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. True Colors

    Yeah they just showed how a house divided will fall, one thing is for sure GOP's all agreed on last weeks republican platform. How stupid are these liberal wasteoids? One more nail for Obama's coffin, and he will try to talk his way out of it, but his party just lost a few million voters who actually do believe in God.

    September 5, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  2. albert

    Chaos? Did they post the wrong video? What chaos?

    September 5, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  3. zoiogrande

    boy, that was funny! 😉

    September 5, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. g

    mitt left out his gods and planets

    September 5, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  5. Georgia

    Tell us again how much more the Democats are united as opposed to the Republicans.

    September 5, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  6. Mara

    Seriously?!? I cannot believe the ignorance of the comments posted on here...

    Our forefathers called for the seperation of church and state, something Republicans and Democrats USED TO stand for.

    Now- if we don't say "God" we're Anti-American?
    That's disgusting, do NOT force me to believe in your God!
    What happened to freedom of religion?
    Where do athiests/agnostics fit in?

    I think they should have left "God" out just to prove a point.

    Screw both democrats and republicans... I'm for the SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
    Give me a candidate that will stick to our Consitution...

    September 5, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  7. john

    okay – bad writing, you make it sound like there was a majority for the Ayes. That's just not true, "loud chorus of ayes" vs "some nays" makes it sound like a 60-40 issue. it was 50/50, easily.

    September 5, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  8. Fox Geek

    The party is full of anti-God, anti-Israel, anti-Americans. They only did what they believe to begin with.

    September 5, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  9. Kel(former Marine)

    It is a proven fact that O'Bama has never been nor will ever be a friend to Israel. Think how he treated Netanyahu while he was a guest at the White House. Also where was our president on the anniversary of D-Day. He was in Calif on a fund raiser. Wake up America and see the kind of man he truly is. Semper Fi

    September 5, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  10. Kay

    Including the Jerusalem reference was about as pointless as China declaring that Washington, D.C. is the official capital of the United States. But thinking that such a statement is meaningless doesn't mean that one is anti-Israel...just that it isn't up to the US to determine the capital of another country!

    And God? For crying out loud, they merely added the phrase"God-given potential". Talk about superficial. The world had not come to an end when the word "God" was left out...and all our problems are not going to be fixed by including it.

    Faith is...and should be...a deeply personal thing. And frankly, I doubt very much that God gave two hoots about the issue one way or the other.

    September 5, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  11. manhandler

    I'm a Dem. I'm against Israel...I'm against Israel taking our money and using our defense and thumbing their noses at us. I'm against Israel's oppression of the Palestinians and their barbaric treatment thereof. I'm against Israel expecting us to handle Iran while they criticize our Government. The Dems platform is a platform of the century we're in. The Repub platform is from a century long past. Repugs have always used the word God to dupe religious fools in voting against their best interests. Tell us what your hero, Ayn Rand thinks about religion, Ryan. Don't want to mention it?

    September 5, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  12. Bradley Legg

    Democrats can't get God right in the platform, and they do not support the nation of Israel as shown by the way the President has treated its leaders and its enemies.

    September 5, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. Franko

    As the world gets to know Tony Villaraigosa, everyone can begin to enjoy him as the incompetent, skirt chasing, mostly missing, baffone, who cannot say "hello" without teleprompter assistance.

    We, in and near Los Angeles, have been stunned at his rise to power, propelled only by popular last name. An empty suit lends him too much credit. Tony's biggest fear, a open debate, a close second the dreaded press conference.

    Good Luck

    September 5, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  14. Andrew

    I don't think the cause of the "NO" votes was Israel, it was the "GOD" part. The GOP is the religious party, and the Democratic party (at least tries to be) is the party of free-thinkers.

    As a Democrat, an Atheist and of Jewish ancestry and culture (just not belief) I support Israel, consider Jerusalem the true capital, and am in favor of striking all religious references from not only the platform, but also the silly Eisenhower additions of "In God We Trust" on the money and "Under God" from the pledge.

    September 5, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  15. Phuong Malkin

    I do not see any different between the aye and No . I think they are equal in number.

    September 5, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  16. g

    i don,t think the founding fathers, say any thing about Isreal being the masters of america please tell the republicans

    September 5, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  17. Inez Hofner

    What I observed was not so much about whether to put God and Jerusalem back in the platform, and more about flagrantly ignoring the voices of those souls who were against that vote. Apparently, only the voice of those who agreed with the proposal counted.

    September 5, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  18. ObamaUntil2016

    This will last on the radar for about 15 minutes.

    September 5, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  19. TAK

    Historically, Dem conventions are far more entertaining than the lock-step Rep conventions. Although seeing an aged Clint Eastwood get out-acted by an empty chair was a rather unique occurence.

    September 5, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. ObamaUntil2016

    The fact is, this is a non-issue. This time tomorrow, no one will even remember this story.

    September 5, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  21. nmdave

    The only reason it was changed was the push back that took place and the polling showing how unpopular the original version was. That just shows the kind of real leadership that is lacking in the democratic party. It never should have been changed. Talk about flip flop!!!

    September 5, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  22. larry5

    The buses that were scheduled to bring in the audience for Obama were cancelled. They could not fill them. The bus company was being paid by head count so that's the end of that.

    September 5, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  23. MJ

    Now, are the Democrats going to say we didn't hear what we heard ? ... They don't want God as part of their lives, period.

    September 5, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  24. Chuckles

    When I laughed duing Clint's monologue last week, I thought that was the first and last time I would laugh while watching a nomination convention. I was just proven wrong.

    September 5, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  25. rob

    First, the Dems looked FOOLISH by taking the word G*D and Jerusalem out in the first place. Second, after reading the polls and seeing the reaction, they decided to slam it back in making them look even more foolish. The reaction from the nays in the audience was probably more a show of disapointment because of the obvious CAVE by the platform committee. Either way, the wheels are coming off of the Dems right in front of our eyes.

    Nov. 6 can't come fast enough.

    Romney/Ryan 2012

    September 5, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
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