Mother Nature must be apolitical.
The threat of Hurricane Isaac curtailed last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa. Wednesday, the prospect of severe thunderstorms prompted Democrats to move Thursday night's outdoor stadium speech by President Obama indoors.
The move to Time Warner Cable Arena, the Democratic National Convention's main site, will make tickets to the must-see event - at least among party members - difficult to nab. Bank of America stadium, home to football's Carolina Panthers, seats nearly 74,000. The arena: just 20,200.
Organizers have been warily watching the weather all week. Their worst case scenario was a last-minute cancellation that would strand tens of thousands of people, many of whom had planned to arrive by the busload and would have no place to go.
Republicans, lambasted by a series of Democratic speakers Tuesday night, pounced on the site switch, accusing the party of downgrading the stadium event to indoor arena because it couldn't fill all the seats.
"After promising to hold the event at Bank of America stadium rain or shine, suddenly Team Obama is moving inside after questions about enthusiasm for the event," said Kirsten Kukowski, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. "What's the real forecast for the speech? Forty percent chance of lies and scattered excuses."
But Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said after poring over five weather forecasts that all predicted severe weather, holding the event outdoors became a public safety issue. "No doubt we were going to fill (the stadium). We had 19,000 on the wait list."
Obama narrowly won North Carolina in 2008, and the state again is among several key battleground states.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the decision to move the president's speech indoors would not impact his efforts to win North Carolina, and expects him to make a return trip before the election.
"Whether it rains or not is not in the president's control," Pelosi said. "We're talking about something other than being wet. It could be a danger."
It has rained here daily since Saturday, with downpours Monday and Tuesday.
College students and members from churches around the region were to be bused into the stadium event. Some were disappointed that they wouldn't be able to see Obama live. "It's pretty upsetting,'' said Lindsey Rietkerk, a 20-year-old junior at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The school's Tar Heels for Obama group had planned on busing in 150 people. They'll have a watch party instead.
Reggie McCrimmon, student body president at North Carolina Central University in Durham, said he understands weather concerns. The school had organized about 100 students.
"Mother Nature has had her way with both conventions,'' said McCrimmon, 21, a political science major. I don't know if that's symbolic, or if there's any message there."
Both Rietkerk and McCrimmon said they had no doubt the cavernous Bank of America stadium would be filled.
Jan Bauer, a delegate from Ames, Iowa, said she was thrilled about the move "because it's not very comfortable sitting in the rain."
Anticipation among delegates was building for Wednesday night's speech by former president Bill Clinton, scheduled to appear sometime after 10 p.m ET.
Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama, who closed opening night ceremonies with a moving personal speech about her husband and the middle class, spent Wednesday morning trying to fire up two key members of the Democratic base: African Americans and Hispanics.
In remarks before both the African American Caucus and Hispanic Caucus, she said both minority groups would be crucial to the November election.
"We don't have a single minute to waste," said Obama, who joked she was a bit sleepy after her prime-time address, which ended at about 11 p.m. "We're going to need every single one of you out there."
Janice Haynes Davis, president of the National Federation of Democratic Women, relished the first lady's speech.
"When she turned around to leave the only thing I could think was; 'She nailed it,' " said Davis, 65. "The thing that really caught me was her sincerity. It was a very global, very inclusive speech that mentioned every segment of life of being a mom and a woman. What really came through is that she cared about people in every segment of the country, people without a voice."