Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Thousands Of Shut-Outs Watch Obama Speech On TV


It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Speaking to the Democratic Convention last night, President Obama spoke a line that played off a famous speech by John F. Kennedy. Kennedy said people should ask what they can do for their country.

INSKEEP: President Obama's line last night went: America is not about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us together. What the president is asking America to do now is to give him four more years in office.

MONTAGNE: The president's speech came at the end of a convention that generated wide enthusiasm among Democrats. It will take a few days, at least, to learn what the wider public thinks. Public perceptions will immediately be shaped by ongoing news, as the latest unemployment figures come out this morning.

INSKEEP: And some parts of the convention did not go as Democrats had hoped. They had a last-minute scramble, for example, to reinsert the word God in their platform.

MONTAGNE: And because of bad weather, they scrapped a plan to hold the closing speech in an outdoor football stadium and instead, put it in a smaller arena, which left many people who'd hoped to attend spending the evening at parties around the city.

NPR's David Welna stopped by a few, and has this report.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: It was only yesterday morning that 55-year-old Abinah Ajinaku learned that the ticket she had for attending the final night of the convention was no longer any good.

ABINAH AJINAKU: I'm so sad. I really - came from Georgia, and I was looking forward to this so much, to participating and just being there and the - I don't know, and the energy of it all, you know?

WELNA: In a move aimed at consoling the thousands of disappointed campaign volunteers like Ajinaku who'd come to Charlotte, President Obama spoke to them in a conference call yesterday afternoon.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My main message is we can't let a little thunder and lightning get us down. We're going to have to roll with it. And while we may not be able to be together in person, I hope you're still going to gather together at community watch parties that are happening not just here in Charlotte, but all across North Carolina, all across the rest of the country. I hope you tune in tonight, watch the speech together. Let me know what you think afterwards.

WELNA: Some of the shut-outs gathered last night just two blocks from the indoor arena where the convention was being held. MSNBC had an outdoor set with big TV screens showing Vice President Joe Biden accepting his nomination.


VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It's never been a good bet to bet against the American people.

WELNA: Among those cheering was Adelsia Braxton, who'd traveled from Annapolis, Maryland in hopes of seeing the president in person. But she professed to be happy seeing the vice president on a big screen.

ADELSIA BRAXTON: I mean, if you going to get anybody to sock it to somebody, get Joe Biden. You know, he's the best at it. I mean, I knew he was going to come out and he was really going to put it out there in a way that maybe President Obama can't because he is the president. That's what a vice president does.

WELNA: A bit later in Blackfinn, a crowded nearby bar, the president himself loomed on a big screen.


OBAMA: Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call us in the morning.

WELNA: Kevin Kasperszik, a Charlotte resident, liked the president's sarcasm.

KEVIN KASPERSZIK: It's funny. I mean, obviously you have to interject a little humor. I mean, I think these political campaigns can get, you know, pretty serious and pretty mean and pretty vicious. So, you know, I think taking those points and putting a little humor behind it is always good.

WELNA: There were other moments in the president's acceptance speech that moved the watch party at the bar.


OBAMA: Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry or control healthcare choices that women should be making for themselves.

WELNA: One of the women whooping their approval was Jennifer Edenbach, who works for a software company outside Charlotte.

JENNIFER EDENBACH: I feel as though, like, now is the time for women to speak for themselves, and it's really nice to know that there's a political party that backs it.

WELNA: For Ritash Kurat, a registered independent who says he's still undecided, the president's speech seemed to make an impact.

RITASH KURAT: I definitely have a much better idea of what he is going to do, as opposed to a bunch of rhetoric coming from the other candidate. So I am more inclined right now, but I will have to see through to the debates. I'm going to watch the debates more closely.

WELNA: And quite possibly at a watch party like the one last night.

David Welna, NPR News, Charlotte. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.