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Makeup plan in works for dejected Obama speech ticketholders

September 05, 2012|By Matea Gold and Kathleen Hennessey

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Obama will do a national conference call with supporters Thursday as part of a campaign effort  to accommodate 65,000 supporters who will be unable to attend his acceptance speech that night because convention officials canceled plans to hold it in a large outdoor stadium.

“What we’re going to do is President Obama tomorrow is going to do a national conference call with all the community credential holders, and they’ll be able to hear from President Obama and his message during the day,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Wednesday as she left a Starbucks stand in the Charlotte Convention Center.

“And then we’re going to hold an event that those community credential holders will be able to attend to see President Obama between now and election day,” she added.

PHOTOS: Protests of the DNC

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed a plan is in the works to make sure ticketholders are invited to various campaign events between now and election day.

Obama was scheduled to accept his party’s presidential nomination in the open-air Bank of America stadium, just as he accepted his 2008 nomination in an outdoor stadium in Denver.

But officials said early Wednesday that the possibility of severe thunderstorms, which have battered Charlotte all week, posed too much of a potential threat to safety in a crowded outdoor venue. They moved the final night of the Democratic National Convention to the smaller Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of proceedings Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

That decision came as a blow to the tens of thousands of supporters who received “community credentials” in exchange for nine hours of volunteering for the campaign. And it complicated plans by the campaign to use the closing night of the party conclave as the “world’s largest field pitch,” as one put it, to get supporters engaged in get-out-the-vote operations.

Obama aides said the president was “disappointed” by the decision to move the speech, and stressed that the call was made “at the staff level.”

PHOTOS: Scenes from the DNC

“We’ve been working closely on the ground with an advisory team. This is not a Panthers game, as you may know,” Psaki told reporters from Air Force One, as the president flew to Charlotte. “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."

Republicans pounced on the move, however, suggesting that convention officials made the change because they couldn’t fill the stadium.

Wasserman Schultz dismissed that.

“Oh, please,” she said. “We had 65,000 credentials that had already been distributed and activated, and we had 19,000 on the waiting list.”

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matea.gold@latimes.com

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

Twitter: @mateagold

Twitter: @kathleenhennessey

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