ABC News’ Michael Falcone and Devin Dwyer report:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Obama campaign is facing a barrage of criticism and mockery from Republicans for scrapping plans to hold the final night of their convention at downtown Charlotte’s more than 73,000-seat Bank of America Stadium. But they’ve got a message for their detractors.
“I’ve got two words for you,” a senior Obama campaign official told ABC News, “Ford Field.”
The official was referring to Mitt Romney’s February 2012 speech before a crowd of 1,200 at Detroit’s Ford Field — a stadium that seats up to 80,000. Democrats on Wednesday circulated a now-famous photo of Romney speaking in the almost-empty venue with the tongue-in-cheek headline: “Mitt Romney’s idea of a successful stadium event….”
But earlier on Wednesday, Romney campaign aides were tweeting weather reports that indicated the threat of severe thunderstorms was virtually non-existent.
“What happened 2 rain or shine?” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote. And Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement: “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. What’s the real forecast for the speech? 40 percent chance of lies and scattered excuses.”
But Democrats were dismissing those charges on Wednesday.
“I understand why the Romney campaign is saying what they are saying,” the Obama campaign official said. “If I were them I probably would say the same thing too.”
The official added, “If we were worried about our crowd size, we certainly wouldn’t listen to Mitt Romney about how to build a crowd.”
In a briefing with ABC News reporters, the Obama campaign official cited a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms on Thursday night as the reason for the change in venue.
“If lightening struck, we would have to evacuate that stadium,” the campaign aide said, “and the thought of doing that in the middle of all that programming — we weren’t going to take a risk as high as 30 percent, we just weren’t.”
(The current Weather.com forecast for Thursday night calls for “Widely scattered showers or a thunderstorm early. Then partly cloudy. Low 69F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.”)
“65,000 people are very disappointed right now that they’re not going to be able to come see the President of the United States tomorrow night,” according to the campaign aide.
The official offered assurances that all of the supporters who will no longer be able to see President Obama accept the 2012 presidential nomination in person will “all get a personal touch from this campaign” over the next few months.