CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Democrats announced Wednesday that they will move President Obama's acceptance speech from an outdoor stadium to an indoor arena, citing forecasts of possible severe thunderstorms and lightning, a move that disappointed thousands of supporters.
Moving Thursday's convention proceedings from the giant Bank of America football stadium to the smaller Time Warner Cable Arena severely limits the number of people who can attend.
Organizers said they had expected 65,000 Obama supporters to pack the stadium, including tens of thousands of swing-state voters who in some cases had volunteered for the campaign in return for the promise of a ticket to a night of charged political pageantry.
The indoor venue seats less than a third of what the stadium could hold, and will be limited mainly to convention delegates, media and guests, as it has since the Democratic National Convention opened on Tuesday. The Obama campaign said the president will address holders of what they called "community credentials" on a conference call.
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Four years ago, Obama accepted the nomination before an estimated 86,000 jubilant supporters who jammed what was then called Invesco Field at Mile High, an outdoor stadium in Denver. His aides had hoped to repeat the spectacle to fire up campaign workers and Democratic voters in the final sprint to election day.
With intermittent rain showers and thunderstorms swirling around and sometimes drenching Charlotte since Sunday, party officials have been closely watching weather forecasts for Thursday evening. They had insisted the event would go on rain or shine, but the possibility of lightning forced them to reconsider "to ensure the safety and security of our delegates and convention guests," Democratic Convention Committee Chief Executive Steve Kerrigan said in a statement.
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Meteorologists have said the stormy weather in Charlotte this week is in part a consequence of the remnants of Hurricane Isaac, the same storm that forced Republicans to cancel the first day of their convention in Tampa, Fla., last week.
Republicans immediately suggested that the Obama team moved the speech because they couldn't fill the stadium seats.
An Obama official said Wednesday morning that they had credentialed 65,000 people to attend the speech, and that they had a waiting list of 19,000 people who had been turned away.
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