CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An apologetic President Obama told supporters who were to attend his acceptance speech Thursday that he couldn't take the risk that severe weather might put them in danger, and urged them to nonetheless recommit themselves to his reelection effort as the campaign enters the final stretch.
Obama said that he was disappointed that the call had to be made to move the proceedings indoors, and that his staff was likewise "crestfallen."
But, "we can't let a little thunder and lightning get us down. We have to roll with it," Obama said on a conference call organized for holders of the "community credentials" that entitled backers to a seat at the Democratic convention's final night.
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"All I can tell you is how much I appreciate everything you've done," he added. "You've … shown that there's plenty of enthusiasm out there."
Organizers made the call Tuesday morning to cancel plans for Obama to deliver his speech at Bank of America Stadium, a venue that was to allow more than 70,000 people to attend. Obama campaign staff said there was actually a wait list for tickets, rebutting Republican assertions that the change of venue was made to avoid an embarrassing situation in which there would be empty seats.
The weather in Charlotte on Thursday afternoon was party cloudy. The National Weather Service forecast scattered showers and thunderstorms Thursday evening, though it was supposed to clear out in time for Obama's remarks in the 10 p.m. hour.
Because of the security required for the event, "getting 70,000 people into a place is tough. Getting them out of there is even tougher, and if we started to see severe thunderstorms and lightning in particular, it would have been a problem," Obama said.
The campaign intends to stay in contact with those who held tickets for the event and make good by granting them access to future campaign events featuring the president, vice president or first lady.
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Obama otherwise said the convention has been a rousing success. He singled out speeches from his wife and Wednesday night's barnburner from former President Clinton, whom he said "broke down the issues as effectively as anyone."
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