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.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing