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Rain or shine, Obama to address Democratic convention outdoors

September 04, 2012|By Christi Parsons
  • A couple huddles under an umbrella during a sudden thunderstorm at CarolinaFest, the kickoff event for the Democratic National Convention, in Charlotte, N.C.
A couple huddles under an umbrella during a sudden thunderstorm at CarolinaFest,… (Davis Turner / EPA )

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Raindrops might be falling on their heads — occasionally, in drenching sheets — but Democrats here are still expected to listen to President Obama’s acceptance speech under open skies later this week.

Obama’s Thursday address at Bank of America Stadium will go on “rain or shine,” campaign manager Jim Messina said Tuesday — at least as long as it doesn’t pose a safety hazard.

Convention planners said that Tuesday morning, when the decision was made, was the last possible point at which they believed they could pull off a relatively organized switch to an indoor venue. 

Weather forecasters say there is a 40% chance of thunderstorms Thursday night, and scattered showers have bedeviled those who arrived early for this week's convention.

Campaign organizers want a repeat of the open-air address Obama delivered at the Denver convention in 2008, before a massive throng of delegates and supporters whose enthusiastic help he’ll need this fall.

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Besides, this is a group that gets excited about a five-point lead in a battleground poll. In relative terms, a 60% chance of clear skies is pretty good.

“It's going to be a special moment,” Messina told journalists at the Bloomberg News headquarters here Tuesday. “We’re really excited about it.”

Still, there remained an asterisk in the event that things go seriously awry weather-wise. Convention organizers told reporters they would move the proceedings back into the Time Warner Cable Arena, the indoor venue where other big-name speeches will be held, "in the event of severe weather," such as lightning or other dangerous conditions.

That would pose a logistical nightmare: While the stadium can accommodate as many as 65,000 people for the speech, the arena can hold fewer than 20,000. Among those holding tickets for Obama's speech Thursday are 6,000 volunteers who put in at least nine hours to get a "community credential."

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christi.parsons@latimes.com

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