At least 7,000 from S.C. out of luck as Democrats move Obamas speech inside
CHARLOTTE — Seven thousand or more South Carolinians hoping to witness history firsthand tonight were saddened to learn Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s speech has been moved indoors.
The decision to shift venues from the Bank of America football stadium to the Time Warner Cable Arena was based on a forecast of severe weather and related safety concerns. It means about 65,000 fewer people will be able to see Obama speak in person.
“That’s disappointing,” Charleston County Democratic Chairman and delegate Richard Hricik said as soon as he learned the news. “It’s difficult they’re not going to be able to experience that in person.”
South Carolina Democrats said they were allotted about 7,000 of the 65,000 seats and think as many as a few thousand more in the audience also would have come from the Palmetto State.
Delegates were told of the possibility of the venue change Tuesday, saying the campaign was scrutinizing the weather.
As confirmation of the venue change spread Wednesday around the hotel where the South Carolina delegation is staying, some still were encouraging people to come to Charlotte for the speech, in part to counter a widespread rumor that the Obama camp scrapped the football stadium plan for fear of empty seats.
Democratic officials have denied that claim, noting that 15,000 were on a waiting list for community credentials.
Michael Allen of Charleston and his wife, Latanya, made the trip here Wednesday even after the news broke. “We’ll find out when we get there what we can get into,” he said. “We at least can come up and be in the atmosphere. You only live once.”
Convention CEO Steve Kerrigan said Obama will speak with those holding community credentials via a national conference call today.
He said he also would work with the campaign to invite the 65,000 to a future event with Obama before Nov. 6.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.