For the second time in two weeks, the weather has forced the organizers of a major political convention to rethink. From the Associated Press:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democratic officials are moving President Barack Obama’s convention speech Thursday indoors because of the possibility of severe weather.
Obama had planned to accept his party’s nomination in an outdoor football stadium before a crowd of up to 74,000 people. But Obama officials said forecasters have predicted severe thunderstorms Thursday in the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. hour, raising concerns about the safety of supporters, volunteers, staff members and law enforcement.
Officials said Thursday’s entire program would be moved indoors, including Vice President Joe Biden’s speech. The events will be held at the Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of the first two days of the convention proceedings.
The move will significantly reduce the number of people Obama will speak to in person. The setup in the arena can accommodate 21,000 people.
Democrats were warily watching the weather all week. Their worst case scenario was a last-minute cancellation that would strand tens of thousands of people, many of whom had planned to arrive by the busload in the middle of the storm with no place to go.
Obama’s team, locked in a tight race with Republican Mitt Romney in this Southern battleground state, determined that wasn’t worth the political risk.
Democrats were also worried about the possibility of anti-Obama hecklers acquiring some of the free tickets to the event and disrupting the president’s speech. The move indoors limits that possibility because most of those in the crowd will be official convention participants.
Republicans, who canceled the first day of their own convention because of the storm that would ultimately become Hurricane Isaac, immediately accused Democrats of avoiding the spectacle of an empty stadium.
But the best argument against that GOP taunt is an eyewitness view of Time Warner Cable Arena, designated as the site for the first two days of the Democratic meeting – and which now will be the venue for the third.
The size of the arena reminds one of the old Omni, which housed the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson this morning rallied Georgia Democrats to be certain that “we are better off” today than when President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, reports my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:
“Those whose voter rights are threatened by purging and suppression, with the Justice Department intervening, they’re better off,” Jackson said.
Jackson credited Obama with growing jobs, bringing troops home from Iraq and making the world a safer place.
“Those who are afraid of Osama bin Laden, he’s a ghost now,” Jackson said. “We’re better off.”
There is, however, unfinished business, Jackson said.
“No one has earned the right to do less than their best,” the civil rights leader said. “We must challenge our constituency and hold their hopes, and not their fears.”
At their morning delegation breakfast, Georgia Democrats also heard from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA standout.
Jackson split quickly, citing a busy schedule — which means there was no time to ask him about the health of his son, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who is undergoing treatment for bipolar disease.
When Democrat delegates in Charlotte approved their party’s national platform, one of the most enthusiastic votes cast came from Reese McCranie, who is gay and today celebrates his eighth wedding anniversary. It is also worth noting the fact that McCranie is a spokesman for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who has been under pressure to endorse marriage equality since President Barack Obama did so in May.
Reece declined to talk about the mayor, but did say that the platform inclusion showed that Democrats view gays and lesbians as productive and valuable members of society whose relationships ought not be criminalized. “I think that’s a big moment,” McCranie said.
Back home, the Georgia Tipsheet reports that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has scheduled an ATM visit to Georgia:
Local fundraising aides to the former Massachusetts governor sent invitations this week to a September 19 luncheon and photo opportunity at the Atlanta Marriot Marquis.
The per-plate cost of the luncheon was set at $1,000, according to an invite provided to Tipsheet, though donors must contribute at least $10,000 for the grip-and-grin.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider