Obama prepares to deliver crucial stump speech


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The Independent Online

Barack Obama will tonight attempt to catch the lightning released by his wife at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte on Tuesday with his own make-or-break speech that will cast his rival, Mitt Romney, as out of touch with the pains and aspirations of ordinary Americans and offer a new vision of how he would govern in a second term.

It will not, however, be quite the monumental moment the event's planners had been hoping for. The fear of real electrical charges – thunderstorms set to roll through the Charlotte area – means Mr Obama will no longer be speaking as planned in the 74,000-seat outdoor American football stadium but in the much more modest indoor Time Warner Centre that has been the venue so far.

But it will take more than rain to dampen the mood of the delegates who yesterday basked in the afterglow of the first-night speech of Michelle Obama that drew tip-top reviews even from quarters normally hostile to the Democrats. "A total knockout," John Podhoretz, the conservative pundit on the New York Post, said.

On Tuesday, Ms Obama offered delegates an account, vivid if occasionally syrupy, of her love affair with her husband that served to portray him as a leader sensitive to the hurdles of Main Street because he has faced them himself. That is what makes him determined to bring about change to help, for instance, on healthcare, she said. "For Barack, these issues aren't political, they're personal."

It was up to former President Bill Clinton, who was given top billing last night, and to Mr Obama himself tonight to capitalise on the energy already coursing through the convention floor. The personal nature of Ms Obama's testimony was the perfect start, Jill Reed, 48, a Kansas delegate, said. But Mr Obama must take it up a notch. "Because he is the President he will have to be a little more detailed and give us a vision of exactly where and how he is going to take us for the next four years, for our tomorrow."

Ms Reed agreed that having to abandon the stadium was "very disappointing". The change means that around 50,000 fewer people will be on hand to watch Mr Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden accept their nominations.

Barack Obama, who watched his wife's speech on TV from the White House with their two daughters, was due to arrive in Charlotte late last night.