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Platform writers draw ideas from Obama

Platform writers for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton worked side-by-side as the Democratic Party developed a policy statement to promote nominee-in-waiting Obama and keep Clinton backers involved.

world Updated: Aug 03, 2008 16:05 IST

Platform writers for Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton worked side-by-side on Saturday as the Democratic Party developed a policy statement to promote nominee-in-waiting Obama and keep Clinton backers involved.

The 20-member drafting committee heard on Friday and Saturday morning from scores of party regulars, policy experts and hard-luck Americans before beginning a draft of the platform, which goes before the full platform committee on Aug. 9 in Pittsburgh. The platform will be adopted at the Democratic National Convention from Aug. 25-28 in Denver.

The committee, meeting through Sunday, reviewed a 44-page document principally written by Karen Kornbluh, who has worked on Obama's Senate staff. She said the draft included Obama and Clinton materials and was meant to highlight renewing core American goals. Kornbluh said the Clinton materials in the draft include a commitment that "people who do the work in America will never be invisible to the Democratic Party," echoing a common Clinton campaign theme.

The platform also commits the party to addressing the needs of another group often mentioned by Clinton, the "sandwich generation" of working parents who are also caring for aging parents.

"They are working longer hours than ever even as they are asked to meet a new and growing set of caregiving responsibilities," the draft said.

The draft, subject to a number of changes to be offered by members, is to set the tone for the convention and Obama's campaign. "As we meet, our country is in the sixth year of a two-front war. Our economy is struggling. Our planet is in peril. These challenges, and many others, demand new leadership," the preamble said.

The Clinton and Obama camps seemed eager to deflect any suggestion of rivalry in the platform writing in the lead-up to the convention.

"Senator Clinton has worked to ensure that the Democratic platform will represent the concerns of working families in America today. The collaborative effort between Clinton staff and the Obama campaign has been positive and productive, and we look forward to continuing to review the platform as it develops," the Clinton campaign said in a statement.

Obama campaign spokesman Nick Shapiro said the platform drafting reflected a goal of "uniting in common effort to bring change to America."

Ron His Horse is Thunder, a draft committee member and chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota, supported former Sen. John Edwards, then Clinton and eventually Obama over the course of the primary campaign.

He said any Obama-Clinton policy differences were small in the context of the general election, and he used the "Invisible Americans" mantra that the Clinton campaign utilized to underscore overlooked working-class people.

"If you want to say 'Invisible Americans,' I think Obama was supportive of issues for the 'invisible Americans,' if you will, from the beginning," he said.

The session was interrupted for a minute by five people chanting "U.S. leadership represents imperialism. Don't attack Iran," reflecting opposition to possible military action to halt Iran's nuclear program. Protesters walked out as they chanted and identified themselves as Revolutionary Communist Party members who do not see a difference between Democratic and Republican policies toward Iran.

Both of the two major political parties produce a platform as a statement of principles each presidential election year. The Republican platform committee meets in late August to develop a draft to present to the party convention beginning Sept. 1 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Republicans solicited online platform suggestions and video submissions for platform