President Barack Obama's acceptance speech Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., is switching venues, as organizers cited safety concerns. The party said forecasts of rough weather led it to shift the last day of the gathering from the 65,000-seat Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena, which only fits 20,000 people.
The move to a smaller venue will whittle down the number of attendees for the speech, cutting out 45,000 folks who had hoped to see the president accept his party's nomination in person.
"We have been monitoring weather forecasts closely and several reports predict thunderstorms in the area," said Steve Kerrigan, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, in a statement.
Local meteorologist Brad Panovich scorned the severe weather excuse, telling the Washington Post the chance of severe thunderstorms was low.
Non-delegates who were slated to watch the speech may have to participate in a conference call Thursday with the president instead, and perhaps a second event will be put on for those left out in the rain.
"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," Kerrigan said.
Republicans said low attendance, and not Mother Nature, was the true cause for the relocation.
"Problems filling the seats?" asked Republican Party spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, according to USA Today.
Obama brushed aside questions about the convention's location.
"My main goal is not to worry about the logistics of the convention," he told NBC12 of Richmond, Va. "My main goal is to communicate to the American people how we can move forward."
Obama set a high-water mark for over-the-top convention galas in 2008, when he accepted the Democratic nomination at Denver's INVESCO Field, which seats 84,000.
Barring the meteorological excuse, the plummet in attendance figures within four years plays into Republican assertions that the winds of voter excitement are no longer at the incumbent's back.
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