DENVER–The Democratic National Convention hit a rough patch Wednesday as party leaders scrambled to reinsert language recognizing God and Jerusalem into the platform over the objections of some delegates.
The chair of the party’s platform committee hurriedly proposed two amendments at the start of business Wednesday at the Time Warner Center Arena in Charlotte, N.C., after Republicans seized on the removal of references to God and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Both references were included in the Democratic Party’s 2008 platform.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that the two amendments required a two-thirds vote of the delegation for passage. He asked delegates to vote “aye” or “no,” and was clearly stumped after two voice votes found the delegation at least evenly divided, if not leaning against the proposals.
Finally, after a third vote failed to produce a clear two-thirds majority, he declared that, “In the opinion of the chair, two-thirds have voted in the affirmative. The motion is adopted, and the platform is amended as shown on the screen.”
Some delegates reacted angrily by booing and shaking their fists, according to televised broadcasts of the proceedings.
The episode exposed tensions within the Democratic Party over Israel and its relationship with the Palestinian people, who oppose recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The skirmish also created a public-relations headache at what was supposed to be a tightly scripted showcase for President Obama.
The move to amend the platform came after GOP officials blasted Democrats for the changes and called into question the president’s support for Israel.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Tuesday it was “unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”
“Four years of President Obama’s repeated attempts to create distance between the United States and our cherished ally have led the Democratic Party to remove from their platform an unequivocal acknowledgment of a simple reality,” Romney said in a statement. “As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally.”
The Democratic platform released Monday was missing a clause from the 2008 platform that said, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” The document did say that the parties “have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations.”
Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CNN-TV that the omissions were “essentially a technical oversight.”
Democrats also reinserted a line in the platform from 2008 saying that Americans should have the opportunity to “make the most of their God-given potential.” The original version of the 2012 platform said instead that “hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.”