Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, pictured on Capitol Hill, expressed… (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…)
Reporting from Steubenville, Ohio — Just as President Obama's top campaign advisors are arguing that the prolonged GOP primary is raising controversial issues that will alienate the eventual GOP nominee from independent and swing voters in the fall, Democrats are facing a similar quandary.
On Wednesday morning, the chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, called for the party's platform to push for the legalization of gay marriage. That's a position opposed by Obama -- though he's said his views on the issue are "evolving" -- and one that many Democrats ostensibly would not want to have highlighted a few months before the general election.
Campaign manager Jim Messina, asked about the matter during a conference call with reporters, did not take a position on such a plank, but said that such a proposal would go through the normal platform revision process.
But at the same time, he and senior strategist David Axelrod argued that GOP front-runner Mitt Romney's wooing of conservative voters, such as his hard-line immigration stance or his refusal to forcefully condemn Rush Limbaugh for calling a law student a "slut," will not be forgotten if he is the Republican nominee.
"This is not a game – you're running for president of the United States," Axelrod said. "If you don't have the strength to stand up to the most strident voices in your party, how are you going to stand up to [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad? How are you going to stand up to the challenges of the presidency?"