CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After canceling his stadium-sized speech, President Obama on Thursday told the thousands of supporters who missed out on seeing him that he’s still counting on them to do the legwork required to get him re-elected.
“We’re going to have to work really hard over these next two months. I think, hopefully, at the end of this convention people will say that we accomplished what we needed to and delivered our vision for the country,” Mr. Obama said on a conference call designed to placate the 65,000 people who won’t be able to see him speak.
“But this is still going to be a really close election, and the other side is preparing to unleash just a barrage of negative ads. They’re getting massive checks from wealthy donors. The good thing is, I’ve got you. I really need your help, guys.”
He also explained the cancellation, saying that “the problem was a safety issue.”
Four years ago, then-candidate Obama delivered a stirring stadium speech in Denver on his way to winning the White House.
His campaign had hoped to duplicate that this year in Charlotte, but they said threats of bad weather forced them to change those plans. On Wednesday, looking at a forecast that included the chance of thunderstorms, they canceled the stadium event and instead said Mr. Obama will accept Democrats’ nomination in a speech at the convention arena, where the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions were held.
The campaign apologized repeatedly on the conference call, noting that some people had flown in just to hear Mr. Obama speak.
But campaign officials and Mr. Obama himself said they were too worried about lightning strikes.
“Your safety and that of our police and first responders always comes first,” campaign manager Jim Messina said.
He said they would have filled the stadium to standing-room-only capacity, though news reports said there was less enthusiasm for the tickets this year than four years ago in Denver. North Carolina papers reported last month that tickets were being given out to all comers, and Republicans said Democrats canceled the stadium speech because they were afraid of the image of empty seats.