September 5th, 2012
05:38 PM ET
2 years ago

Convention floor chaos: Democrats alter platform, disagree

Charlotte, North Carolina(CNN) – In a rare display of just how quickly a tightly scripted national political convention can unwind, Democrats on Wednesday struggled to complete a voice vote amending their party platform to include language referring to Jerusalem and God.

It took three attempts from Democratic National Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa before the platform was amended, and a loud chorus of delegates yelling "no" met each attempt to pass the changes by voice vote.

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Observers were dubious - at best - as to whether the affirmative votes outweighed those in the negative, much less reached the two-thirds vote required. Regardless, the chairman ruled in favor of the amendments.

The change was proposed by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland immediately after the convention was gaveled into order on Wednesday.

"I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the values we've expressed in our party's platform," Strickland, who chaired the party's platform committee, read. "In addition, President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party's platform should as well."

With the language read before the delegates, Villaraigosa asked if there was any further discussion. His question was met with silence.

The Los Angeles mayor moved then to the voice vote.

"All those delegates in favor say aye," Villaraigosa said. A loud chorus of "ayes" ensued.

"All those delegates opposed say no," he continued. Loud "nos" came from some of the delegates.

Villaraigosa initially began moving forward in the proceedings, but stopped himself to re-take the voice vote.

"Let me do that again," he said. "All of those delegates in favor say aye."

Again a loud chorus of "ayes" reverberated in the convention hall.

"All those delegates opposed say no," he said to a wave of "nos."

At this point, Villaraigosa appeared confused. A woman emerged on stage, and the podium microphone captured her saying "they're going to do what they're going to do."

Trying for a third time, Villaraigosa said "I'll do that one more time."

With similar-sounding amounts of "yeas" and "nos" coming from the crowd, Villaraigosa declared, "In the opinion of the chair, two-thirds have voted, the motion is adopted and the platform has been amended as shown on the screen."

In an interview with CNN White House Correspondent Brianna Keiler several hours after the vote, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the omission "a technical oversight."

She then claimed of the vote, "There wasn't any discord."

"Mayor Villaraigosa, as he presided - in order to amend the platform, it takes a two-thirds vote," she said, although there was audible dissention as the vote was taken. She said further that the vote was "absolutely two thirds."

Fred Hoffman, a delegate from Dearborn, Michigan, said the vote went too quickly and the amendments were not explained well enough before the convention moved to a vote.

"I think a lot of people viewed them as clean-up amendments - things they just forgot as they were putting stuff together - and they said, 'OK, we need to put these back in,'" Hoffman said.

Jamana Judeh, a second Michigan delegate, said she was happy yesterday when she heard that the Jerusalem issue had been taken out of the platform.

"Everybody feels good, that finally, maybe, the party is acknowledging us," Judeh said, referring to the 55-member Arab American delegation at the convention.

While Judeh was not on the floor for the vote at the time, she said she would have yelled "no" if she were present.

"I would have yelled and screamed and said no. That's wrong. There's absolutely no reason for it," she said.

Kalimah Salahuddin, a 36-year-old delegate from Pacifica, California, said she voted against it because she felt like it needed further discussion.

"I was actually pretty surprised. I thought I was going to be the only one in saying no in California," she said.

She, like many, said it was too difficult to tell if there really was a two-thirds vote.

"I just don't know if it was two-thirds people or two-thirds louder" on the third vote, she said.

The flap, according to Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Paul Begala, was "embarrassing, stupid" and "an unforced error by my party." Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary in the George W. Bush administration who also is a CNN contributor, said the issue reflected a split among Democrats over support for Israel.

Jim Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, wrote in a statement that he was "disappointed in the irregularities of the procedure."

"This effort hurts the president and it hurts chances for a lasting peace," Zogby continued. "I am, however, proud that so many delegates delivered a resounding no."


Filed under: 2012 • Democratic National Convention • Israel
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. obama victim

    well...a lot of Dems are anti-Jewish and un-Godly people...so this seems about right

    September 5, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. Ta111

    Wow. What a cluster. Theses dems are out of control. The majority are against God and Israel.

    September 5, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. DJ

    Wow. The delegates in general are opposed to Israel and opposed to God. How far have we fallen if we allow them to be re-elected

    September 5, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. proud conservative

    I'm surprised any of these Jew hating atheists voted "yea."

