Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
By David Jackson, USA TODAY
CHARLOTTE -- The Democrats opened the second night of their convention by adding God and Jerusalem to their platform, and awaiting the return of Bill Clinton.
Approved on a voice vote, the party platform now mentions God and declares Jerusalem as the capital of Israel -- two previous omissions that had been attacked by Republicans and other political organizations.
President Obama personally intervened on both changes, aides said, approving the statement about Jerusalem and questioning why previous language about God had been removed from the platform in the first place.
Many delegates in the half-empty hall booed the changes. The convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, had to call for a voice vote three tines before the additions were approved.
One change reinserted language from the 2008 platform: "We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."
The document now makes reference to Obama's personal views on Jerusalem.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney has hammered Obama for months over the occasionally contentious relationship it has had with Israel. Romney has also criticized Obama for not being tough enough on Iran, saying it poses a mortal threat to Israel.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the GOP candidate "has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," and Obama should be explicit as well. "Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel's capital," Saul said.
Meanwhile, the delegates at the Charlotte convention prepared for history later night: For the first time, a former president will nominate an incumbent president for a second term.
Bill Clinton's speech on behalf of President Obama -- scheduled for the nationally televised 10 p.m. -- is expected to highlight tonight's program at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
After Clinton speaks, the party will conduct the traditional roll call of states as they vote to renominate Obama. That process may not end before midnight.
Tonight's session did start on time, 5 p.m. sharp, to a half-empty hall.
The session opened just a few hours after Obama arrived in Charlotte. The president is set to address the convention Thursday night -- in the arena, not in the nearby football stadium as initially planned.
Convention planners said today they had scrapped plans for the outdoor speech because of concerns about the weather, though some Republicans suggested it was because of concern about empty seats at the stadium.
Democratic candidates and office holders spoke throughout the evening, speaking on such issues as jobs, education, and energy, and denouncing Romney's platform on those issues.
The convention also devoted portions of their program to specific constituencies, including women, African-Americans, Hispanics, young people, and union members.