The Democratic National Committee was well aware of North Carolina’s typical September weather when they scheduled the President’s nomination acceptance speech in the 74,000 seat Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Despite plans to bus in supporters from other states, however, the flagging party doesn’t appear to be able to fill the stands, and may be using a slim 30-percent chance of rain as the excuse to move to a much smaller 20,000 seat indoor venue.
Democrats are poised to avoid the danger of President Barack Obama accepting his party’s nomination before a partially-empty stadium by shifting his speech to an indoor arena and citing ‘severe weather’.
The Obama campaign have been working desperately to ensure that the 74,000-seater Bank of America stadium in Charlotte would be filled.
Buses for students from across North Carolina and even members of black churches in neighboring South Carolina have been arranged.
Footage of rows of empty seats at the stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers, as Obama speaks on Thursday night would be politically disastrous – an enduring image of the contrast between his campaign of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ in 2008 and his dour, negative struggle for re-election in 2012.
Now, it looks like the weather has come to the President’s rescue.
As officials prepare to open the Democratic convention this afternoon, there are strong indications that the speech will be moved to Time Warner Cable Arena, which has a capacity of just over 20,000.
Democratic convention sources have indicated that the ‘contingency plan’ is at an advanced stage and that a move to the stadium appears certain.
‘It looks like a done deal to me,’ said one convention worker. ‘The decision’s apparently been taken and it’s just a matter of spinning it as being forced on us by the weather.’
Convention delegates, party volunteers and Democratic officials gathered in Charlotte would make up about one-third of a crowd in the Bank of America stadium, which officials have said would be 65,000 people.
In 2008, when Obama fever was at its height, the then US Senator had no trouble filling an 84,000-seater outside stadium in Denver, Colorado. But voter enthusiasm has waned this time around.
Is moving to a venue less than half the size of that planned because of a fear of empty seats any less dispiriting to Democrats that watching TOTUS being read in front of tens of thousands of empty seats in a stadium?
The fear that the DNC can only fill an arena a quarter of the size of the stadium used for his 2008 acceptance speech says far more about the President’s prospects than anyone wants to admit.
No wonder so few Democratic heavy hitters are avoiding Charlotte to avoid being branded with Obama’s emerging “loser” label.