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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine