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Democrats change platform to add God, Jerusalem

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Embarrassed by Republicans, Democrats amended their convention platform Wednesday to add a mention of God and declare that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Many in the audience booed after the convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, ruled that the amendments had been approved despite the fact that a large group of delegates had objected. He called for a vote three times before ruling.

The party reinstated language from the 2008 platform that said "we need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.''

It also reinstated its 2008 language that Jerusalem "is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.''

Democrats had approved a platform on Tuesday that made no mention of God or Jerusalem. Instead, it expressed "unshakable commitment to Israel's security.''

Republicans pounced quickly on both omissions.

GOP officials argued that not taking a position on Jerusalem's status in the party platform showed the president was weak in his support of Israel. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said omitting God "suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of the American people.''

"I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that American's don't recognize,'' Romney said.

The Democratic Party's decision to restore the mention of Jerusalem reflected what advisers said was the president's personal view, if not the policy of his administration. The administration has long said determining Jerusalem's status was an issue that should be decided by Israelis and Palestinians in peace talks, but has been careful not to state that Jerusalem is Israel's capital.

Romney's campaign quickly sought to capitalize on the slight, but important difference.

"Mitt Romney has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,'' said Andrea Saul, Romney's spokeswoman. "President Obama has repeatedly refused to say the same himself. Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel's capital.''

The White House wouldn't say whether the change in the Democratic platform language reflected a change in administration policy.

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the reinstated party language reflected "the policy of both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades.''

Following the decision, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told reporters, "It was an effort to bring clarification.''

But the decision to amend the platform did not rest well with some delegates.

Noor Ul-Hasan, a Muslim delegate from Salt Lake City, Utah, said she felt it went against the principle of the separation of church and state.

"There are people who don't believe in God and you have to respect that as well,'' Ul-Hasan said. She also questioned whether the convention had enough of a quorum to even amend the platform. "There was no discussion. We didn't even see it coming. We were blindsided by it.''

Angela Urrea, a delegate from Roy, Utah, said she felt it was sprung on the convention without any discussion.

"The majority spoke last night,'' Urrae said, noting the platform was approved Tuesday. "We shouldn't be declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.''

Republicans declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel in the platform the party approved last week at its convention in Tampa, Fla.

 


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