Convention Speech Moved Inside: Rain Foils Obama's Plans

The president wanted to wow the country with a speech in a big stadium. Too bad. By Howard Kurtz.

Eric Thayer, AFP / Getty Images

President Obama may have dodged a metaphorical mess.

It has rained relentlessly here in Charlotte since the Democratic convention began. Most delegates and journalists were utterly soaked on the way to the area Tuesday night, stripped of their umbrellas because they are deemed a dire security threat.

The likelihood was therefore rather high than Obama would have been pelted with precipitation as well as he delivered his Thursday night oration at Bank of America stadium. And the press would have had a field day saying that the heavens had rained on his parade and his message was all wet.For a tightly scripted convention, it would have been one helluva unscripted moment. Why play Russian roulette with Mother Nature?

By announcing Wednesday that Obama is moving his speech indoors to the Time Warner Cable Arena, the Democrats are disappointing most of the people who would have attended the stadium event. But the television audience is obviously far more important.

“We share the disappointment of over 65,000 people who signed up for community credentials to be there with the president in person,” said Steve Kerrigan, who runs the organizing committee.

So the Democratic gathering is the second convention to be bedeviled by bad weather. Tropical Storm Isaac forced the cancellation of the first night of the GOP convention in Tampa and partially overshadowed the proceedings all last week.

What would Obama have gained, really, by speaking in a stadium? He’s been there, done that, having managed the feat in Denver, where the Greek-column setup was widely mocked. We are hardly at the point in his presidency where he has to prove that he can wow a big crowd.

Scheduling an outdoor speech in North Carolina in the late-summer rainy season? Now that’s the audacity of hope. But as with much in Obama’s tenure, cool reason prevailed in the end.