Verne Strickland Blogmaster / September 5, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Obama's acceptance speech has been moved from the Bank of America Stadium to the Time Warner Cable Arena, Democrats announced Wednesday.
The announcement comes after Obama campaign officials insisted the speech would go forward in the stadium "rain or shine." The stadium speech was meant to recall Obama's 2008 address in Denver, when he closed a largely successful convention with a speech to supporters at Invesco Field.
Republicans took glee in the decision, and expressed doubt that the weather was the real reason for the venue switch.
There have been questions over whether Democrats could fill the football stadium, which holds 73,000 seats, and the GOP was quick to argue that the real reason for moving Obama's speech was a lack of enthusiasm for the president four years later.
"Problems filling the seats," asked an email sent Wednesday by the Republican National Committee. It said Democrats were "continue to downgrade events due to a lack of enthusiasm." Time Warner Cable Arena, where the Democratic National Convention has been taking place all this week, holds 22,000 seats.
Democrats pushed back at the Republican accusations.
"The bottom line is that you just need to look at the forecast," a campaign official said. "This was not a political decision. This was a public safety decision... We wanted this to go forward."
"Everyone will sleep soundly knowing we are making the right decision," the campaign official said. "You have to make the best call you can with the information you have at the time.
Campaign aides said a final decision was made on Wednesday morning. It is not immediately known how President Obama took the news.
Officials said they had given out 65,000 community credentials and advised that those people should not plan to attend tomorrow night.
"We were concerned about capacity on the high end not the low end," a campaign official said.
Democratic officials said 19,000 people were currently on a waiting list and that they were expecting close to 89,000 supporters on Thursday night.
Officials said they "can't accomodate" those people but encouraged them to hold watch parties with their neighbors.
A campaign aide called the move a "public safety decision" and added that the campaign is "disappointed we have to make this call."
Moving the event is "a logistical lift," said another campaign official, who reiterated Team Obama is "disappointed" that tens of thousands of people "won't be able to join us."
"Our top priority is the safety of our convention goers and guests," a Democratic official said.
— This story was updated 10:35 a.m.