    September 5, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  5. crush

    Some people just want to keep religion out of politics. Sounds like the majority of dems in this case, but their voices didn't matter. Fox new wins. Get ready for the gloat.

    September 5, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  6. DeeCee10000

    I thought theocracies were only popular with the GOP and the Taliban. Who the f%$k is running the Dem platform? Hey, here's one way to scare off voters under 50 yrs: act like your religious belief should be forced on everybody else.

    September 5, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  7. lisasc

    This was a big mistake and is bound to become a campaign issue. Mayor Vilarigosa sure looked stunned when he heard the nays

    September 5, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." --B. Obama

    And the democratic freak show continues.

    September 5, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. nobama

    Democratic democracy at it's finest. I think the chair recognized all of the dead people that vote in Chicago every election.

    September 5, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  10. DeeCee10000

    Villaraigosa, I'd say it's time you start looking for a hearing aid. Don't feel bad, I hear it's not that uncommon for old geezers to lose their hearing.

    September 5, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  11. Silence DoGood

    @Ta111 "Theses dems are out of control."

    The founding fathers would be proud. They didn't like being controlled either. Disagreement and discussion is a good thing. Be very worried if the group you are in all saying "yes" or "no" together.

    September 5, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  12. Danile6

    "No mas Pantalones" eh Dems

    September 5, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Anti-Semitism is alive and well in the Democratic Party.

    September 5, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. Obama2012

    To: Obama Victim and Ta111....anti-God? really? Whose God are you talking about and which version? Obviously your talking about YOUR version of God. One that doesn't recognize the division of religion and state.
    And recognizing another nation-state in one's platform? Really? Who said if they didn't do it, that they are anti-Israel. We should not be either pro or against nonetheless state such in a party platform. You show your colors of right wing fanaticism. If you want a Taliban like country, please leave and go to Afghanistan.

    September 5, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. maf

    Wonder what Carville will say about this cluster**** tonight!!
    Right after the speech about Dems having a "backbone", they cave to the religious zealots of the NEW Republican Party.
    Maybe they can "walk back" this hasty decision and deal with the fallout that was starting to appear as a good thing for the Dems last night!! YIKES, what a way to ruin momentum.

    September 5, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. DENNA

    @obama victim – well...a lot of Dems are anti-Jewish and un-Godly people...so this seems about right
    --------------------------------------------------–
    Huh! You have a lot of nerve. The GOP Convention was almost all white. The Democratic Convention looked like America. By the way, where was George Bush at the GOP convention? After all our economy was a GOP gift to President Obama. We need to see George to thank him.

    September 5, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  17. RandyIA

    Do you think any of those no's will switch parties, probably not. I guess rank and file members from both parties are cool aid drinking sheep. Just goes to show that the party leaders on both sides don't care about the voters, just the votes.

    September 5, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  18. Ryan

    I'm an agnostic American and registered Democrat, who does not believe in the illegal rogue state of Israel. Why do we have to adopt such unnecessary measures and impossible evil into our party's platform? The chairman should be ashamed.

    September 5, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  19. RJ A

    We live in a secular society. These parties aren't running people to be priests or rabbis, there is no need for god to be mentioned in either parties platform. The first amendment guarantees both freedom of and freedom from religion.

    September 5, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  20. OnceGreatNation

    Atheist, anti-semite, free loaders! Now plant your campaign flag around that BS Obama! What a joke the DNC is, lets ensure they dont continue to make a mockery of our country. Vote their azzes out Nov 6!

    September 5, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  21. jiutfvnkug

    when did you realize you were a jew

    September 5, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  22. Ali Esaa

    Both parties are competing to please Israel. Is this American election?. What about the right of Palestinians?

    September 5, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  23. MTATL67

    It does not matter if God is in the platform or not. My word the Republicans have God in their platform what over 10 times and they are the most exclusive racist far right extremists since the 20's when the KKK had over 4 million member. Their un-Godly/un-Christian actions mean more than the number of times they have the word God in their platform. In fact the more they profess to love and believe in God great the chances are they don’t practice what they preach.

    September 5, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  24. Mike

    Regardless of what side of spectrum you are on, it doesn't take a genius to know this is going to bite Dems this election on PR.

    September 5, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  25. Concerned in Cleveland

    The Democratic Pary has already shown it's true colors. It is too late to try to hide it by reversing their decision.

    September 5, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
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