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CHARLOTTE — The second day of the Democratic National Convention began with a rare note of dissension Wednesday as a half-filled arena reopened the party platform it overwhelmingly adopted just a day earlier to address Republican criticism that the document lacked any reference to God or to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“As an ordained United Methodist minister, I am here to attest and to infirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the values that we expressed in our party’s platform,” said former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, the platform drafting committee chairman, as he offered the amendment.
“In addition, President Obama recognizes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and our party’s platform should as well,” he said.
The amendment was declared accepted by the convention committee’s chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, only after multiple voice votes that made it difficult to tell whether it was passing or failing.
The wording appeared to be designed to directly address criticism on both fronts mounted Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisconsin), Mr. Romney’s running mate. Democrats on Wednesday presented the amendment as a clarification, but, given the closeness of the voice votes, many delegates who did get to the arena before the vote was taken didn’t consider it to be a clarification.
In addition to recognizing it as the capital of Israel, the Jerusalem portion of the amendment calls for the city to remain undivided but “accessible to people of all faiths.”
“Mitt Romney has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” said Romney spokesman Andrea Saul. “Although today’s voice vote at the Democratic National Convention was unclear, the Democratic Party has acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 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,” she said.
But DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz argued that the language maintains consistency with what Mr. Obama has personally espoused and what the 2008 Democratic platform said.
“It has been the policy of both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades that Jerusalem is a final status issue to be negotiated directly between the two parties, as part of discussions to achieve a two-state solution that secures the Jewish state and homeland,” she said. “Our Party platform already expresses strong support for the peace process and makes clear the steps that any Palestinian partner must take to be a part of such a process — recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence, and adhering to existing agreements.”