Thousands of South Carolinians hoping to see President Obama speak in a Charlotte’s Bank of America stadium Thursday night were disappointed after convention organizers instead moved his speech inside the much smaller Time Warner Cable arena.
Organizers said the threat of rain forced them indoors. But that move means tens of thousands of ticketholders will not get to watch the president’s speech in person.
One of them is Pat Jones. Jones, a Berkeley County Democratic Party official, is traveling with the delegation as a guest. That means she only had a “community ticket,” which allowed her to watch Obama’s speech at the stadium, but does not get her into the convention itself. She was one of an estimated 60,000 people who received the tickets.
“When I came here and it was raining, I sort of suspected that this was going to happen,” she said. She said she had feared the worst, but was still devastated to learn she was left in the lurch.
South Carolina Democratic officials spent Wednesday scrambling to get word down to the local levels. The party was planning to help bus thousands of state Democrats to watch the speech, including 200 each from Aiken and Hartsville counties.
The local parties have already paid for the buses, Jones said.
Amanda Loveday, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said the SCDP was organizing a watch party at the Columbia Convention Center on Thursday night. She said each of the county delegations who would have made the trip to Charlotte are invited there instead.
Republicans questioned if rain was really the cause of the move, suggesting that their counterparts were nervous instead that the stadium would have empty seats. The flames were flamed after a Charlotte TV station’s meteorologist said there was only a 20 percent chance of rain. “[I]t’s a simple question… if you had a #Panthers game, Concert or Soccer match with a 20% chance of storms would you cancel 24hrs prior?” Brad Panovich of WCNC tweeted shortly after the announcement.
As for Jones, she was still glad she made the trip to Charlotte. “It’s an experience for me because I can say that I attended the convention… I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren about it.”
Jones said Charlotte was her first convention. She was scheduled to attend the 2008 Democratic gathering in Denver, but got pneumonia that week.
“Now we’re hoping to make reservations for Washington D.C., in January (for the inauguration),” she said optimistically.