The Democratic convention committee announced Wednesday morning that President Obama’s scheduled outdoor speech on Thursday night would be moved inside because of expected thunderstorms, but Republicans quickly charged that the change was made because Obama would not have filled the open-air venue.
A convention spokeswoman told the Globe that 65,000 people had been credentialed for Obama’s address at Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers play, and that another 19,000 people were on a waiting list.
“The enthusiasm for this convention and this president has been overwhelming, and we were not expecting to have any empty seats,” said the spokeswoman, Joanne Peters. “This decision was first and foremost a public safety decision.”
Bad weather has been a theme of the political conventions: Last week, Republicans lost an entire day of their convention in Tampa because of Hurricane Isaac. The weather forecast for Democrats in Charlotte is less severe but is bad enough that organizers said they chose to move the final night of the convention to the Time Warner Cable Arena, which has hosted the first two days.
After the announcement, Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer tweeted “Lack of support makes Dems move Obama speech to smaller venue.” The RNC also retweeted a tweet by Brad Panovich, a local meteorologist: “Severe threat is almost zero Thursday night & chance of rain is 20%.”
The change from a football stadium that seats almost 74,000 people on game days to a basketball arena that holds only 20,000 means many people who planned to watch the president speak in person will be unable to do so. Convention officials announced that Obama would hold a conference call on Thursday afternoon for ticket holders who will not be able to attend his speech at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
“And we will work with the campaign to ensure that those unable to attend tomorrow’s event will be invited to see the president between now and Election Day,” said Steve Kerrigan, the convention committee’s chief executive.