Democrats in Charlotte flummoxed on God, Jerusalem

Published: Thursday, Sept. 6 2012 9:33 a.m. MDT

President Barack Obama, left, joins former President Bill Clinton, right, at the Democratic National Convention, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bill Clinton's speech to the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday shared a cluttered marquee with confusion over the party's stance on two words in the party platform: Jerusalem and God.

The 2012 platform, as adopted, stripped language from the 2008 platform referring to "god-given potential" and elsewhere an unrelated passage declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.

Israel's capital is Jerusalem, but due to unresolved tensions over the final status of Palestine, the U.S. has retained its embassy in Tel Aviv and withheld formal recognition of Jerusalem.

As Republicans sought to exploit these omissions, the party went to a floor vote on Wednesday to restore the language.

"Villaraigosa called the vote three times," ABC's Jake Tapper reported. "The first two voice votes, which require a two-thirds majority to pass, were tied between "ays" and "nos." On the third vote it was still hard to tell whether he "ays" were audibly louder than the "nays" in the half-full arena."

"When Villaraigosa announced "the ays have it," loud boos erupted across the arena," Tapper added.

Later, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schulz insisted that the process had not been controversial, a stance CNN's Anderson Cooper labeled "an alternate universe."

Later that evening, Wasserman Schulz canceled at least two interviews, Politico reported.

The controversy simmered all week. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a long-time supporter of Israel, expressed the confusion dogging the Democratic Party over its relationship with Israel on Tuesday when he could not or would not state the White House position on Israel's capital.

In an effort to shore up American Jewish support, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schulz on Monday told a group of Jewish Democratic leaders that the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. opposed Republican policy on Israel.

"As she was wrapping up her remarks," reported Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner, "she claimed that, 'We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.'"

The Israeli Embassy then issued a statement refuting the claim.

“I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel,” Oren said in an email statement Tuesday, the Jewish Daily Forward reported. “Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle.”

Pressed on the contradiction in a Fox News television interview, Wasserman Schulz flatly denied that she had made the statement.

“I didn’t say he said that,” Wasserman Schultz told Fox News. “And unfortunately, that comment was reported by a conservative newspaper. It’s not surprising they would deliberately misquote me. What I always say is that unfortunately the Republicans have made Israel a political football, which is dangerous for Israel. And Ambassador Oren has said that we can’t ever suggest that there is any daylight between the two parties on Israel because there isn’t. And that that’s harmful to Israel. That’s what I said, and that is accurate.”

Philip Klein then released the audio of her statement, which made it clear that he had, in fact, quoted her precisely.

Asked by another conservative publication Wednesday night if she would apologize to Klein, Wasserman Schulz said, "definitely not."

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