CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tens of thousands of the most loyal Democratic activists won't get to watch President Barack Obama's big convention speech on Thursday, after organizers decided to move the stadium event indoors into a smaller venue due to predictions of severe thunderstorms. To make up for it, the president held a conference call with the shut-out convention-goers to apologize and encourage them to stay engaged.
"I just want to begin by saying how much I regret that we're not all gathering together in one place to deliver my acceptance speech tonight," Obama told individuals on the call who had credentials for Bank of America stadium but won't be able to get into the new venue, Time Warner Cable Arena.
"My main message is we can't get a little thunder and lightning get us down," he said, "we're going to have to roll with it."
The president said the decision to move the speech was made because of the "safety issue" holding it outdoors would pose, not only for attendees, but also for the first responders, law enforcement and individuals working at the venue.
"I know it's disappointing," he added. "I've got to tell you, I saw some of my key staff who had come down here and they've literally been working nonstop for months just getting the logistics of this all put together. Obviously they were a little bit crestfallen, and I know it's especially disappointing to for a lot of you who worked hard to get your tickets to the event and traveled or planned to travel at your own expense to be here."
The Obama campaign is instead organizing watch parties around Charlotte so that shut-out supporters will be able to gather and watch the big event on Thursday night -- albeit not in person.
Bank of America Stadium holds about 75,000 people, compared to the 20,000 who can fit in the Time Warner Cable Arena.
There's no doubt that many volunteers and supporters were incredibly disappointed when they heard the bad news on Wednesday.
"I'm so mad at this point that I don't want to do anything," Vickey Price, 49, told The Huffington Post outside the convention center on Wednesday. Price traveled from Raleigh, N.C. after she earned her ticket through the Obama campaign's 9-3-1 volunteer program. Supporters in North Carolina had to volunteer nine hours, in three shifts, for the chance to win one ticket. (UPDATE: A friend of Price's told The Huffington Post that she eventually made it into the stadium for the speech.)
"It made me want to rethink my vote just because I was told one thing, and I get here, and there's something else," Price added. "To me, don't do that to the American people, who will do their best to put you in office. You just have to be careful when you disappoint such a huge crowd."
Other would-be attendees, while also disappointed, were a bit more forgiving.
"Shit happens," said Rosalind Harris, 62, from Denver, Colo.
Glencile Greenlea, 56, from Montgomery, Ala., said the trip was still well worth the time and money because of all the people she had met while in Charlotte.
On Thursday morning, the AFL-CIO announced that it was giving up the 26 passes it had into the arena so that other convention-goers would be able to get in to see Obama's speech.
While speaking with supporters, Obama said he was excited about how the convention was going so far.
"Michelle -- what can I say. I'm a little biased, but she was unbelievable," he said, referring to the First Lady's speech that brought the house down on the first night of the convention.
He said that former President Bill Clinton "broke down the issues as effectively as anybody could" and called San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro "an incredible talent."
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