Democrats looking to quell voter angst ahead of the party's upcoming convention in Denver announced two symbolic moves this week: They'll offer Sen. Hillary Clinton a roll call, and they'll offer evangelicals a revised platform on abortion.
Clinton will gladly take the roll call offer. The New York senator narrowly lost the Democratic nomination to Sen. Barack Obama after an epic primary battle, but retains a loyal following eager to see her vindicated, even if she can't win. Clinton is eager to maintain that support and the power it brings.
The Democratic Party badly wants to woo Clinton-backers: They've already given the senator and former President Bill Clinton primetime speaking spots at the convention later this month.
The decision to allow state delegations to deliver a traditional roll call for Clinton came after weeks of negotiations between the Clinton and Obama camps. The symbolic measure won't change any results-the Illinois senator's nomination is ironclad-but it will solidify Clinton's image as a woman to be reckoned with.
Evangelicals may be less enthusiastic about the Democrats' offering to them: a promise to vote on changing the party's platform on abortion. The new language would assert that the party "strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child," and say that the party will offer assistance to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Left-leaning evangelicals like Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo hailed the new language (and also helped to write it). Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland Church (a large evangelical church in Orlando, Fla.), also helped write the new paragraph and told reporters that he was pleased with the assistance Democrats pledged to mothers: "Pro-life voters of either party can now support Sen. Obama on the basis that more lives will be saved than if they had just taken a moral stand hoping to overturn Roe v. Wade."
But pro-life voters likely won't forget that Obama has repeatedly voted in favor of pro-abortion legislation in Congress, including an amendment to nullify federal policy prohibiting funding for overseas groups that promote or perform abortions.
Hunter told WORLD he shares evangelicals' concerns over those issues, but added, "I'm just speaking to one issue at a time here."
Even if pro-life voters appreciate the new paragraph in the proposed platform, they'll likely have a hard time with the first paragraph: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."