CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa defended his performance during a platform kerfuffle at the Democratic National Convention this week, saying that he took the actions called for by President Obama and followed procedure when Democrats realized they had left the words “God” and “Jerusalem” out of the party platform.
Such a change requires a two-thirds vote by delegates, and on Wednesday they were asked to approve language invoking God and affirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Villaraigosa, the convention chairman, called for a voice vote three times before declaring the amendments approved. Some delegates and journalists on the convention floor at the Time Warner Cable Arena were adamant that one could not audibly be certain they heard two-thirds of the delegates present say “aye.”
“It was a lot of ado about nothing,” the mayor said Friday. Villaraigosa said that when reporters told him after the vote that they did not clearly hear two-thirds support, he responded, “That’s nice to know. I was the chairman and I did, and that was the prerogative of the chair.”
Villaraigosa noted that any delegate who objected to the process could have made a formal challenge within 10 minutes of the vote.
“Not one person objected. It’s more a media concern than a delegate concern. I can tell you this — the president of the United States said, ‘Wow.’ The president said, ‘You showed why you were speaker of the California Assembly,’” Villaraigosa said. “The president, the vice president, Mrs. Obama, all of them acknowledged the decisive way I handled that.”
Republicans had pounced on the omissions from the platform. They said the failure to mention God showed that Democrats were out of step with the American people, and the omission of Jerusalem raised questions about the administration’s commitment to Israel.
Villaraigosa, in his remarks Friday, added that Obama wanted a platform that reflected his views on God and Israel’s capital, while Republicans adopted a platform that contains a notable provision — forbidding abortion in cases of rape and incest — that their nominee, Mitt Romney, does not believe in.
“The president of the United States and the leader of my party asked me to do this, and so I’m proud I have a president who believes God and Jerusalem should be in the platform, and so do I,” Villaraigosa said.
Overall, Villaraigosa declared the convention a great success.
“I’ve had individual after individual come up to me who have gone to multiple conventions saying this was the best convention ever,” he said. “The messaging was so consistent and strong … and things went smoothly.”