CHARLOTTE, N.C. Robert Johnson traveled from Charlotte to Washington nearly four years ago to see President Barack Obama’s inauguration, though he had to watch the ceremony on a Jumbotron from his spot on the Lincoln Memorial.
Johnson, who says he still has warm feelings from the 2009 inauguration, said he wanted to be in the audience Sept. 6 when Obama delivers his presidential re-nomination speech at Bank of America Stadium.
That’s why he arrived at an Obama campaign office in north Charlotte at 4:30 a.m. on his birthday to try to get a chance to get credentials for the speech.
Johnson and his wife left with tickets for themselves and the couple’s daughter. “It’s a good birthday present,” said Johnson, who turned 59.
The Johnsons were among thousands of people across the Carolinas who picked up a “community credential” to hear Obama and Vice President Joe Biden speak on the final day of the Democratic National Convention. Each person was allowed two tickets.
Obama campaign organizers won’t say how many credentials were handed out Saturday, though they previously said “tens of thousands” would be available to the public. Credentials also were handed out earlier last week to thousands of people who agreed to volunteer for the campaign.
Organizers planned to make sure that anyone still in line at 8 p.m. Saturday at the dozen N.C. distribution sites would receive a credential, said Cameron French, the Obama for America campaign’s spokesman in the state.
French said any remaining tickets will be handed out starting at 10 a.m. Sunday. In Charlotte, tickets can be picked up in Suite B at 1560 West Blvd. or at 2750 E. W.T. Harris Blvd.
Both locations had at least 1,000 people in line Saturday morning before any tickets were handed out. The line at the west Charlotte location snaked around a restaurant and down two streets.
At times, campaign organizers would walk through the crowds, leading those waiting into cheers.
“When I say ‘O,’ you say ‘Bama!’ ” a campaign organizer yelled. The crowd responded with enthusiasm.
Worth the wait
Sheila Moore was the first person in line at the West Boulevard location. She got there at 9:30 p.m. Friday and camped in her car overnight.
It was worth it, she says.
“The tickets are very beautiful,” said the Charlotte woman, who grinned as she held her two tickets. “I’m just so excited; I don’t even feel tired. I’m totally rejuvenated.”
Vernell Shannonhouse of Indian Trail was first in line at the north Charlotte location. After staying overnight, she offered to help clean up at the campaign office and hand out voter registration info before taking her spot back in line.
“I love Obama,” Shannonhouse said. “I would have stayed here three weeks if that’s what it took.”
Tamala Harris and Gloria Onukwufor of Charlotte brought chairs to sit in as they waited in line in north Charlotte. Both women have seen Obama speak before, including at the inauguration and in appearances in Charlotte and Rock Hill.
They said they were confident in getting tickets to the Sept. 6 speech and also were interested in finding ways to volunteer with the Obama campaign.
The ticket distribution drew people of many different ages, races and backgrounds. Some wore T-shirts, pins or other paraphernalia for the Obama campaign or the DNC.
The diversity of the crowd drew notice from many who waited. “It’s awesome, awesome, just to see these supporters out here,” said Rayvone Motley, 50, of Charlotte. “It’s a mixture, just a rainbow of people, and it’s beautiful.”
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