CHARLOTTE — President Obama held a conference call with supporters today who won’t be able to watch him accept his party’s nomination in person this evening.
Obama was supposed to conclude this week’s Democratic convention at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. However, the threat of severe thunderstorms forced Democratic officials to move the speech indoors to the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the rest of the party’s convention has taken place.
The decision effectively shut out roughly 65,000 Obama supporters, who received community credentials to attend the final night. The stadium, which seats 73,778 on football game days, can accommodate nearly four times the number of people as the arena.
“The problem was a safety issue,” the president explained. “I could not ask you — our volunteers, our law enforcement, first responders — to subject themselves to the risk of severe thunderstorms. And you guys can imagine, with all the merging that goes on and the security issues involved, getting 70,000 people into a place is tough; getting them out of there is even tougher. And if we had started seeing severe thunderstorms and lightning, in particular, it would have been a problem. And we would have had a situation where we were putting you guys at risk.”
Critics have accused Democrats of using the weather as an excuse to hide the fact that they may not have been able to fill the stadium with fans. Democrats, however, have pushed back heavily against such speculation, saying that they would have had no such problem.
“I know it’s disappointing,” Obama continued. “I’ve got to tell you, I saw some of my key staff who had come down here and they’ve literally been working non-stop for months just getting the logistics of this all put together. And obviously, they were a little bit crestfallen. And I know it’s especially disappointing for a lot of you who worked hard to get your tickets to the event, or traveled or planned to travel a long way at your own expense to be here.”