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Obama stadium speech to go ahead 'rain or shine'

world Updated: Sep 03, 2012 22:36 IST
AFP
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President Barack Obama's make-or-break convention speech will be held at a 74,000-seater stadium on Thursday come "rain or shine," democrats insisted, as the event risked being rained out.

The prime-time address, which will help decide Obama's political fate and cap the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, risks being disrupted by thunderstorms forecast for the area.

"The event on Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium is going forward rain or shine at this point," said top convention organizer Steve Kerrigan.

The prospect of a rain-beaten Obama addressing tens of thousands of fans in the stadium and tens of millions more via television and Internet, is enough to make campaign planners blanche.

With the nation in a dour mood amid high unemployment, Obama will hope to provide a brighter outlook for voters, a task that would not be helped by the heavens opening up.

According to the National Weather Service, there is "a chance of showers and thunderstorms" on Thursday night with the likelihood of precipitation placed at about 30%.

Kerrigan indicated that the only thing that would force a change of plan would be a risk to spectators' safety.

"We are monitoring the weather, we have contingency plans," he said. "Obviously we want to make sure that everyone is safe, so we will make a decision based on that."

One option Democrats have is to move the speech to the nearby Time Warner Cable Arena, where the rest of of the convention is taking place.

But, with a roughly 20,000 seat capacity that would offer considerably fewer voters the chance to see Obama speak and would alter the big-stadium vibe that served the Democratic flag bearer so well four years ago.

Democratic delegates from across the United States are converging on Charlotte to formally nominate Barack Obama as the party's presidential candidate in November against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

National polls show the two candidates neck-and-neck, but Obama is given the edge in a majority of the key swing states.