Sarah Palin's "not a racist, just for the record" said Bloomberg at a press conference on Monday, commenting on a City Hall aide's Tweets criticizing Palin's opposition of the proposed Mosque at Ground Zero. However, he did defend his aide's right to her opinion.
On Sunday Palin tweeted: "Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real."
"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing," she added an hour later.
One of Bloomberg's aides, Andrea Batista Schlesinger, responded "@SarahPalinUSA whose hearts? Racist hearts?"
For a moment during the press conference, it sounded like Bloomberg agreed with the aide; when a reporter asked him about the aide's tweet, 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."