AP News
Posted: Sep 05, 2012 10:17 PM

For all the talk of how scripted and controlled political conventions have become these days, it's still surprising just how messy — and revealing — they can occasionally be.

Wednesday was a prime example.

First, the Democrats announced they would scrap plans to have President Barack Obama give the week's big Thursday night speech at Charlotte's open-air football stadium. They had insisted all week that rain would not deter him, but then apparently got cold (wet) feet at the prospect of busing in tens of thousands of volunteers to face rain and lightning. It all looked a little strange, as if a desire for good optics might have trumped common sense for a few days.

The afternoon brought another abrupt shift. Hammered by Republicans who had discovered the Democratic platform lacked language on either God or Jerusalem, Democrats opened their convention with an unexpected set of amendments to add both in. The move disconcerted even some party faithful who weren't aware of what the amendments said before being asked to vote. Convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa looked downright uncomfortable as he called for three voice votes, each inconclusive, before ruling the amendments had passed.

Why put on public display such a messy, rushed-through change? Politicians don't do that unless they need to — unless events are moving fast and they need damage control. Obama, in a tight fight, probably can't afford controversies on issues such as whether his support for Israel is strong enough, or his party has faith in God.

Messy and revealing, despite the best laid plans.

— Sally Buzbee


EDITOR'S NOTE — Convention Watch shows you the 2012 political conventions through the eyes of Associated Press journalists. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.