Saturday, August 30

JIMMY CARTER BANNED FROM DEMOCRATIC PODIUM

Forward - Former president Jimmy Carter's controversial views on Israel cost him a place on the podium at the Democratic Party convention in late August, senior Democratic operatives acknowledged to the Forward.

Breaking with the tradition of giving speech time to living former presidents, convention organizers honored Carter with only a short video clip highlighting his work with Hurricane Katrina victims and a brief walk across the Pepsi Center stage.

The sidelining of Carter was driven by recognition in the Obama camp and among Democratic leaders that giving the former president a prominent convention spot might alienate Jewish voters.

"What more could we do to diss Jimmy Carter?" said a Democratic official who was involved in deliberations on how to handle the former president's presence at the convention. The treatment Carter received, the official added, "reflects the bare minimum that could be done for a former president.". . .

Carter, according to party insiders, was initially scheduled to speak at the event, though organizers insisted he focus only on issues relating to domestic policy and not touch on foreign affairs. During his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston, Carter mentioned Israel, but he only touched in general terms on the need to bring peace to the region.

Jewish Democrats approved of Carter's limited presence at the convention, as they have argued that embracing the former president could tarnish the party in November.

"You can't give him a podium, because people will draw the conclusion" that the Democratic Party supports Carter's views on the Middle East, said Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York. "I wouldn't let him within 100 miles of the convention center, because it would be used by an unscrupulous Republican Party that doesn't care about the truth in character assassination against our candidate."

While Carter did come to Denver, he downplayed suggestions that he had been silenced.

In an August 26 interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carter said that the idea not to speak at the convention was his own.

Among some of Jewish delegates to the convention, however, denying Carter a speech but offering him a video tribute was not nearly sanction enough.

"He hasn't shown respect to Israel and many of the Jewish constituencies here based on the things he has done," said Nan Rich, a Florida state senator who left the hall in protest before Carter's appearance onstage.

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