-- The Democratic primary may be over after California votes on June 7, but loyalists to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appear to be on a collision course over what the Democratic Party stands for — especially on the issue of Israel.
On this week’s “Powerhouse Politics” podcast, ABC News’ Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein talked to two members of the Democratic Party’s important Platform Drafting Committee tasked with writing a unified platform but divided in their choice of candidates: Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Clinton ally, and Sanders supporter James Zogby.
Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute and a pro-Palestinian activist, says the party is in need of more “balanced” and even-handed platform language on Israel and Palestine to move toward what he sees as an emerging consensus.
“There needs to be a recognition that there are two wings of this Democratic Party and we need both wings to fly,” he continued, “and that is the approach that we will hopefully take as a committee.”
Zogby said he’s seen an “evolving Hillary Clinton” on the issue since her time as first lady, when she called for a Palestinian state.
“[There was] Hillary Clinton as first lady, then there was a Hillary Clinton as senator; now we’re talking about Hillary Clinton as president,” he said. “I see an evolving Hillary Clinton and I would like to see a Hillary Clinton that reflects this new consensus that is emerging.”
While Zogby is readying for battle in advocating changes to the platform language on Israel, Gutierrez said there should be a way to achieve language that strongly supports Israel while also being more inclusive of the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
“We have to maintain a very close relationship with our dear friend and ally Israel, but does that mean we cannot be more inclusive? Does that mean we cannot be more reflective of the goals and ambitions of the Palestinian people?” Gutierrez asked rhetorically. “I don’t think one thing negates the other.”
In what was perhaps a direct shot at Zogby, Gutierrez went on to say that the platform’s final language will not be about “the values of activists” but of the Democratic Party as a whole.
“I’m going to look for a Democratic Party consensus that reflects, not the values of activists that are all of a sudden put on a committee but of the people,” he said.
Gutierrez also scoffed at the notion that Clinton supporters are somehow less progressive than Sanders’ supporters.
“It’s almost as though, well, if you are with Bernie Sanders you must be progressive and for change, and all the rest of us are just some, I don’t know, sellouts to Wall Street and to the establishment. That’s just not the case,” he said.
Gutierrez also sought to make the case that Clinton already has all but clinched the nomination.
“Let’s be clear, she has the nomination,” the Illinois Democrat told ABC News.
“Hillary Clinton is now 80 delegates away from wrapping it up,” he said. “There is no political scientist or anybody that has any credibility that doesn’t believe that Hillary Clinton is not going to have the number of delegates required to become the nominee.”
But Zogby has a different take, arguing that the race is far from over and that much work remains to be done to unify the party.
“Sen. Sanders has about 50 percent of the Democratic votes to date, Sec. Clinton has about 50 percent of the Democratic votes to date," Zogby said.
Gutierrez, a Latino and immigrant rights activist, went on to accuse Sanders of not supporting immigrants.
“In 2007, Hillary Clinton voted for comprehensive immigration reform when Bernie Sanders turned his back on immigrants and went to brag about it on Lou Dobbs' program,” he said. “That’s why people are for her, that’s why Latinos have supported her across this country and why I expect her to be triumphant in California.”
While the two Democratic campaigns may locked in a battle over issues, Zogby said the divisions that do exist pale in comparison to what he called an existential crisis in the Republican Party with Trump at the helm.
“I don’t think there is anything near the divisions on the Democratic side that currently exist on the Republican side, their crisis is existential,” Zogby said.