President Barack Obama expressed his deep regret on Thursday afternoon to his many supporters who had hoped to attend tonight’s acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, only to be denied when the threat of inclement weather forced a venue change.
“I regret we’re not all gathering all at one place,” he told them during a 15-minute national teleconference call. “Because of the nature of our campaign, we’ve always been about getting everybody involved. The problem was a safety issue.”
The president made sure to praise his many supporters for their tireless efforts in getting the campaign’s message out, but pleaded for their continued support as the Nov. 6 election date nears.
“We can’t let a little thunder and lightning get us down,” Obama said. “We’re gonna have to roll with it.”
Some 65,000 Obama supporters were left disappointed following Wednesday’s news that the president’s Thursday night speech to formally accept his party’s nomination had been moved indoors from the cavernous Bank of America Stadium to the considerably smaller Time Warner Cable Arena.
The first two days of the convention had taken place at the arena that houses the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, but Democratic Party officials had hoped to put on a grander show for the convention’s finale.
The threat of thunderstorms precipitated the change, meaning only Democratic Party VIPs and delegates will get to see the president’s prime-time delivery in person.
Jeremy Bird, the Obama Campaign’s National Field Director, called it a “very difficult decision”, but one that was necessary to ensure the safety of the convention delegates and guests alike.
Obama supporters already in Charlotte were instead e-mailed information telling them where they could gather for watch parties with other supporters.
All of the disappointed would-be attendees were told the campaign would make sure they received the chance to see President Obama, Michelle Obama or Vice-President Joe Biden when any of the three later returned to their home areas.
Officials had already handed out 65,000 tickets for the event at the Bank of America stadium, but Time Warner Cable Arena can only seat up to 21,000 people, well shy of the 80,000 capable of fitting into Bank of America Stadium. As a result, thousands were turned away.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina called the decision to switch venues “agonizing.”
“We would have filled it,” he said of Bank of America Stadium. “It would have been an amazing night.”
GOP officials wasted little time in going on the attack, saying the move was instead mandated by the Obama campaign’s failure to generate enough interest to fill Bank of America Stadium. Shuffling the event to a smaller, more condensed venue, they argued, would provide for better TV coverage while sparing the president the embarrassment of speaking before rows of empty seats.