Democrats pick stadium for Obama's acceptance speech

McClatchy NewspapersJuly 7, 2008 

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama, whose ability to deliver a soaring speech is considered so unrivaled among the current crop of American politicians that it became an issue in the primary campaign, will head for a bigger stage next month when he formally accepts the Democratic presidential nomination — he'll deliver his acceptance speech at Denver's 76,000-seat football stadium.

Democratic officials said they decided to move the speech from the city's 21,000-seat basketball arena, where the convention's first three nights will be held, to the football stadium to lend the speech a greater sense of history. Obama, the first black presidential candidate of a major American political party, will deliver his acceptance speech on Aug. 28, the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech," which is considered one of the seminal moments of the civil rights movement.

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said the speech was being moved to INVESCO Field at Mile High in downtown Denver because of the "excitement and interest" Obama has generated. INVESCO is the home field for the National Football League’s Denver Broncos.

"This is very much in keeping with Senator Obama’s philosophy," Dean said. "This convention is meant to be opened up to the American people. Senator Obama does not look at this as his convention. He looks at this as America’s convention."

The decision to move the final night of the party's convention to the stadium marks a departure from recent years, when officials of both parties have preferred indoor locations because they generate more noise and are more TV-friendly — with fewer vacant seats visible to viewers at home.

But generating a crowd apparently is not one of the concerns Democratic officials have. Obama generated huge crowds at many of his primary campaign stops, including an afternoon rally in Oregon in May attended by more than 70,000. Officials didn't specify who besides convention delegates would be invited to witness Obama's acceptance speech, but said that at least some tickets would be distributed to Denver residents.

Republican presumptive nominee John McCain, whose speaking skills are generally compared unfavorably to Obama's, isn't expected to try to match the Obama move when he gives his acceptance speech in St. Paul, Minn., on Sept. 4.

"Well, look," McCain adviser Carly Fiorina said Monday, "John McCain is not going into a stadium and talk to 70,000 people, you all know that. It's not his personality."

Fiorina cast the Obama venue change as another example of the differences between the two candidates — and not in Obama's favor.

"With all due respect to Barack Obama's considerable oratory skills, and they are considerable, it isn't much of a dialogue to have a speech in a stadium with 70,000 people," she said. "John McCain is at his best when people actually get to ask him a question, and he actually has to answer it and then they have to follow up."

William Douglas contributed to this report.

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