Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who will chair the Democratic National Convention, took his first look at Charlottes convention venues Tuesday, and took the chance to reach out to the citys Hispanic community.
Villaraigosa toured the convention center and other facilities with Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and convention CEO Steve Kerrigan. It was his first visit to the city in 12 years.
When you come to a great city you can feel it, he told reporters. Theres an energy here, a dynamism.
Villaraigosa, one of the nations highest-profile Hispanic political leaders, gave separate interviews to the citys Spanish-language media. He also was scheduled to shoot a video aimed at getting Hispanics involved with the convention.
The mayor was asked about a proposed Democratic platform plank in support of same-sex marriage. Hes on record supporting such a plank.
However, President Barack Obama opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. He has since said his position is evolving. Last month he came out in opposition to a proposed N.C. constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
Villaraigosa said he hasnt talked to the president about it.
Were going to have a (platform) process that will take place, he said, adding that we shouldnt enshrine discrimination in the Constitution.
Villaraigosa arrived in Charlotte Monday for meetings with convention officials and dinner with Foxx and Kerrigan. Villaraigosa, who also heads the U.S. Conference of Mayors, has come under fire at home for his travel.
A story in Tuesdays Los Angeles Times quoted local union officials lashing out at the mayor for flying all over the country, managing his image and trying to secure his next job.
A Villaraigosa spokesman said the mayor has traveled in part to get money for transportation, education and anti-gang programs in Los Angeles.