During the buildout of the Xcel Center convention floor, director Mike Miller insisted that the GOP would not reconstruct the stage for John McCain’s speech, but leave it in its original configuration. Either someone made an eleventh-hour shift, or director Mike Miller likes playing coy. The RNCC announced changes to the floor late last night, and I took some video of the new design this morning:

The podium used for the first three nights of the convention was modified to enable John McCain to deliver his acceptance speech from the center of the Xcel Energy Center. The new podium is a reflection of the town-hall style that has been a hallmark of McCain’s campaign. In the new forum, he will be surrounded by the delegates that nominated him the night before.

The new podium was constructed by removing the front corner sections of the existing platform and extending its midsection by 30 feet. The extension will be eight feet wide. Near the conclusion of tonight’s program, Sen. McCain will address the convention from a lectern positioned near the end of this newly-constructed extension. To accommodate the modified platform, delegates from the state of Ohio will be re-seated on either side.

I suspect that these changes have always been in the works, but it’s possible that they put them in place after the Barackopolis speech a week ago. Rather than having the optics of descending from Mount Olympus to tell us all what we should think, McCain wants to appear one of the people, engaging them on a personal basis. They have lowered the stage some from last night and extended the middle section farther towards the delegations. That will ensure that almost every photo of McCain puts him in close proximity to the delegates, and not on a Greek temple pedestal.

Towards the end, I have a shot of the balloons in the ceiling ready to drop at the conclusion of McCain’s speech. Miller bragged, with tongue firmly in cheek, that Republicans know how to do balloons. We’ll see whether his streak runs to ten later tonight.