Citing concerns about sources of funding, Tea Party Republican and New York Senate candidate Gary Bernsten said Thursday he strongly opposes a mosque at Ground Zero.
"This looks like a foreign effort to put something there," Berntsen told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent and "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer on "Washington Unplugged." "It will be a magnet for militants. Militants will be driven to that mosque."
"Many Muslims in the U.S., sadly, don't police their own mosques very well and that mosque will become a hot bed for trouble, right there, just footsteps away from Ground Zero," Bernsten said.
A former CIA agent, Bernsten is also the author of "Jawbreaker," a book on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda that contends Osama bin Laden could have been captured years ago if the U.S. military had devoted more resources to the operation.
Berntsen faces Republican Jay Townsend in the New York Senate primary in September; the winner will challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). While the Ground Zero mosque has become a hot-button issue in New York, Schumer has not yet commented on the situation.
Berntsen received an endorsement this week from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and said he has strong support with state and national Tea Party organizations.
Despite that Tea Party support, Berntsen concedes he will not have the money Schumer has, but plans a "massive micro fundraising" effort "just like President Obama did." Bernsten has raised $100,000 so far.
"Senator Schumer may own the airwaves, but we will own the streets," Berntsen said Thursday.
"New Yorkers are horrified at Senator Schumer's behavior, his support of people like Charlie Rangel," he continued. "If anyone saw a television last night, you saw the coverage of Charlie Rangel's birthday party fundraiser, of course a parade of corruption and arrogance. Senator Schumer was there supporting Rangel."
Schumer attended a fundraiser Wednesday for Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) who faces ethics charges.
Calling Schumer "over-exposed" and "a bully in New York," Bernsten said, "People give him money because they are afraid of him, but they wont vote for him. He will lose in November."
Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye and Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan also joined Schieffer on Thursday's "Washington Unplugged."
"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 2 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.