By Jennifer Epstein
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Barack Obama acknowledged to supporters Thursday that it's "disappointing" that he won't be able to address them in the Bank of America Stadium here because of a weather forecast that includes thunderstorms.
"I regret that we're not all gathering in one place to deliver my acceptance speech tonight," he said on a conference call for the 65,000 people who had been given tickets to hear him accept the Democratic presidential nomination. But, he said, "I could not ask you, our volunteers, our law enforcement, first responders to subject themselves to the risks of severe thunderstorms."
The weather forecast for Thursday night includes likely thunderstorms a few hours before Obama is set to speak, and the decision to move the speech indoors, to the much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena, was announced on Wednesday morning.
"We can't let a little thunder and lightning get us down," Obama said on his call. "We're going to have to roll with it."
The decision to move the speech indoors spurred some critics to say that the Obama campaign knew it couldn't fill the stadium and was looking for any excuse to move the event to the arena, but field director Jeremy Bird said the campaign had distributed tickets to 65,000 community members and had another 19,000 on a waitlist for credentials.
Obama acknowledged that ticketholders are "disappointed" and said he was, too, and that the staffers who planned the stadium event are "crestfallen" about the change. He encouraged them to go to watch parties in Charlotte or wherever they are.
Obama didn't say much about the speech he will deliver on Thursday night, though he did say he hopes that by the time the contention ends, "people will say that we accomplished what we needed to and delivered our vision for the country."
At a background press conference held here Thursday, a Democratic official said the president will "lay out the choice for the American people, really bring it into focus for the American people." The president was still working on his speech Thursday afternoon, "fine tuning" it for delivery, the official said. He spent some time in the morning with first lady Michelle Obama and has spent much of the day working on his speech with aides. He won't be doing a walk-through in the arena before delivering his speech.
On his call, Obama also offered some praise for some of the people who spoke at the first and second nights of the convention. "Michelle? What can I say? I'm a little biased, but she was unbelievable," he said of the first lady's Tuesday night finale. On Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton "broke down the issues as effectively as anybody could." Keynote speaker Julian Castro, the president said, is "just an incredible talent."
Jennifer Epstein is a reporter for POLITICO.com. POLITICO and ABC News 4 have partnered for the 2012 presidential campaign cycle.