CONVENTION WATCH: God and Israel, Clinton comeback

Associated Press
Los Angeles Mayor and Democratic Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa calls for a vote to amend the platform the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — 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.

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GOD AND ISRAEL

So much for harmony on the floor.

When Democrats amended their convention platform to add a mention of God and declare that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, they needed approval of two-thirds of the delegates present. Based on the roars, it was hard to tell.

Convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, called for a vote three times before ruling that the amendments had been approved.

In the first vote, a sizable number of the delegates in the half-empty arena yelled, "No!"

"Let me do that again," Villaraigosa said.

In the second vote, a large numbers of delegates yelled, "Aye!" But that was followed by roars opposing the decision.

Villaraigosa said, "I, umm ... let me do that again." When he tried it a third time, he announced that the amendments had been approved, despite contentions from some delegates that they shouldn't have passed.

The awkward moment came after Republicans criticized Democrats for approving a platform without God or the stance on Jerusalem.

— Ken Thomas www.twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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CALL IT A COMEBACK

Bill Clinton left office with positive approval ratings for his handling of the presidency and negative ones for his personal character. But the man once known as the Comeback Kid has brought his personal image back from the depths.

In a January 2001 Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll, 65 percent of Americans said they approved of the way Clinton was handling "his job as president," while just 41 percent said that they approved "of Clinton as a person." Just 14 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of independents said they approved of Clinton personally.

Today, Gallup released a poll showing Clinton viewed favorably by 69 percent of Americans, including 43 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of independents. That's his highest favorability rating in polls back to 1993. And among those groups where President Barack Obama's ratings lag, such as men, whites and older voters, the former president shines.

Clinton also consistently polls near the top when Americans are asked who is the greatest president in U.S. history. In February 2011, 13 percent of Americans said they considered Clinton the greatest U.S. president, placing him third on the list, on par with Abraham Lincoln and a bit below Ronald Reagan.

— Jennifer Agiesta — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennagiesta

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GOLDEN PLEDGE

By now, Olympic champion Gabby Douglas must be getting used to the cheers.

Taking the stage at the Democratic National Convention, the gold medal-winning gymnast heard chants of "Gabby!" as she prepared to lead the Pledge of Allegiance on the second day of the convention.

The 16-year-old winner of the all-around title, wearing a black and white dress, posed for photos on the stage as cheers rippled throughout the arena hours before former President Bill Clinton's speech.

— Ken Thomas — www.twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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RAIN OR SHINE — OR NOT

The Obama campaign said President Barack Obama's speech would go on at the Carolina Panthers' football stadium no matter what the weather, just like a football game. Wait, scratch that.

On Tuesday, campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Obama's speech would happen at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday "rain or shine, similar to other events at the stadium. Of course, there are many sports teams that I hear do some business there."

When Democrats on Wednesday abruptly switched the location of Obama's speech because of a rainy forecast and safety concerns, the football comparison fell out of favor fast.

"This is not a Panthers game," Psaki said. "It's a national special security event."

When asked about the change of rhetoric in 24 hours, Psaki said "there's a difference between raindrops and severe thunderstorms."

— Ben Feller — Twitter http://twitter.com/BenFellerDC

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NEW HEADGEAR

A pair of big, black headphones with a mouthpiece isn't Megyn Kelly's usual look, but the Fox News Channel anchor learned her lesson from the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

Kelly is anchoring her two-hour afternoon news show live from the convention center in Charlotte, although on Tuesday she probably regretted it. As she was trying to interview guests, musicians who were to perform at the convention were loudly rehearsing material on the stage below. The music didn't drown out the speakers on air, but Kelly complained she was having a tough time hearing what people were saying.

The new headgear on Wednesday showed she wasn't taking chances on a repeat.

— David Bauder — Twitter http://twitter.com/dbauder

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A FAMILY AFFAIR

President Obama was still at the White House when Michelle Obama spoke, but he made sure she knew she had made him proud.

Obama called his wife to tell her what an incredible job she had done, says Obama's spokeswoman. He told aides he had been impressed not only by the power of her words, but with the "great zeal" with which she spoke.

Joining Obama as he watched Mrs. Obama on Tuesday were his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, and mother-in-law Marian Robinson.

Before the speech, Obama chatted over dinner with his daughters about their first day of school. The two girls will fly to Charlotte after school on Thursday — in time for Dad's big speech.

