State News

Obama speaks by phone after plane problems knock out N.C. visit

Posted July 7, 2008 4:32 a.m. EDT
Updated July 7, 2008 2:44 p.m. EDT

— Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday had to cancel a campaign stop in North Carolina after a mechanical problem forced his Charlotte-bound plane to put down in St. Louis, and he spoke to supporters by phone instead.

Campaign staff worked out a telephone link, and Obama spoke to his supporters at a Charlotte middle school about an hour after he had been scheduled to appear. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kay Hagan spoke to the group while technicians scrambled to set up the audio link.

Obama had planned to speak  to discuss his plans to help families hurt by the economic slowdown, his campaign said.

He also plans to visit Georgia and Virginia this week as part of a weeklong effort to campaign in states President Bush won in 2000 and 2004.

Bush won 56 percent of the vote in North Carolina in both elections. Obama says it "would be pretty foolish" not to try to win such states.

Mechanics worked for several hours on the plane, but they were unable to get it back in the air in time to get the candidate to Charlotte.

In another development Monday, the Democratic National Committee announced that Obama will accept the Democratic presidential nomination at Invesco Field at Mile High, a 76,000-seat stadium home to the Denver Broncos.

The party's convention will be held Aug. 25-28 at Denver's Pepsi Center, which holds up to 21,000 people. Construction for the convention was beginning at the Pepsi Center Monday amid concerns about lagging fundraising and cost overruns.

Last month, the convention's host committee reported it was nearly $12 million short of the $40.6 million it had pledged to raise for the effort. Host committee members spoke openly of needing the Obama campaign's help to close the gap.

The decision to move Obama's acceptance speech to the giant football stadium was expected to boost fundraising, convention organizer Jenny Backus said.