Cleveland Hosts Democratic Platform Hearings

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Arizona governor Janet Napolitano headed a 20-member committee that came to Cleveland to start construction on the 2008 Democratic platform. She said many of the platform topics --- such as: the economy...education...and the environment --- are the very issues that Ohio is grappling with.

NAPOLITANO: In the national debate and in the election, Ohio obviously is a critical place to be, so as many of us who can come and be here and get to know Ohio the better off we're all going to be.

On Friday afternoon, the group heard from over 30 expert witnesses who made a series of short presentations on subjects ranging from healthcare...to immigration...to the criminal justice. But, throughout the four-hour session, the economy was a recurring theme. United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard spoke of the need to retool old industries to meet new demands.

GERARD: Just here in Cleveland, the steel industry is being revitalized, but a lot of that steel is now going into infrastructure, it's going into building new wind turbines and less and less is going into automobiles. So, we need to rebuild the automobile industry and the way we're going to do that is by having cars that are made in American that get 40 and 50 miles to the gallon eventually.

Speaking for the healthcare needs of veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq, Sgt. Patrick Campbell said his emphasis is to separate the war from the warrior.

CAMPBELL: This is something that we learned from previous wars, and I'm happy to see that this generation has made that separation enough that --- no matter what your thoughts on the war is --- we have a solemn obligation to take care of the warrior when he or she gets home.

Other speakers ranged from feminist Eleanor Smeal speaking on workplace equality issues to former Reagan administration official Lawrence Korb who advocated restructuring the Pentagon which he described as "a mess".

On Saturday, the Drafting Committee heard testimony from ordinary citizens. Columbus mayor and committee member Michael Coleman said that session got to heart of the Democratic Platform theme of "Listening to America"

COLEMAN: Just regular folk, talking about their present and current issues.

The draft platform was crafted Sunday, and over a weekend where the philosophical focus was largely on the ideas of Barack Obama, some concessions were reportedly made to the healthcare proposals of his former Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. The document is due to be fine-tuned by the full platform committee this coming weekend in Pittsburgh. It'll then be delivered to the Democratic National Convention, which gets underway in Denver on August 25.

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