CHARLOTTE -- A conference call with President Obama today was a small consolation for some 50,000 people being turned away from his speech tonight in
The speech was supposed to be held in the 70,000-seat Bank of America football stadium but the threat of rain prompted the Democratic
National Committee to move it to the much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena.
"The problem was a safety issue. I could not ask you, our volunteers, our law enforcement, first responders to subject themselves to the
risk of severe thunderstorms," Mr. Obama told ticket holders on the conference call.
"I know it's especially disappointing for a lot of you who worked hard to get your tickets to the event, or traveled or planned to travel a
long way at your own expense to be here," he said.
Still, he said, "We can't get a little thunder and lightning get us down," Mr. Obama said.
Republicans, meanwhile, accused organizers of moving the event to avoid the embarrassment of having a less-than-full stadium. Democrats,
including Pennsylvania party chairman Jim Burn, bristle at that charge.
"It's ridiculous to suggest that it's an enthusiasm issue. People lined up around the block for those 65,000 tickets and 19,000 more
were put on a waiting list," Mr. Burn said in an interview late Wednesday.
State delegations are arranging off-site watch parties for ticketholders from their states whose tickets won't be honored, and
the Obama campaign is encouraging others to host house parties.
"I hope that you have just a wonderful time with each other. It won't be as big a crowd and it will be less fanfare and so forth than it
would have been in a football stadium, but the spirit – that's the spirit that's in everybody's living rooms and small towns and big
cities and suburbs all across the country," Mr. Obama said on the conference call.
"That's what got us here in the first place. That's what's going to keep us going and allow us to accomplish all the things we need to do
to strengthen the middle class."