Huffpost Politics

Obama DNC Speech Moved Indoors Due To Severe Weather Threat (UPDATE)

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President Barack Obama arrives for a rally at Norfolk (Va.) State University on Sept. 4, 2012. ( AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Barack Obama arrives for a rally at Norfolk (Va.) State University on Sept. 4, 2012. ( AP Photo/Steve Helber)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- President Barack Obama will not be giving his big speech on Thursday in Bank of America Stadium after all. On Wednesday, the Democratic National Convention announced a change of venue, saying the president will be addressing the nation from inside the Time Warner Cable Arena because of the chance of severe rainstorms.

"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 Steve Kerrigan, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, in a statement.

More than 65,000 people were expected to turn out for the president's open-air address at the stadium, with the campaign hoping to replicate the energy and enthusiasm that Obama generated at the 2008 convention, when he spoke outside at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

An Obama campaign official dismissed speculation that the speech venue was being changed because they were having trouble filling the stadium. "We had 19,000 people on the wait list. No doubt we were going to fill it," said the official.

The Time Warner Cable Arena seats around 20,000, meaning a significant number of people who were planning to attend the president's speech will no longer be able to do so.

It has rained every day since the Democratic convention started, often surprising and soaking convention-goers walking around outside without rain gear.

James Oh, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the Associated Press that Charlotte has a 40 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms during the day on Thursday, with a 20 to 30 percent chance on Thursday evening.

"We encourage our community credential holders and Americans across the country to continue to come together with their friends and neighbors to watch and participate in history," said Kerrigan in his statement on Wednesday. "The President will speak to these credential holders on a national conference call tomorrow afternoon, and we will work with the campaign to ensure that those unable to attend tomorrow's event will be invited to see the President between now and election day."

UPDATE: 3:40 p.m. -- Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday that the president was "disappointed" that he wouldn't be speaking at Bank of America Stadium this week.

"We're all disappointed, because we had 65,000 ticket holders plus 19,000 people who were on the waiting list, excited to hear him deliver his speech tomorrow night. So certainly he is [disappointed]," Psaki said, according to a pool report.

She said convention organizers were concerned about "putting the public safety or security of anybody in the audience at risk."

"We would have possibly had to evacuate the stadium" if thunderstorms hit, Psaki added.

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