republicans are being sincere, they would help us pass this long overdue bill to help the first responders whose health and livelihoods have been devastated because of their bravery on 911, rather than continuing to block this much-needed legislation.”

This is an interesting development, since the Senate majority leader is:

1) Not from New York – continuing a growing trend of politicians from outside the state weighing in on this issue, which was officially nationalized by President Obama last Friday;

2) Fighting a tough battle to maintain his Nevada seat, facing off against a strong Tea Party-backed challenger, Sharon Angle.

3) Close to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the third most powerful Democrat in the Senate, who has yet to personally discuss the mosque, saying rather tersely through a spokesman that he is “not opposed” to the project.

Schumer is widely viewed as gunning for Reid’s majority leader post, should Reid lose this fall.