President Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday has been moved indoors, to a smaller venue, due to a thunderstorm forecast. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Democrats' decision to relocate their final convention night's festivities indoors due to weather worries, prompted a new storm of logistical questions, political concerns and disappointment from some of their most loyal supporters.
And Republicans giddily pounced, suggesting that the weather-related explanation was just a mere cover for a decision motivated by low enthusiasm among voters in this key swing state.
Officials said the decision to relocate tomorrow's events -- set outdoors at Bank of America stadium -- was made this morning, based on weather reports that show a high likelihood of severe conditions particularly during prime-time hours.
The move means that 65,000 holders of "community credentials" should not expect to attend tomorrow night's events, according to senior Democratic officials. Existing credentials will be honored for the 21,000 attendees who hold them for Tuesday-Wednesday events in Time Warner Cable Arena.
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Those "community" ticketholders, many of whom volunteered for the campaign for the chance to see Obama's speech in person, will instead be invited to a conference call tomorrow afternoon with the president.
Convention organizers called the move "a public safety decision" designed to avoid a scenario in which thousands of attendees -- as well as law enforcement officials, convention volunteers, and scores of reporters -- were endangered by dangerous high winds or lightning.
But Republicans immediately seized on the relocation, with the RNC labeling the move as "a downgrade" due to "lack of enthusiasm" within minutes of the press release formalizing the venue change.
"Is the reason really weather, or is it because they were concerned about packing the place out? And I think the latter is probably the reason," said Wayne King, the vice chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, told NBC News after the decision was made.
Republicans have delighted in any sign that enthusiasm for President Barack Obama has waned here, starting with Democrats' earlier cancelation of a planned opening event for the convention on Monday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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Democratic aides pushed back at those claims, insisting that Bank of America stadium would have been filled to capacity had the event gone forward as planned.
"We would have turned people away," said DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse, who added that organizers had a waiting list of 19,000 hopeful attendees in addition to the 65,000 who had "activated" their credential after applying for one through the campaign.
David Goldman / AP
Democrats gather in Charlotte, N.C., to officially nominate President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as the party's candidates for the 2012 presidential election.
Pointing out that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz praised Republicans for amending their own convention schedule due to weather and safety issues, Woodhouse slammed Republicans' failure to do the same when the tables were turned.
"It's really unseemly," he said.
While no major changes to the program itself are expected at this time, one other question remains unanswered for enthusiasts of a political convention's most colorful visual display.
Asked if the new venue will accommodate a balloon drop, one aide said only "I guess that will just have to be a surprise."
NBC's Jamie Novogrod contributed reporting.