CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Monday evening, at a swank, black-tie gathering of the Georgia delegation, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Convention insisted that under no circumstances would President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech be shifted out of the Carolina Panthers football stadium where 70,000 would hear it.
And then the second deluge of the day arrived, flooding convention planners with doubt. More rain fell Monday on Charlotte than was brought to Tampa by Hurricane Isaac during an entire week.
“We’re watching the forecast closely. We do have a contingency plan. We would remain in the arena – in the event of severe weather,” a DNC spokeswoman – who wasn’t willing to let her name be used — said this morning.
For convention planners, “severe” means lightning or high winds – not just rain. We’re told that Democrats will resist every effort to move Obama’s acceptance speech – and Biden’s, too — back into the convention hall.
Among the factors:
– While today’s forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of downpours, on Thursday the chances drop to 20 percent;
– While Mitt Romney leads in the most recent polls in North Carolina, Democrats have not conceded the state, and have used the convention as a lure for volunteers who will be needed in November. Nine hours of door-knocking or phone-calling earned volunteers a free ticket to the Bank Of America stadium event. So far, 6,000 have been handed out – and shutting the doors on them would be poor policy.
– Obama is suffering from an enthusiasm gap. And there’s nothing like the televised image of a stadium full of screaming fans to help bridge that gap.
Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Mike Berlon this morning had words of fashion advice for delegates in Charlotte, according to my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:
Today and Wednesday’s events will typically require the broadly interpreted “business attire,” but that does not extend to Thursday.
On the final day of the convention, when President Barack Obama will accept the nomination outside at Bank of America stadium, things will be different.
“Dress to survive,” Berlon said. “If the sun is out, we could be on the field for three or four hours. It could be over 100 degrees on the field.”
To one delegate who brought a donkey suit to wear, Berlon warned her to leave it in the hotel.
“Don’t wear the donkey suit,” he said. “The last thing I need is a photo of me dragging a donkey off the field. It’s the cutest suit ever. But it’s just a bad photo up.”
Democratic spokespeople who weren’t willing to put their names behind their comments this morning walked through tonight’s convention program with reporters. The evening will close with an address first lady Michelle Obama – who will be performing a task similar to the one assigned Ann Romney in Tampa. She’ll be asked to present her husband as a human being. A few notes:
– Michelle Obama will be introduced by the mother of several children now in the armed forces, to highlight the first lady’s efforts on behalf of veterans.
– President Obama, who’s making his last pre-convention stop in Norfolk, Va., today, will make no appearance after the first lady’s speech.
– Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, who followed Mitt Romney as governor, will attempt to undercut the GOP presidential nominee’s record in that state.
– Former Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio will highlight Obama’s claims of having saved the U.S. auto industry.
– Rahm Emanuel, former White House chief of staff and now mayor of Chicago, will emphasize the economy that Obama inherited.
Twitter Government reports that the most re-Tweeted message of the Republican National Convention was the “this chair’s taken” message sent by President Barack Obama.
Democrats this morning released the platform that delegates will vote on today. Click here to read it. This is the passage that most starkly divides the two parties:
We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.
We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
The Georgia delegation’s hotel is less than a mile from one of Charlotte’s shiny new light rail stations, my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin reports:
The trains deposit delegates just steps away from the entrance to Time Warner Arena and the Charlotte Convention Center, two of the main hubs of this week’s work.
Georgia Democrats, no strangers to using MARTA back home, nonetheless got a bit of a surprise in their first forays on the Charlotte’s Lynx rail system. Passengers purchase a ticket from a kiosk, much like those Breeze machines MARTA uses. The difference: You don’t do anything with that ticket afterward.
There’s no turnstiles, no ticket takers. Passengers ride on the honor system. Stoaways face a $50 fine and a misdemeanor charge if a train operator or police officer asks for a ticket and one cannot be produced.
As one Charlotte resident offered when asked about the system said: “This isn’t Atlanta.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider