Politics
Los Angeles Mayor and Democratic Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa calls for a vote to amend the platform at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Los Angeles Mayor and Democratic Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa calls for a vote to amend the platform at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)  

Democratic flacks complain about God and Jerusalem fracas

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Thursday, Democratic spinners worked to explain the potentially politically damaging effort by party delegates to exclude Jerusalem and God from the party’s platform.

“The omission, despite what you want to think, was not deliberate,” said a Democratic flack when he was asked about the closed-door decision to exclude the passages.

Beside, he told reporters at a Thursday background briefing, “as soon as [President Barack Obama] learned of it, he directed … the language needed to be changed to reflect his personal views on this issue.”

To downplay the God-and-Jerusalem controversy, and to concentrate the media’s focus on the convention’s orchestrated message, the party’s spinners argued that the televised political controversy has been improperly politicized.

“Republicans are playing politics,” one political operative complained. “Israel should not be a partisan political football.”

When asked if the shouted objections showed that influential Democrats’ object to Israel having its capital in Jerusalem, one press aide argued that the floor vote protests were caused by the delegates’ surprise at the unscheduled vote. (RELATED: New Allen West ad hits Democrats for booing God [VIDEO])

“They think they are an extremely important part of the process … [and] there was a sentiment they were getting jerked around,” he said.

“I’ll be honest with you, there are some who were really perturbed at the Republicans” for making this into a political controversy, he added.

The controversy escalated on Wednesday when a number of party delegates — including delegates carrying a sign identifying themselves as Arab-Americans — loudly objected when party managers used a rare floor-vote procedure to reinsert the missing passages into the Democratic platform.

The objections caused officials to call for a floor vote three times, and provided televised evidence of an emotional split within the party.

The floor vote fracas generated bad publicity for the convention, distracted otherwise favorable media coverage and likely helped alienate some members of an important group of voters — registered Jews in swing-state Florida. (LEWIS: Not your mom and dad’s Democratic Party anymore)

They’re important because both Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney want to win that state in November.

In 2000, George W. Bush won the state by a few hundred voters — and therefore won the presidency.

The exclusion of God from the platform may also have damaged the party’s out-reach to swing-voting Catholics in the Midwest, where both parties are vying to win Ohio and Iowa.

The platform was drafted in July by progressives during a closed-door meeting in Minneapolis, Minn.

It incorporates many progressive goals, including increased spending, a redefinition of marriage to include single-sex couples, and easier immigration for low-skilled immigrants.

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