Democrats are poised to avoid the danger of President Barack Obama accepting his party’s nomination before a partially-empty stadium by shifting his speech to an indoor arena and citing ‘severe weather.’
The Obama campaign have been working desperately to ensure that the 74,000-seater Bank of America stadium in Charlotte would be filled.
Buses for students from across North Carolina and even members of black churches in neighboring South Carolina have been arranged.
Footage of rows of empty seats at the stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers, as Obama speaks on Thursday night would be politically disastrous – an enduring image of the contrast between his campaign of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ in 2008 and his dour, negative struggle for re-election in 2012.
Now, it looks like the weather has come to the President’s rescue.
As officials prepare to open the Democratic convention this afternoon, there are strong indications that the speech will be moved to Time Warner Cable Arena, which has a capacity of just over 20,000.
Speaking at a background briefing for the press, a Democratic official said that the speech would be given in the stadium ‘rain or shine’ before quickly adding a major caveat.
‘We do have a contingency plan, though, for lightning or other severe weather,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way so that’s really what we’re looking for, not if it’s going to rain but if it’s going to be really bad.
‘The reason that we’re not releasing the details on what a move to the arena would mean until that decision is made we don’t want a lot of conflicting information out there.
‘But once that decision is made – if the decision is made – to move, we will make sure all of the details and we want to make sure all of our supporters know exactly what is happening if it changes.’
Another official said that the use of the stadium was being reviewed ‘on an ongoing basis and we’ll keep you informed on any decision’.
The current Weather Underground forecast for Charlotte on Thursday is: ‘Partly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. High of 93F with a heat index of 99F. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.’
Democratic convention sources have indicated that the ‘contingency plan’ is at an advanced stage and that a move to the stadium appears certain.
‘It looks like a done deal to me,’ said one convention worker. ‘The decision’s apparently been taken and it’s just a matter of spinning it as being forced on us by the weather.’
Convention delegates, party volunteers and Democratic officials gathered in Charlotte would make up about one-third of a crowd in the Bank of America stadium, which officials have said would be 65,000 people.
In 2008, when Obama fever was at its height, the then US Senator had no trouble filling an 84,000-seater outside stadium in Denver, Colorado. But voter enthusiasm has waned this time around.
Obama’s crowds in 2008 were far bigger than in recent months. His largest audience has been 14,000 at a campaign kick-off rally at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio in May.
Some 13,000 people were at Obama’s rally at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado on Sunday.
Source: THE DAILY MAIL