The final night of the Democratic National Convention has been moved indoors, away from Bank of America Stadium and into the Time Warner Center, where last night’s speeches were housed.
From the beginning, Democrats heard criticism about the President accepting the nomination in a stadium named for one of the most notorious mega-banks in America, one which received tens of billions in bailout money. But replicating the acceptance speech of 2008 in football stadium has several points of appeal. It afforded an organizing opportunity for non-delegates in the city, an important part of a swing state. Four years ago in Denver, community members got in after vowing to take part in some grassroots activities, and there was actually live phone banking at the event. Perhaps more important, Bank of America Stadium simply has more luxury suites and skyboxes than the Time Warner Center, allowing for more big-money donors to participate.
But there have been thunderstorms virtually every day in Charlotte during the convention, and that was the forecast for Thursday as well. There’s no roof on BofA Stadium, and the thought of a soggy speech didn’t thrill anyone at the DNC. So it will move back indoors for the final night.
In addition, the campaign reportedly had trouble filling all the seats at BofA Stadium, which houses 77,000. A half-empty stadium would have been terrible for optics, and I assume it proved hard to entice people out to sit in the rain. I received an email yesterday from the DCCC offering to fly supporters out to the final night, not in exchange for a campaign donation, but just by signing up to an email list. There was a hint of desperation in that.
The CEO of the organizing committee for the DNC implicitly denied this in a statement. Steve Kerrigan said that “The energy and enthusiasm for our convention in Charlotte has been overwhelming and we share the disappointment of over 65,000 people who signed up for community credentials to be there with the President in person. We encourage our community credential holders and Americans across the country to continue to come together with their friends and neighbors to watch and participate in history. The President will speak to these credential holders on a national conference call tomorrow afternoon, and we will work with the campaign to ensure that those unable to attend tomorrow’s event will be invited to see the President between now and election day.”
All told, this probably works out better for Democrats. The pomp and circumstance of an outdoor acceptance speech has already been singled out by Republicans for criticism, and though they haven’t picked up on the fact of Bank of America stadium, plenty of others have. So you lose that taint while returning to a venue that, as last night showed, can get plenty loud.
It would be better if the President directed his Attorney General to hand out a criminal indictment for Bank of America in addition to ditching the stadium that bears their name, but I don’t want to engage in fantasy role-playing.