Not a drop of rain fell when President Barack Obama finished his DNC speech at the Time Warner Arena on Thursday night despite fears otherwise before the DNC decided to have the president make his remarks at an indoor site rather than a gigantic outdoor football stadium.
At the last minute on Wednesday, the Democratic National Convention announced that President Obama would accept the Democratic nomination for his presidential re-election at Charlotte’s Time Warner Arena as opposed to the previously scheduled and more massive venue Bank of America Stadium.
The DNC moved the president to the smaller Time Warner building, according to DNC officials, on account of the weather forecast for rain and thunderstorms in Charlotte on Thursday night.
“We have been monitoring weather forecasts closely and several reports predict thunderstorms in the area,” said Steve Kerrigan, the chief executive officer of the Democratic convention, said the move was necessary “to ensure the safety and security of our delegates and convention guests.”
According to the New York Times:
It was a disappointment for the Obama campaign, which had been working for months to build a crowd of at least 65,000 supporters for the president’s speech on Thursday. Campaign officials hoped that a packed stadium rally would answer the lingering questions about whether the energy surrounding Mr. Obama’s re-election bid is less than his first race four years ago.
A day after Jim Messina, the campaign manager, pledged to go forward with the outdoor speech “rain or shine – unless there’s a safety issue,” organizers concluded Wednesday morning that the weather was too unpredictable. The campaign dismissed suggestions that they would have had trouble filling the seats, which were distributed to people who volunteered on the campaign or waited in line for hours to get tickets.
“We will, no question, fill the seats,” said Dan Gross, an Obama campaign worker who has been overseeing preparations for the rally since June. “But it’s how do we fill the seats? How do we get these people involved who would not be typically involved in the convention?”
The Charlotte Observer, however, reported that attendance became limited to “15,000 donors, official guests, media, and, delegates attending the convention.” :
The news, which came as workers had nearly finished stadium preparations, angered some Obama supporters and left others resigned. Some wondered whether the decision would deflate voter enthusiasm. Many had stood in line for hours or put in volunteer time with the Obama campaign to get the free tickets.
“I don’t hate the Democratic Party because of it,” said Charlotte’s Terry Shipley. “I’m just disappointed.”
Said Charlotte’s Lesa Kastanas: “We need something for the rest of us – those of us who don’t have shiny credentials.”
Campaign officials say they’re working on that. They’ve promised shut-out ticket holders a call with President Obama at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. And they said they’re trying to arrange an event where the president would meet with the ticket holders before the election.
Brent Colburn, Obama for America communications director, expressed sympathy and encouraged ticket holders to watch the live broadcast at home and hold block parties.
“We share their frustration and disappointment,” Colburn said. “This isn’t a decision we wanted to make. It was a decision we felt we had to make.”
Maybe President Obama’s former chief of staff and now Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel made a correct prediction after all. The rain did stop when Obama arrived to speak, but thousands of Barack Obama supporters could not see him in person—only the one percent did.