CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democratic delegates tried to put on a brave face Wednesday, despite the announcement earlier in the day that their convention’s grand finale — President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech — has been moved from Bank of America Stadium to Timer Warner Cable Arena due to forecasts of severe weather.
“We have been monitoring weather forecasts closely and several reports predict thunderstorms in the area, therefore we have decided to move Thursday’s proceedings to Time Warner Cable Arena to ensure the safety and security of our delegates and convention guests,” said DNCC CEO Steve Kerrigan.
While some 65,000 supporters had been credentialed to witness the president’s speech at the football stadium Thursday, the arena only seats 21,000 — meaning that more than two-thirds of the expected live audience will now have settle for watching the proceedings on television or online.
Asked whether he believed the decision would significantly dampen the level of enthusiasm generated by the convention, Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said: “No, not at all. It was very exciting here last night for the first night of the convention, I think it’s going to be exciting tonight and tomorrow night. I don’t think that will diminish the impact of the convention at all.”
Some reactions, however, were not as optimistic. On the convention’s official website, demconvention.com, disgruntled ticket-holders posted a string of negative comments on the page that announce the move Wednesday morning. The page had been removed as of Wednesday evening, though it was not clear that it was because of the angry comments.
Inside the arena on Thursday, on the same stage where he was talked up by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton, the President Obama will make the case for his reelection in November and a rejection of the vision offered by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Listing the crises that Obama faced immediately after taking office in January 2009 — the Wall Street financial crisis, the Great Recession, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the collapse of the auto industry — Emanuel described his former boss as a chief executive with the ability to confront multiple problems simultaneously and successfully.
“Each crisis was so deep, and so dangerous, any one of them would have defined another presidency,” said Emanuel, who served as Obama’s first chief of staff in the White House. “We faced a once-in-a-generation moment in American history, and fortunately, we have a once-in-a-generation president.”
After making a surprise appearance in the arena Wednesday night, to watch Clinton’s speech in person, Obama on Thursday is expected to respond to a number of the GOP’s critiques of his first administration — including the level of government spending, the signing of health care reform legislation, and the question that seems to be on every pol’s lips these days: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
“Absolutely,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas told The Wave. “We’ve stopped the job loss, we’ve increased job growth. It may not have been as much , but we’ve cut the unemployment rate.”
“We are a better country,” she added, after noting a list of accomplishments that included the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the return of American soldiers from Iraq. “We can do better, of course, but lives of Americans are far better.”
Asked the same question, former NAACP President/CEO Kweisi Mfume said: “I am. I think most people are better off than they were four years ago and I think it’s a good question.”
“You know, Ronald Reagan asked it once before and people answered it differently. But in this case, yes,” he said.