WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking to defuse tensions, the Democratic National Committee said Friday it will hold public hearings around the country to develop the platform for its summer convention, a focal point for supporters of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, announced that a 15-member platform drafting committee will hold hearings in Washington on June 8-9, Phoenix on June 17-18, St. Louis on June 24-25 and Orlando, Florida, on July 8-9, about two weeks before the Philadelphia convention.
The party will also allow rank-and-file Democrats to submit written or video testimony or request to testify in person by going online at https://demconvention.com .
Heading into California’s June 7 primary, Sanders has vowed to amass as many delegates as possible at the convention to try to win the nomination against front-runner Hillary Clinton. Clinton holds a substantial lead among delegates and has been calling for unity as she closes in on the nomination in the final stretch of the primary calendar.
But the platform could provoke a fight between supporters of Clinton and Sanders who are tangling over the party’s future.
Sanders’ campaign has accused Wasserman Schultz of providing more favorable conditions to Clinton during the primaries. He has warned that the process to write the platform, a statement of the party’s values adopted at the convention every four years, was unfairly tilted to benefit the former secretary of state. Some of those tensions spilled out during a contentious Nevada Democratic convention earlier this month.
Wasserman Schultz has denied that she placed her thumb on the scales for Clinton during the primaries. In a statement, she said the platform is “an expression of Democrats’ values and our process will ensure they have their voices heard.”
The Vermont senator wants the party to include in the platform strong statements about undercutting wealth inequality, the influence of Wall Street and campaign finance reform. He has also vowed to make the party more open and welcoming of working-class voters and independents.
The platform drafting committee will be chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who has endorsed Clinton, and include other supporters of Clinton and Sanders as well as neutral members. Cummings said in a statement that the hearings are aimed at “broadening the process to welcome and include input from across the nation.”
“I want to ensure we take up the issues at the center of people’s lives so I hope Democrats will make time to share their perspectives,” he said.
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