September 5th, 2012
05:38 PM ET
10 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. Bootstomper

    Obama landslide 2012! Sorry Clint ,Mitt, Paul it's over.

    September 5, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  2. obamaliar

    here the Dems go again, disavowing Isreal

    September 5, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. ken

    They still left out important parts concerning Israel as a major partener in the Middle East. No sincerity in this addition. Just more pandering to reverse a negative poll.

    September 5, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I am sorry for the confusion because republican candidates now will use this like they dont make any.

    September 5, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. Mm

    Oh, create a story where there is none, CNN, why don't you....

    Better story....Bain Capital/Romney are being investigated for tax evasion.

    September 5, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. Phuong Malkin

    I think this sudden change is caused by some kind of polling . This will cause disenchantment and hard feeling among the convention attendees.

    September 5, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  7. mcp123

    "Either way, the wheels are coming off of the Dems right in front of our eyes."

    Heh ... thats your perception. Even people within a single party can disagree on particular issues... or they can remake themselves like Romney has tried to do. He used to be pro-choice...he used to support gun control for extremely lethal assault weapons but he has caved to the right wing.

    September 5, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. Rob Jones

    Hahahahahah! This is a hot mess! I love it! If Bill can manage to "slip up" again in his speech and shiv Obama again that would be wonderful. Clinton's revenge? Why not, Obama is toast.

    September 5, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. TheTruth

    So the Dems don't like Christians and they don't like Isreal – seems that they have a fundamental misunderstanding of both God and how Americans feel about Him.

    September 5, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Why is it that you can't watch the news anymore without them trying to create a story. Its reason why CNN is losing rating.

    September 5, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  11. Ed1

    Again the Democrats show their true colors and by the way the investigation of Bain Capital are the years way after Romney was gone good try but as always you need to know what you are talking and like most Democrats you don't.

    The circus is in town didn't know it was going to stop in Charlotte wait it's just the DNC same thing though.

    Bet you are proud to be a Democrat and Obama supporter.

    September 5, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |

    I always knew democrats were predominantly closet atheists, but I NEVER thought I'd see the day when they exposed themselves as anti-Semitic!!!


    September 5, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. Miker

    Faith shouldn't be centralized in a physical place of worship. It belongs to all that has it in the bottom of their hearts.

    September 5, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. Mr. Peeta

    Well now, Look at CNN getting all real journalism chomps again! Kudos for reporting ALL the stories

    September 5, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  15. Demigod Vadik, CA

    ...ohh big deal...

    ...who cares....

    September 5, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. John P. Tarver

    I think Obama's disdain for God and Jerusalem are hallmarks of his first term. This attempt to include God in the Democratic Platform is poorly considered.

    September 5, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  17. liberal disease


    September 5, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. Hugh

    Two votes lost for Obama in Missouri...

    September 5, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    I think it's funny. The democrats are falling apart in their own house & boo their own people? This is good for the Pubs & the public! Let them implode away.........

    September 5, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  20. john doe

    And this is a surprise? Hasn't anyone ever watched them in Congress?

    September 5, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  21. mb72463

    That was not 2/3rds yes....closer to 50/50... the dems have been taken over by allah and his terrorist freinds

    September 5, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  22. Dog

    Who cares about Israel? I'm more concerned with the official aknowledgement of a fabricated man in the sky.

    September 5, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
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