Downsized, but fired up, Obama set for big moment

Approaching storms force President indoors to launch make-or-break bid for second term

Charlotte

Barack Obama will tonight attempt to catch the lightning released by his wife at the Democratic Convention 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 convention’s choreographers 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-seater 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 Mrs 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, conceded. “It was excellent and did nearly everything she needed it to do,” said Jonah Goldberg of the National Review.

On Tuesday, Mrs 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 Mrs Obama’s testimony was the perfect start, said Jill Reed, 48, a Kansas delegate, but Barack 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,” she offered. “But there is no doubt he will be able to find the words and give the examples he needs to and tell us the story as to where we are going to go next.”

Ms Reed agreed that having to abandon the stadium was “very disappointing”. The venue downgrade means that around 50,000 fewer people will be on hand to watch Mr Obama and Vice President Joe Biden accept their nominations. In turn, it will make for a less impressive spectacle for the millions who will be watching from home on their TVs.

But it prompted sarcastic criticism from Republicans who saw an opportunity to divert attention from the plaudits for Michelle. Noting that forecasters saw only a 30 per cent chance of bad weather tonight, they tweeted, scribbled and broadcast in unison that the Democrats were taking Mr Obama out of the stadium for fear he couldn’t fill it. Never mind the embarrassing Clint Eastwood ‘empty seat’ sketch; the Democrats were in ‘empty seat’ retreat.

“Can’t they afford a Farmers’ Almanac? All you have to do, and planning goes on a year in advance, is look at the weather patterns,” Brad Blakeman, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, said on Fox News. “They didn’t have a reliable base to add 70,000 seats, so weather became the convenient excuse.”

Mr Obama, who watched his wife’s speech from the White House with their two daughters on television, was due here late last night. The first lady meanwhile continued her convention duties speaking in the morning to a gathering of African-American delegates. In slightly subdued tones, she warned them that the fate of her husband would hinge on turn-out and getting his black supporters to the polls would matter the most.

“We don't have a single minute to waste,” the first lady said, noting that in 2008 her husband won Florida by just 230,000 voters or 36 votes per precinct in the state. “Starting from the moment you get out of this seat, we need you to go out and find your 36 people.”

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits