The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Politics

September 5, 2012

Dems change platform to add God, Jerusalem

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Needled by Mitt Romney and other Republicans, Democrats hurriedly rewrote their convention platform Wednesday to add a mention of God and declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel after President Barack Obama intervened to order the changes.

The embarrassing reversal was compounded by chaos and uncertainty on the convention floor. Three times Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the convention chairman, called for a voice vote on the changes and each time the yes and no votes seemed to balance each other out. On the third attempt, Villaraigosa ruled the amendments were approved — triggering boos from many in the audience.

The episode exposed tensions on Israel within the party, put Democrats on the defensive and created a public relations spectacle as Obama arrived in the convention city to claim his party's nomination for a second term.

"There was no discussion. We didn't even see it coming. We were blindsided by it," said Noor Ul-Hasan, a Muslim delegate from Salt Lake City, who questioned whether the convention had enough of a quorum to even amend the platform.

"The majority spoke last night," said Angela Urrea, a delegate from Roy, Utah. "We shouldn't be declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."

The language in the platform — a political document — does not affect actual U.S. policy toward Israel. The administration has long said that determining Jerusalem's status is an issue that should be decided in peace talks by Israelis and Palestinians.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, welcomed the support of Democrats and Republicans alike on Israel. "Together, these party platforms reflect strong bipartisan support for the US-Israel relationship," AIPAC said.

Obama intervened directly to get the language changed both on Jerusalem and to reinstate God in the platform, according to campaign officials who insisted on anonymity to describe behind-the-scenes party negotiations. They said Obama's reaction to the omission of God from the platform was to wonder why it was removed in the first place.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the party chairman, said both the God and Jerusalem omissions were "essentially a technical oversight." She insisted in a CNN interview there had been no discord on the floor and said the vote definitely met the two-thirds threshold.

The revisions came as Obama struggles to win support from white working-class voters, many of whom have strong religious beliefs, and as Republicans try to woo Jewish voters and contributors away from the Democratic Party. Republicans claimed the platform omissions suggested Obama was weak in his defense of Israel and out of touch with mainstream Americans.

GOP officials argued that not taking a position on Jerusalem's status in the party platform raised questions about Obama's support for the Mideast ally. Romney said omitting God "suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of the American people."

"I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don't recognize," Romney said.

Added to the Democratic platform was a declaration that Jerusalem "is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."

That language was included in the platform four years ago when Obama ran for his first term, but was left out when Democrats on Tuesday approved their 2012 platform, which referred only to the nation's "unshakable commitment to Israel's security."

Also restored from the 2008 platform was language calling for a government that "gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."

For decades, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have said it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to settle Jerusalem's final status — a position reiterated earlier Wednesday by the White House. Both sides claim Jerusalem as their capital, and the city's status has long been among the thorniest issues in Mideast peace talks.

The U.S. has its embassy in Tel Aviv, although numerous Republicans — including Mitt Romney — have vowed to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama referred to Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a speech to AIPAC. But as official policy, his administration has repeatedly maintained that Jerusalem's status is an issue that Israelis and Palestinians should decide in peace talks. The platform flub gave Republicans an opening to revive their attacks on Obama's support for Israel just as Democrats were hoping to bask in the glow of first lady Michelle Obama's Tuesday speech and gin up excitement for her husband, who will accept his party's nomination for a second term on Thursday.

But restoring the language did not placate Republicans, who used it to suggest that Obama's party is now more supportive than he is of the Jewish state.

"Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel's capital," said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

Republicans declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel in the platform the party approved last week at its convention in Tampa, Fla. GOP platforms in 2004 and 2008 also called Jerusalem the capital.

___

Lederman reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in Utah, Bradley Klapper in Washington, and Ken Thomas, Ben Feller and Matthew Daly in Charlotte contributed.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

1
Text Only
Politics
  • Political news from April 18, 2014

    8th District candidate forum set for April 24

    April 18, 2014

  • Obama, victims’ families overcome by gun owners

    WASHINGTON — Four months ago, President Barack Obama promised a grieving nation he would do everything in his power to change gun laws after 26 students and staff were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Turns out his power and the impassioned pleas of devastated families were no match for the force of gun rights advocates in Congress and across the nation.

