CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Embarking on the stretch run of his final campaign, President Obama arrived at the Democratic National Convention here Wednesday afternoon in advance of accepting his party’s renomination Thursday night.
The president brought along his head speechwriter, Jon Favreau, and political strategist David Axelrod, on Air Force One as he prepares for the last big campaign speech of his political career. Aides said Mr. Obama is still working on the address.
Mr. Obama’s departure from Washington on Air Force One was delayed about 20 minutes by a torrential rainstorm as the plane taxied for takeoff at Andrews Air Force Base. Hours earlier, the threat of thunderstorms caused Democratic organizers to move the president’s acceptance speech from the open-air Bank of America football stadium in Charlotte to the indoor Time Warner Cable arena where the rest of the convention is being held.
“We’re all disappointed, because we had 65,000 ticket holders plus 19,000 people who were on the waiting list, excited to hear him deliver his speech tomorrow night,” said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “So certainly he [the president] is [disappointed].”
Ms. Psaki said the decision was made “on the staff level. We’ve been working closely on the ground with an advisory team.”
“This is not a Panthers game, as you may know,” she said, referring to the NFL team that plays its games at the stadium. “It’s a national special security event. So the criteria used for that is ensuring that we’re not putting the public safety or security of anybody in the audience at risk. This isn’t a call we wanted to make. We would have possibly had to evacuate the stadium” if thunderstorms hit, she said.
Upon his arrival at an Air National Guard base in Charlotte, Mr. Obama met with the families of four North Carolina National Guardsmen who lost their lives on July 1 while fighting a wildfire in the Black Hills of South Dakota when their C-130 crashed.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama also were to meet later Wednesday with four winners of a campaign fundraising contest.
It’s not clear where, or whether, Mr. Obama will watch former President Bill Clinton address the convention Wednesday night. Ms. Psaki said Mr. Obama has not scheduled a meeting with Mr. Clinton but will probably “see him around town. … He looks forward to watching his speech and we’ll see what the next few weeks bring.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the president was “extremely pleased” with Mrs. Obama’s speech to the convention Tuesday night. He said Mr. Obama “commented on the power of the words she spoke and the grace and skill with which she delivered the speech. I think any of you who saw it were impressed as I was.”