Democrats split over party platform in rare display of division during convention

Charlotte, N.C.

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.

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."

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.