    April 18, 2013

  • Rep. Kelly calls canceling of tours ‘Obama drama’

    The White House announced Tuesday it was canceling tours of the executive mansion because of budget cuts, a move that Mercer County’s congressman called more “Obama drama.”

    March 7, 2013

  • Lawmakers weigh in on drilling tax, state funding

    Mercer County’s state lawmakers offered up their opinions Friday on everything from what ought to be done to improve funding for public education, to how to get the most tax revenue from the soon-to-be booming oil and gas drilling industry, to changing the way the state counts electoral votes.

    January 26, 2013

  • Kelly wins re-election

    U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly looks like the winner in the Third District House race. With 83 percent of the vote in, Kelly, the incumbent Republican, was leading his Democratic challenger Missa Eaton, of Sharon, by 11 percent, or about 30,000 votes. Independent candidate Steven Porter garnered about 4 percent of the vote.

     

    November 6, 2012

  • Three for the third

    The race for Pennsylvania’s Third District congressional seat pits incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly against Democrat Missa Eaton and independent candidate Steven Porter, three candidates who offer voters a stark choice on Tuesday.

    November 4, 2012

  • Eaton sees a role for government

    Missa Eaton says she wants to be an advocate for the Third District and a voice of moderation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
    As the Sharon Democrat sees it, that’s what the people of northwestern Pennsylvania need and haven’t been getting from the man she hopes to defeat at the polls Tuesday, Republican incumbent Mike Kelly.

    November 4, 2012

  • Kelly wants voters to send him back

    U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly likens his re-election campaign to selling cars, the business he’s been in his entire adult life.
    “The first time you sell somebody a car, it’s usually on price. The next time they come back to see you it’s if you serviced them in the right way,” Kelly said in a recent interview.

    November 4, 2012

  • Porter’s campaign isn’t about winning

    Steven Porter has no illusions about his chances in Tuesday’s election.
    “I’m not a long shot. I’m a zero. I have no chance of winning because the public has no chance of hearing me or absorbing me,” Porter said in a recent interview.

    November 4, 2012

  • 1342516_29565745.jpg Nonvoters are trying to tell us something

    There's one electoral bloc that both parties can vilify at their leisure: those U.S. citizens who refuse to vote.

    October 28, 2012 1 Photo

  • Congressional candidates debate jobs, other issues

    The three candidates vying for the Third District seat in Congress met Wednesday in Erie for the only debate of the campaign.

    October 25, 2012

  • All night long: Biden, Ryan at each other on everything

    At odds early and often, Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan squabbled over the economy, taxes, Medicare and more Thursday night in a contentious, interruption-filled debate. "That is a bunch of malarkey," the vice president retorted after a particularly tough Ryan attack on the administration's foreign policy.

    October 12, 2012

  • 1012debate_404.jpg Thousands watch vice presidential debate on KY college campus

    Despite temperatures dropping into the mid 40s, and the non-stop shouts of an abortion protestor who scaled a tree before the debate began, the crowd on Centre College's campus stayed engaged, attentively watching the lively debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican congressman Paul Ryan. 

    October 12, 2012 3 Photos

  • 1012debate_509.jpg Spin predictable following veep debate

    An aggressive, self-assured Democratic Vice President Joe Biden responded to last week’s poor debate performance by President Barack Obama by repeatedly challenging Republican challenger Paul Ryan on taxes, plans to cut entitlement and on foreign policy.

    October 12, 2012 4 Photos

  • Biden-Ryan.jpg VIDEO: Biden to Ryan: 'That's a bunch of malarkey'

    Republican Paul Ryan says the attack in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens shows the U.S. is projecting weakness abroad. Vice President Joe Biden responded that's 'a bunch of malarkey.'

    October 12, 2012 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter