All Mattie Coleman wanted was to see President Barack Obama speak in person. To do so, she waited for hours on line to win tickets to his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
But a not-so-simple change of venue resulted in Coleman, along with hundreds of other ticket winners, being barred from the president's speech.
"I was more hurt than mad," Coleman, a 69-year-old retired schoolteacher from Atlanta, Georgia told RTTNews. "I think this will hurt the president some. He will lose some votes. Not mine. But he will lose some."
The day before the closing of the convention, the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) announced the venue for the acceptance speech would be changed from the Bank of America stadium to the Time Warner Arena, a much smaller location.
Possible bad weather and safety of attendees was cited for the change. Republicans claimed the change was made because Democrats couldn't deliver on a promise to full the entire stadium for the president's speech.
Regardless of the reasoning behind the change, the result was all those who had won tickets the week before the convention were barred from the smaller arena, already filled to capacity with delegates, alternates and press.
Coleman came up from Atlanta with her fellow former schoolteacher Lillie Middlebrook, 70. The two took the four-hour Megabus trip after they won tickets to Obama's Thursday night speech in a giveaway just over a week ago.
The DeKalb Democratic Party sent out a message to Obama supporters a week before the convention announcing a special giveaway to around 200 lucky Democrats. The giveaways took place at Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta and the Bibb County Democratic Party office in Macon, Georgia.
Coleman and Middlebrook were two of the lucky winners, or so they thought. They said their tickets to the stadium speech became void and they weren't even allowed access into the arena. They viewed the speech at a watch-party even hosted at a restaurant/lodge near their hotel in Concord, about 30 minutes north of Charlotte.
Those who were denied entry to the event received special invitations to a conference call with the president, in which he apologizes for the change.
"I know it's especially disappointing for a lot of you who worked hard to get your tickets to the event, or traveled or planned to travel a long way at your own expense to be here. So all I can tell you is how much I appreciate everything that you've done," Obama said during the call.
"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," Obama added.
Regardless of the outcome, however, the two friends and former educators said they did not regret making the trip.
"I got to see Michelle [Obama] at the women's caucus yesterday," Coleman told RTTNews early Thursday morning, who added she should have known something was going to go wrong with the tickets after she bragged to friends about the trip.
"I should have kept my mouth shut!" Coleman laughed.
"I had a great time," Middlebrook added, saying she had to remind Coleman to remain calm and trust in the Lord's plan.
"It's true," Coleman chuckled. "She did have to remind me. I'm glad we came. I had a good time in the end, too."
by RTT Staff Writer
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