DNC, God, Jerusalem party platform omissions: Democrats struggle to explain initial exclusions

(CNN) -- A co-chairman of the committee charged with drafting the Democrats' official party platform said Thursday it was "unfortunate" that references to Jerusalem and God were initially omitted from this year's document, but could not explain events that led to that exclusion.

"It was an unfortunate omission," Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," stressing that the discrepancies between this year's platform and 2008's - which did include language referring to God and Jerusalem - did not detract from President Barack Obama's core beliefs.

"We have a president of the United States who believes both in God, and we know that, but also believes in that plank" on Jerusalem, Booker said.

On Wednesday Democrats amended their platform to include language referring to God and denoting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but the amendment took three voice votes before Antonio Villaraigosa, the chairman of the Democratic National Convention, was satisfied that two-thirds of the delegates had voted in the affirmative.

Observers in the convention hall were dubious as to whether the affirmative votes outweighed those in the negative, much less reached the two-thirds vote required.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said Thursday that any voice vote among 6,000 delegates was bound to have some dissent.

"To have a small amount of objection in any essentially legislative process is sort of par for the course," she said, also on CNN's "Starting Point."

But she, like Booker, could not provide a firm explanation of how language referring to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was left out of the Democratic platform in the first place.

'It was a technical omission, and nothing more than that." Wasserman Schultz said, utilizing a term she also used Wednesday night in explaining the platform discrepancies. "There was not any -- through the drafting process and the platform committee process, there was never any discussion or debate or commentary over adding or subtracting it."

Booker said he took some responsibility for the document as a leader of the platform committee, but added that the process was never perfect.

"Sometimes, as bad as it might seem, there are imperfections," he said. "There are mistakes made."

Pressed further on how the language was left out, Booker specified that there was no one person who removed the language from 2008 declaring Jerusalem Israel's capital.

"I am the co-chair of the platform. I was in the mix," he said. "This is not somebody that changed the platform. It was an omission and unfortunate."

Wasserman Schultz said the language was added back into the platform "because President Obama personally believes that Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel, and felt that the platform needed to reflect his personal view as well as the language from the 2008 platform."

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said Thursday it "has always been the position of the Democratic Party, of the Democrats overwhelmingly, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel."

"Why it wasn't in the platform, I don't know," Schumer continued, adding that he personally brought the omission to the attention of White House staffers when it was reported on Tuesday that the language was left out.

"I didn't know," Schumer said. "I don't read, to be honest with you, the whole huge document, but I know basically what our party stands for."
 
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