— Josh Lederman — Twitter http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

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THE MOM FACE

Not sure exactly what it looks like, but Michelle Obama is putting on the dreaded "mom face" as she prods Democrats to get work for her husband's re-election.

At a luncheon honoring gay rights supporters, the first lady said: "We need you out there every single day between now and Nov. 6. You see my face? I'm serious? It's my serious first lady face. My 'mom' face."

Fear the face.

— Nancy Benac — Twitter http://twitter.com/nbenac

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AND NEBRASKA?

So much for Nebraska this time.

First lady Michelle Obama's pep talk with members of the Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday prompted someone in the audience to shout, "We've got to make Ohio blue," referring to putting the battleground state in the Democratic column. Another person shouted "Virginia" and someone shouted, "Florida," naming two of the most hotly-contested states.

Then someone yelled, "Nebraska!" Mrs. Obama replied to laughter that she was "not sure about Nebraska but we want every vote in Nebraska we can get."

Obama won one electoral vote in deep red Nebraska in 2008, winning the vote designated to an Omaha-area congressional district. Nebraska awards three of its electoral votes by congressional district and the state's other two electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote.

The last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Nebraska was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

— Ken Thomas — Twitter http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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JULIAN CASTRO'S DAUGHTER

Democrat Julian Castro admitted his 3-year-old daughter's hair flipping had him a little flipped out while he was addressing thousands of Democratic National Convention delegates.

The young Carina Victoria Castro's hair tossing came while her father was making what could be a national political career launching speech on prime-time television Tuesday night.

Castro told reporters in a streaming interview that he was talking about passing the torch to the next generation and was speaking to his daughter saying, "Que Dios te bendiga," ''May God bless you." Meanwhile, the audience could see Carina on the big screen television above the stage where her father stood, flipping her locks.

"Everyone started laughing and I was like, "What? You are not supposed to laugh at this part," Castro said.

Castro's speech earned him much ink and follow-up interviews. But video of his daughter also drew attention Wednesday. Video of her were being shared on social media and led some to refer to Willow Smith's popular song, "I Whip My Hair Back And Forth."

Castro said many politicians who have delivered the keynote speech at Democratic conventions have gone nowhere. Then again, they didn't have a young, hair-flipping Carina helping them.

— Suzanne Gamboa — Twitter http://twitter.com/APsgamboa

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NO BALLOONS?

No balloons? What kind of a political convention is that?

At almost the last minute, the Democrats have canceled Thursday night's big football stadium event featuring President Barack Obama's re-nomination acceptance speech. Bad weather forecast, they say. Going indoors to the nearby basketball/hockey arena. But the ceiling there is filled with exactly none of the thousands of red, white and blue balloons that TV viewers expect to be dropping as a convention finale.

Will the party move heaven and earth — and beseech hundreds of party decoration stores around the Southeast — to get some balloons ready?

Nope. No balloons. Party officials say they're thinking about some other suitably celebratory finish.

— Jim Kuhnhenn — Twitter http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn

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OH, JOE

Poor Joe Biden.

Here's what people really think of him.

Asked for a one-word impression of the vice president, more people use negative words than positive, according to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post.

"The top positive words used to describe Biden are good and honest," Pew reported Wednesday. "Many of the negative words focus on Biden's intelligence: Aside from clown, a number of people describe Biden as stupid, a joke, goofy and a buffoon."

Overall, among those offering a word to describe Biden, 38 percent use negative terms, 23 percent give positive words and 39 percent give neutral descriptions.

— Nancy Benac — Twitter http://twitter.com/nbenac

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MICHELLE OBAMA'S 'SECRETS'

Even after Michelle Obama's big speech at the Democratic National Convention, there are still a few things you might not know about her.

Us Weekly, in the edition hitting stands Friday, features the first lady in its "25 Things You Don't Know About Me" feature.

Some of them aren't too surprising: It's important to vote! She meets inspiring people on the campaign trail!

But a smattering may be news to you:

— "Sometimes I let our Portuguese water dog, Bo, sleep in our bed when Barack is gone."

— "My nickname growing up was Meesh."

— "I never go anywhere without my iPod."

— "My daughter Sasha (11) taught me how to use the DVR."

— "We finish grace by saying, 'May we live long and strong.'"

— "The first thing I do when I sit down for a meeting with staff is kick off my shoes."

— "I skipped the second grade."

— Nancy Benac — Twitter http://twitter.com/nbenac

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