CHARLOTTE, N.C. President Barack Obama apologized Thursday to the thousands of people who had hoped to see his acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium, but said he knew enthusiasm was not going to be an issue in the rest of the campaign based on his experience at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“We know it's disappointing,” Obama said in roughly 10 minute remarks on a conference call with the people no longer able to attend. “All I can tell you is how much I appreciate all that you’ve done.”
The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that Thursday’s convention activity would move to Time Warner Cable Arena for fear of severe thunderstorms.
That meant the 65,000 people who had signed up for “community credentials” for Bank of America Stadium would no longer be able to attend Obama’s acceptance speech.
People who had waited in line to get those credentials said they were disappointed they would not be able to be part of history, as many put it.
Republicans responded by saying the switch was to “avoid the embarrassment of speaking to an empty stadium,” an emailed statement from a Republican National Committee spokesman said.
But Obama said the night would have been “standing room only,” but if thunderstorms had rolled in it would have been too difficult to safely exit the stadium.
“I could not ask you, volunteers, law enforcement, and first responders to subject themselves to the risk of severe thunderstorms,” he said.
Obama and his campaign national field director Jeremy Bird encouraged volunteers to still catch the speech at watch parties. Bird said that volunteers had organized 6,243 such events around the country.
Obama also said that campaign organizers would reach out to them and try to get them access to events in the future.
"I'm proud of you,” Obama said. “And I will be seeing you in your home states sometime soon.”
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