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Obama apologizes to supporters for venue move

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In a conference call with some of the supporters shut out of his acceptance speech due to weather, President Obama expressed his regret over having to relocate the speech inside. But he urged his supporters to not let the weather concerns get them down and to “roll with it.”

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The campaign held the call as a consolation effort for the 65,000 grassroots supporters who lost their “community credentials” to the president’s speech Thursday night after it was relocated from the larger, outdoor Bank of America Stadium to the Time Warner Cable Arena due to projections of inclement weather.  “My main message is: We can’t let a little thunder and lightning get us down. We’re going to have to roll with it,” he said.  

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The latest hour-by-hour projections by Weather.com show a very strong chance of thunderstorms in Charlotte on Thursday afternoon. 

Many of these ticketholders had earned their credentials by volunteering a specific amount of hours. But the president said he and his staff could not fathom putting volunteers and other supporters in harm’s way.  “The problem was a safety issue,” he said. “It would have been a problem and we would have had a situation where we were putting you guys at risk. I know it’s disappointing,” he said.

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The president also said that he hoped to continue the momentum of the previous two nights of the convention, which he called “unbelievable, citing a few speakers in particula -- his wife Michelle, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and former President Bill Clinton. Obama said Clinton, with whom he shared an onstage hug after his speech, “broke down the issues as effectively as anybody.”  

The president also used the occasion of the call to plug voter registration efforts in North Carolina, a state whose 15 electoral votes Obama campaign is battling hard to win again in 2012. “North Carolina is Exhibit A of the unbelievable work that’s being done at the grassroots level; you guys are blowing it out when it comes to registering voters,” he said.  

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Republicans have pilloried the Democrats for moving the speech inside, saying the decision was driven not by the weather but by low voter enthusiasm that might have led to empty seats.  

But campaign manager Jim Messina pushed back on that notion before the president got on the call, telling the supporters that the evening would have been “standing room only, it would have been an amazing night but safety has to be always the No.1.”