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Dems move convention kickoff from Charlotte Motor Speedway to downtown

By Doug Powers  •  June 26, 2012 01:25 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Some say Dems are having fundraising troubles, but unreliable sources tell me the real reason for the switch is that last month overzealous DNC officials started setting up during time trials for the Coca Cola 600 and Greg Biffle crashed into and destroyed the Greek columns.

The campaign hopes to have replacement columns in time for Obama’s acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium (unless it gets moved to the lobby of a local Bank of America branch), but the grand convention kickoff they hoped for won’t go off as originally planned:

Democrats canceled a political convention kick-off event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and will move the activities to Charlotte’s main business district, the convention’s host committee announced.

“While we regret having to move CarolinaFest away from our great partners at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the City of Concord, we are thrilled with the opportunity that comes with hosting this event in Uptown Charlotte,” said Dan Murrey, the executive director of the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee.

The move comes as party planners are grappling with a fundraising deficit of roughly $27 million, according to two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss internal party politics. With a party ban on direct contributions from corporations, the host committee has raised less than $10 million, well short of its $36.6 million goal, said one of the people.

Murrey said that logistics, not costs, were behind the decision to cancel the Speedway event.

Logistics — as in “logically speaking, if we move it downtown we can pay for security with federal funds instead of campaign funds.” Democrats (and Republicans) receive a $50 million DHS grant for convention security, but the Dems probably couldn’t have used those funds for the speedway event. Apparently endless fundraisers (only four of them today?) along with the bridal, anniversary and birthday registry still aren’t bringing in money fast enough for the campaign to cover the cost themselves.

Another concern might have been one of optics. This isn’t 2008 anymore and Dems are treading lightly through what could be a disaster zone in early September. They don’t want to kick off the convention in a place where there’s a chance the venue will appear to be more sparsely populated than Harry Reid’s budget meetings.

By the time everything gets sorted out, my best guess is that opening night of the convention will be held at Sarah Jessica Parker’s apartment.

**Written by Doug Powers

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Categories: 2012 Campaign, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Media