Ga. Democrats honor icons before Obama speech

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Some of the most senior members of the Georgia Democratic delegation say it's important for President Barack Obama to connect with voters struggling in a down economy when he speaks Thursday night.

Obama is set to accept his nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., before a crowd of more than 20,000.

"I think it's important for this president tonight to literally open up his heart, open up his soul. He must speak from his gut the way Bill Clinton did and the way his wife did," Rep. John Lewis told Channel 2's Lori Geary.

The Georgia delegation honored Lewis and the Rev. Joseph Lowery on Thursday for their dedication to the party and the civil rights movement.

"I'm in Congress because of the great work of John Lewis and Joe Lowery," Rep. David Scott said.

Geary asked Scott about the controversy surrounding the use of the words God and Jerusalem in the Democratic platform.

"It was a boneheaded decision. I was just as upset as I could be, but I was so proud of President Obama; he said, 'Nope, we're putting God back in there and we're putting Jerusalem back in there,'" Scott said.

It took three voice votes to approve the amendment, which was received by some boos when it passed.

Geary asked Lowery if the split hurt Democrats.

"I think we're getting off the subject. I don't think we have to apologize for God. I think we're not going to give in to those who want us to erase God from our consideration," Lowery said.

"I don't think there was a great divide over those two issues. The Democratic party is a big tent," Lewis told Geary.

Lewis said he's looking forward to the president's speech and continuing to help him through Election Day.

"More than anything else, I think the future of our democracy is at stake. There are people on the other side that want to deny people the right to participate in the democratic process," Lewis said.

Scott said Obama's message will determine the path of the rest of the election.

"I think what he has to do is show the path forward. He has to show he is the one with the answers. He is the one with the direction. He knows where this country needs to go, and he needs to do it with a huge exclamation point," Scott said.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told Geary the nation is better off than four years go.

"I don't believe that has reached people in their living rooms or around the kitchen table, so they really got to know that real help is on the way, and he's got to be very specific about what he wants to do," Reed said.

"We've just got to do it faster. We've got to be sensitive to the people who are hurting, but if you go by the record, his record is one of achievement and accomplishment," Reed said.

Channel 2 Action News plans to be on the floor when the president accepts his party's nomination. Stay with Channel 2 Action News and WSBTV.com for continuing coverage of the Democratic National Convention.