Democrats move Obama acceptance speech indoors
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Democratic officials announced this morning that the threat of rain and thunderstorms had forced them to move President Obama's acceptance speech Thursday night from Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of the first two nights of the convention.
In a conference call with reporters, convention organizers acknowledged that the shift from the football stadium, the home of the Carolina Panthers, to the 20,000-seat indoor facility would disappoint thousands of Obama supporters who had expected to be on hand for the speech.
"This was not a political decision, this was a public safety decision,'' one official said.
The overall capacity of the football field is just over 70,000 but in the configuration planned for the speech, it would have had room for about 65,000. As it had four years ago with Mr. Obama's outdoor speech at Invesco Field in Denver, the Obama campaign had hoped to use the larger audience as an organizing tool.
Obama for America offices in North Carolina had held out tickets for the event as an inducement to draw volunteers to commit to devoting hours to the campaign and there had been reports locally that some supporters had waited in line for hours last weekend to obtain tickets. Skeptical Republicans suggested that the weather rationale might have been an excuse to quell Democratic fears that they would not be able to fill the stadium but Democratic organizers insisted that they were confident of a full house.
The campaign said that Mr. Obama would hold a conference call Thursday afternoon for the disappointed holders of credentials for the event.
This was the second week in a row that the elements had played havoc with the long-planned logistics of a political convention. Last week the GOP was forced to cancel the first day of its convention due to Tropical Storm Isaac.
"I guess Mother Nature treated both parties equally," said James Burn, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party chairman.
In a statement explaining the decision, Steve Kerrigan, the convention CEO, said, "We have been monitoring weather forecasts closely and several reports predict thunderstorms in the area. Therefore we have decided to move Thursday's proceedings to Time Warner Cable Arena to ensure the safety and security of our delegates and convention guests."
The National Weather Service put the chance of showers for Thursday night at 30-40 percent. Late afternoon and evening thunderstorms have cropped up every day since Saturday here, but some forecasts suggested a likelihood of improvement tomorrow.
The latest Accuweather forecast called for intervals of sun and clouds through Thursday with isolated showers although it also predicted clearer weather for the evening.
Mr. Obama is scheduled to speak at approximately 10:30 p.m.
First Published September 5, 2012 10:34 am