Controversial Democratic platform gets a rewrite

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 5, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: I'll do that one more time. All those delegates in favor say aye.

CROWD: Aye.

VILLARAIGOSA: All those delegates opposed say no.

CROWD: No.

VILLARAIGOSA: In the opinion of the chair, two-thirds voted in the affirmative. The motion is adopted and the platform has been amended as shown on the screen.

(BOOS)

SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILL.: Well, I can just basically tell you if the narrative that is being presented on your station and through your channel and your network is that the Democrats are Godless people, they ought to know better. God is not a franchise of the Republican Party.

BRET BAIER, HOST OF "SPECIAL REPORT": So what I'm asking about the two changes, these two words, I'm just asking why. I'm not drawing conclusions.

DURBIN: I know what's going on here. It's an effort to try and justify Sheldon Adelson and the money that he's spending in the name of really standing up for Israel. The Democrats and the Republicans are committed to Israel's future and security, and I'm one of them.

BAIER: I'm just asking --

DURBIN: Present your evidence. Present your evidence.

BAIER: I'm just asking the question what was the word taken out.

DURBIN: I'm just telling you that you are harping on a trifle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Well, we asked for a statement from Senator Durbin after Democrats did just adjust that platform today in the voice vote you heard there. We haven't heard from the senator, but we will hear from the panel. Let's bring them in, Jonah Goldberg, at-large editor of National Review online, Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard. OK, Steve, it’s been quite a 24 hours.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It has been. Apparently you were not harping on a trifle like Senator Durbin said. It was a serious question. I think we still don't have an answer to it. We still don't know why the language was dropped. As Charles suggested earlier and we talked about last night, these things don't happen unless there's a reason that they happen. So there was some discussion about why this language should be dropped. There would be a change in policy. We don't know.

Taking a step back and looking at the big picture, if you have enter a political convention like this, there are some very basic rules. Don't anger the president. Don't embarrass the first lady. And don't put delegates in a position where they are booing God and Jerusalem, especially on videotape. It's bad moment for Democrats. It has to be included all of the coverage of the convention. I don't know if it’ll overshadow Bill Clinton, probably not, but it will certainly be part of the story.

BAIER: Chuck, Ed Henry confirmed the Associated Press report earlier that President Obama specifically intervened on the platform changes. We understand that the platforms don't really define a candidate per se, but, at least for this week, they are part of the story.

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: I think what we're learning here today that they don't do you a lot of good, but if you mess one up they can do you a lot harm.

I don't know why the Jerusalem thing was dropped out of this platform this year. It has been in there, boilerplate language for years. Maybe it was a mistake. I'll you this; the Republican platform is different this year on Jerusalem, too. Every Republican platform since 1996 has called for the moving of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, every single one except for this year. That's not in the Republican platform this year. Wonder why? It could be an accident, oversight, planned. But these things happen. The Republicans have had their convention have gotten away with it, the Democrats did not.

BAIER: I should add about Ed Henry's reporting, he said the president according to senior aides, his response on "God" being taken out was, quote, "Why did it change in first place?" On the Israel, the Jerusalem part, Mitt Romney was asked about that today. Let's take a quick listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I find it one more example of Israel being thrown under the bus by the president. For us at a stage like this to take action of that nature, to cease calling Jerusalem the capital of the Israel, this is a very troubling development and I think one which will be recognized for what it is by people across America and across the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: And obviously that was before the change here. Jonah, your thoughts on this whole deal?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: One thing we know about the platform, they are what the party rank and file want people to believe the party believes. Whether or not they're binding or they hold presidents accountable to believe them or anything like that is another matter.

What I thought about this, we've had a press corps, a political establishment for decades that has whined about how the things are scripted, how there are no organic natural spontaneous moments. We had one here. And just as a simple news value that is a big, big deal.

I think this is probably as someone earlier was saying unforced error. I think that President Obama, whatever he actually believes understood how incredibly stupid it was to do this, particularly on the God part. We saw they recognized it in the Durbin's childish outburst yesterday with you. They didn't have a good answer for it. He thought he could pound the table and bluster his way through.

BAIER: New York Senator Chuck Schumer was asked about all this today Steve and he said he thought that's what the Democratic position was, that Jerusalem is the capital. He said he didn't know the president's position and said you'll have to ask him. We heard earlier White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about it a few weeks ago, and he had kind of a non-answer to the question. Is there an issue on a specific point for administration?

HAYES: Well look, I think the president at some point will have to clarify yet again what the position is. You heard that Jay Carney danced around a real issue talking about it as a final status issue and not wanting to go where it seems they’ve gone. I think you could have a situation where White House is now in tension with the Democratic platform. So I think we're likely to see another clarification in the coming days.

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