Villaraigosa says platform changes came from the president
Hours before his own scheduled address to the Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was offering behind-the-scenes explanations on the dust-up that broke out over his party's 2012 platform.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Villaraigosa said Thursday that President Obama had personally ordered the changes to the platform, adding language that invokes God and affirms the role of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. A day earlier, those changes had put Villaraigosa center stage during a trio of awkward, and contentious, televised platform votes.
"The president of the United States wanted a platform that reflected his values," the mayor said.
Villaraigosa momentarily appeared flummoxed Wednesday as he attempted to secure the changes, with delegates in the arena offering both loud “ayes” and “nos.” After the third voice vote, the mayor -- acting as the convention's chairman -- declared that the amendments had passed by a two-thirds vote, even though delegates had shouted out a significant number of "nos."
Villaraigosa's announcement drew boos from the crowd. And on Thursday, he received some ribbing from "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough, who welcomed the mayor to the program with the words: “The dude needs a hearing aide.”
“That was not two thirds of the people,” Scarborough told the mayor, laughing. "They set you up, man. They set you up."
Villaraigosa defended his handling of the votes, saying he wanted to make sure “every voice" was heard. “What you saw up there was a man who was willing to make a decision,” he said. “I used to be the speaker of the California State Assembly.”
Allan Hoffenblum, a former GOP political consultant, said the president's instructions had placed the mayor in "an untenable position." "Poor Antonio was stuck with the job of having to follow through on the orders from on top," he said.
Still, Hoffenblum predicted the incident would do little lasting harm to the mayor. “They weren’t booing him. They were booing having to change the platform," said Hoffenblum, who publishes the California Target Book, which analyzes state and national political races.
-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall
Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Democratic National Convention. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times