CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Democratic officials are moving President Barack Obama's convention speech Thursday indoors because of the possibility of severe weather.
Obama had planned to accept his party's nomination in an outdoor football stadium before a crowd of up to 74,000 people. But Obama officials said forecasters have predicted severe thunderstorms Thursday in the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. hour, raising concerns about the safety of supporters, volunteers, staff members and law enforcement.
Officials said Thursday's entire program would be moved indoors, including Vice President Joe Biden's speech. The events will be held at the Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of the first two days of the convention proceedings.
The move will significantly reduce the number of people Obama will speak to in person. The set-up in the arena can accommodate 21,000 people.
Democrats were 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 in the middle of the storm with no place to go.
Obama's team, locked in a tight race with Republican Mitt Romney in this Southern battleground state, determined that wasn't worth the political risk.
Democrats were also worried about the possibility of anti-Obama hecklers acquiring some of the free tickets to the event and disrupting the president's speech. The move indoors limits that possibility because most of those in the crowd will be official convention participants.
Governor O'Malley urges support for Obama
Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is urging Democratic Party activists to get fully behind Obama in the next two months.
O'Malley is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and is considered a likely 2016 presidential contender.
He spoke Wednesday morning at a breakfast with Iowa delegates at the Democratic National Convention.
O'Malley says delegates "saw America" in the diverse crowd on the convention floor Tuesday night.
He says the party rejects tea party Republicans "who run on the promise of restoring our economy and then they get into office, they do it by rolling back individual freedoms."
He says the party has 60 days to ensure that Obama is reelected and the country can realize its "greatest promise."