ATLANTA -- The Democratic National Committee announced Wednesday that Rep. William Gray of Pennsylvania will chair a 16-member committee to draft the party's platform for the 1988 election.
Construction crews transforming Atlanta's Omni sports arena into a giant meeting hall for the Democratic National Convention halted their noisy operations for Party Chairman Paul Kirk, parading before TV cameras in a hard-hat, to make the announcement.
Kirk praised Gray's choice as chairman of the drafting panel, saying the appointment had been discussed with the campaigns of front-runner Michael Dukakis and No. 2 candidate Jesse Jackson and 'has the approval of both campaigns.'
Gray, a Baptist minister turned politician from Philadelphia, is chairman of the House Budget Committee and vice chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The drafting committee will meet with one non-voting member of each Democratic presidential campaign for four days beginning June 9 in Mackinac Island, Mich., to develop a draft of the party platform.
'We will build a platform this summer that will unite the Democratic Party and give every Democratic elected officials a head-start to victory in the fall,' a party statement said. 'Bill Gray and his team in Mackinac will be the architects of a document that will reflect the principles and goals that bond this party together and give it its strength.'
Kirk told reporters gathered at the convention site that this year's platform will not be a 'telephone-book' document with a 'legislative laundry list,' but rather 'an open letter to the working people of America.'
'We want the platform to be of such a form and length that people will want to read it,' Kirk said.
As reporters continued questioning Kirk and other party officials in the arena, curious construction workers ringing the news conference began grumbling about 'when they're going to let us get back to work.'
'We can stand around here doing nothing as long as you want us to,' one chubby laborer in a white hard-hat said. 'It's your money.'
Others named to the drafting committee are Jim Booe of Washington, D.C., Larry Crawford of Michigan, Ray Flynn of Massachusetts, Robert Matsui of California, Leslie McLemore of Mississippi, Cecil Partee of Illinois, John White of Pennsylvania, Lena Guerrero of Texas, Rachelle Horowitz of Washington, D.C., Paula McIlwaine of Ohio, Anne Burger Price of Pennsylvania, Doris Reggie of Louisiana, Laura Spencer of Massachusetts, Barbara Tauber of Wisconsin and Janice Thurmond of Georgia.
Under party rules, the drafting committee is chosen from the full platform committee. The members were selected in consultation with the Dukakis and Jackson campaigns and will be voted upon in a telephone poll of the 186 members of the full committee, the party statement said.