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At DNC, Clinton covers up day’s dysfunction

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For Democrats here, Bill Clinton’s booming voice conquered all Wednesday night.

His impassioned defense of President Barack Obama and lengthy Republican rebuke evoked for delegates, organizers and the country a wistful nostalgia for a less vicious era of American politics.

It also put a positive cap on a day that was, from a logistical and procedural standpoint, a disaster.

Wednesday started out with confirmation that the Obama campaign had decided to move Thursday night’s acceptance speech from Bank of America Stadium, an outdoor venue that holds 76,000 people, inside to the Time Warner Cable Arena, where Tuesday and Wednesday’s events have taken place.

The threat of severe weather for Thursday night, which was forecast around 30 percent, means that tens of thousands of people with tickets to see Obama’s acceptance speech —  from corporate donors whose large donations were rewarded with box seats to regular North Carolinians excited to witness history from the cheap seats — will have to watch on television.

It also means that the campaign’s stage for the stadium speech, which is rumored to have cost close to $10 million, will go unused.

Oh, and an over-capacity crowd last night, coinciding with the arrival of President Obama at the convention hall, left the building on lockdown for more than an hour, stranding delegates, donors and journalists outside.

An even bigger mess, one that threatens to hurt the Obama campaign long after the convention has left town, happened Wednesday as delegates were deadlocked on a voice vote over adopting changes to the official Democratic Party platform.

Division over two specific planks exploded on a stage with hundreds of cameras pointed after President Obama himself personally intervened Wednesday morning to make sure that language mentioning “God” and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, left out of the original platform, was added.

When roughly half the delegates in the room loudly objected to the change in a voice vote, DNC Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa was a deer in bright convention headlights, unsure how to proceed and dragging the embarrassing spectacle out with two more equally inconclusive voice votes.

In evangelical Colorado Springs Thursday morning, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan seized on the platform debacle to draw a contrast between the two parties on values.

“They cut references to God out of their platform,” the Wisconsin congressman said. “They reversed course on that one yesterday, it wasn’t really a popular reversal if you watched it on the TV, but to quote a prominent journalist from Wisconsin: They were against God before they were for Him.”

The self-inflicted wound has given the GOP another talking point.

But at the end of the night, Clinton gave Democrats something they had seem to lose over the last four years — hope.

Delegates left the hall quoting Clinton’s lines to each other like they’d just watched a Farrelly Brothers movie.

And pundits, even Republicans, were left to marvel at Clinton’s ability to clarify and reshape people’s perceptions of his own administration and the current one even with a meandering speech that ended up, at 48 minutes, being nearly twice as long as what he’d scripted.

Jeff Greenfield, a political analyst for CBS News, tweeted that watching Clinton speak was akin to watching Willie Mays play center field.

“It was a master class,” he said.

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