September 11 and the Park 51 Mosque have become battleground issues in the finals days of the New York special election to replace disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Most Americans view the weekend of 9/11's 10th anniversary as a weekend of reflection and remembrance. For Republican Bob Turner and Democrat David Weprin, contenders in New York's 9th Congressional District race, the weekend also marks the last days before the Sept. 13 election.
To stay relevant, both men have allowed 9/11 topics to seep into to their talking points, daring to take sides in the debate over the Islamic Center being built two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center, and wading into the battle over 9/11 benefits for survivors.
Turner started the political tussle, launching a campaign ad attacking Weprin for supporting the mosque's construction. Turner went on record with Patch blogger Matthew Hampton saying, "I think that the site of this mosque is inappropriate, insensitive to the victims [and] I won't stand for it."
Weprin criticized Turner for featuring fiery images of Sept. 11 attacks in his ad, but fired back with a robo-call featuring 9/11 first responder John Feal.
"As we approach the 10th anniversary of the attacks," said Feal, "we must all remember the great sacrifices made by New York's heroes on that fateful day. Bob Turner should remember, too."
He went on to champion Weprin, a New York State Assemblyman representing Northeastern Queens, as the leading supporter of 9/11 survivors' benefits.
Using the 9/11 tragedy as a platform to reach voters in a congressional race may seem like a sacrilegious tactic. However the issue is gaining traction.
District 9 encompasses the borough Queens. "A lot of people from Queens lost people in 9/11," explained Queens Republican Frank Messano.
New York Congressman Peter King (R) said of New Yorkers' sentiment on attacks, "It's not the defining issue, but it's a big issue. It will certainly influence a number of voters."
In a tight race, it's also a way to get ahead.
A Friday Siena College poll showed Turner with a 6-point lead over Weprin. Some 50 percent of voters say they would vote for Turner if the election were today, while 44 percent said they would vote for Weprin.
Additionally, 48 percent of the voters polled said they view Turner favorably compared to 34 percent who view him unfavorably.
Voters are evenly split (41 percent to 41 percent) as to whether or not they view Weprin favorably.
Both candidates are making last ditch efforts to secure the victory on Election Day. However, both Turner and Weprin have agreed, according to Politico, to halt their campaigns on 9/11 and spend the day at memorial events.