Republicans, who shortened their convention thanks to Hurricane Isaac, aren't the only ones thwarted by bad weather. Democrats announced Wednesday that they were moving President Obama's Thursday acceptance speech from an open-air football stadium into the (much smaller) convention hall, due to risk of thunderstorms. The Obama campaign had been working for months to ensure a stadium crowd of at least 65,000, comparable to the 80,000 who heard their candidate speak at Denver's Mile High Stadium four years ago at the peak of Obama-mania. On hearing of the venue switch, GOP skeptics suggested the Obama camp was really just afraid they couldn't fill the stadium. Democrats scoff at the speculation, saying they had 65,000 people who'd gone through the trouble of activating the credentials needed to attend and had 19,000 names on a waiting list. Was the decision to move inside just a sensible safety precaution, or was it damage control?
This is a disaster for Obama: Don't blame the weather, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. There's only a 30 percent chance of rain in Charlotte Thursday night, and the forecast is improving. The problem is that Obama has lost his "2008 magic," and his staff finally sees that our incredible shrinking president can no longer fill a stadium. "The symbolism is rotten" for Obama, seeing that this confirms the GOP charge that he isn't "living up to expectations (even his own!)."
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Actually, Obama dodged a potential mess: Obama hardly "has to prove that he can wow a big crowd," says Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast. What he needs to do is deliver his convention's tightly scripted message to the delegates and, more importantly, to millions of TV viewers. A massive downpour in the middle of his acceptance "would have been one helluva unscripted moment." It has rained every day since the Democrats got to Charlotte — "why play Russian roulette with Mother Nature?"
"Convention speech moved inside: Rain foils Obama's plans"
Moving inside hurts, whatever the reason: It doesn't matter why the campaign moved Obama inside. It lost a "fantastic organizing opportunity," either way, says Nate Cohn at The New Republic. Obama's speech in Denver helped him energize "an army of new volunteers." Another rousing big-venue speech could have helped boost his languishing poll numbers and rekindled the enthusiasm of his grassroots team — if only in the host state of North Carolina, a key Southern swing state.
"Why did the DNC move Obama's speech inside: Weather or low-turnout?"
What matters is what Obama says, not where he says it: Like all convention news, Obama's venue change is being over-analyzed, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. Yes, it helps Team Romney argue that Obama's lousy record has turned off Americans — otherwise, why can't he draw a bigger crowd? On the other hand, the 20,000 people in the convention hall "will go absolutely bonkers" for Obama, a powerful image for his campaign. What really matters, though, "is the speech Obama gives, not where he gives it."
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