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Parties Duel Over 'God,' Jerusalem Re-insertions in Platform Parties Duel Over 'God,' Jerusalem Re-insertions in Platform

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Conventions 2012

Parties Duel Over 'God,' Jerusalem Re-insertions in Platform

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Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, Democratic Convention Chair,(Chet Susslin)

After acting to re-insert language to their platform that mentions both God and that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, Democrats found themselves on the defensive Thursday against Republican attacks over the moves.

Republicans pointed reporters to discord within the Democratic Party over the fight, accusing the Obama administration of waffling over the Jerusalem-as-capital issue.

 

"The questions over the Democrat platform haven’t stopped this morning and are overtaking any message [former President Bill] Clinton had last night," the Republican National Committee said in an email.

The chairman of the convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said on CNN Thursday that the omissions were a mistake. “The notion we wouldn’t have God and Jerusalem in our platform boggles my mind," he said. "I can’t defend that.”

He and other Democrats said they did not know how the language was omitted.

 

Israel's government maintains that its capital is Jerusalem, but the United States and other nations maintain embassies in Tel Aviv because East Jerusalem is contested by the Palestinians, who regard it as a potential capital for their state.

A chaotic meeting at the convention on Wednesday -- presided over by Villaraigosa -- led to boos from delegates over changes that inserted the Jersusalem and God language back into the platform. In 2008, the party platform declared: "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel."

Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, said on Fox News that President Obama had not been aware of the omissions, but acted upon hearing about it.

"He hadn’t read it, and when he found out about these two things – they were under any circumstances... a mistake -- and he said, 'We’ve gotta fix it.' And he directed his staff to go and fix that yesterday." On Wednesday, Politico reported that Obama had been aware of the omissions.

 

As far as the 'God' omission goes, Cutter acknowledged it was a mistake, but said: "On the issue of God, faith is woven throughout that entire document. So make no mistake that there are lots of God-fearing people and God-loving people in this arena.”

Appearing on CNN Thursday, an embattled Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to dismiss the exclusion of Jerusalem as a “technical omission.”

“Through the drafting process and the platform committee process, there was never any discussion or debate or commentary over adding or subtracting it,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Wasserman Schultz refuted the allegation that the wording was changed in response to backlash from the media and within the party, and said she supported the original platform as well as the second.

“On Tuesday, we adopted a 100 percent pro-Israel platform that I was so proud to support,” she said.

Both Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., sought to contain any damage from the flap. “Look, the big story last night is that President Clinton set the table for President Obama today,” Van Hollen said on MSNBC.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said he was blindsided by the original language relating to Jerusalem, but commended President Obama for acting to put it back in.

“I didn’t know it wasn’t in,” Schumer, one of the Democratic Party's most prominent Jewish members, said on CNN’s Starting Point, “I don’t read the whole huge document.” He added, more than once for emphasis: “But it was the president who intervened and fixed it.”

When asked if the omission seemed like an intentional act that should have been caught, Schumer replied: “Perhaps,” but added that bigger “existential threats” to Israel, like Iran and Hezbollah, were of more concern. Said Schumer of Obama, “He’s been tougher on Iran than anyone.”

Republicans aren't just clucking their tongues at Democrats, they're cutting television ads. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., released a one-minute spot Thursday highlighting the floor fight, with the text, "Three times they said no to God." The ad ends with an attempt to link the fight to his opponent: "That's Patrick Murphy's party."

 

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