WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) – President Barack Obama’s second term officially got underway Sunday.
As CBS News’ Danielle Nottingham reported, President Obama wrapped up the first day of his second term at a candlelight celebration at the National Building Museum in Washington Sunday night.
Obama used a speech to hundreds of supporters to remind the crowd that “what we’re doing is celebrating each other and celebrating this incredible nation that we call home.”
He encouraged the crowd to enjoy the inauguration and said he needs them to work as hard as they can on issues important to them.
“After we celebrate, let’s make sure to work as hard as we can to pass on an America that is worthy not only of our past, but also of our future.”
Obama said the inauguration is a reminder that “there is something bigger than ourselves.” He kept his comments brief and quipped that he has to save some of his lines for his speech at the inauguration ceremony Monday.
Earlier, just before noon, President Obama took the oath of office Sunday in an intimate swearing-in ceremony at the White House, the leader of a nation that, while no longer in the throes of the recession he inherited four years ago, remains deeply divided.
The president, surrounded by family in the ornate White House Blue Room, was administered the oath by Chief Justice John Roberts. With Obama’s hand resting on a Bible used for years by Michelle Obama’s family, the president vowed “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” echoing the same words spoken by the 43 men who held the office before him.
“I did it,” Obama whispered to his youngest daughter, Sasha, as he wrapped her in a hug moments later.
The president said the oath in just minutes before noon on Jan. 20, the time at which the Constitution says new presidential terms begin. There was little pomp and circumstance Sunday – Obama walked into the room flanked by his family and exited almost immediately after finishing the oath.
He’ll repeat the swearing-in ritual again Monday on the west front of the Capitol before a crowd of up to 800,000 people.
Only about a dozen family members were on hand to witness Sunday’s swearing in, including the first lady, daughters Malia and Sasha, the president’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her family. Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, and the first lady’s brother, Craig Robinson, and his family were also on hand, along with a few reporters and photographers.
Yet the mood in the nation’s capital was more subdued during this year’s inaugural festivities than it was four years ago, when Obama swept into office on a wave of national optimism, becoming the first African-American to hold the nation’s highest office. Since then, he has endured fiscal fights with Congress and a bruising re-election campaign — and has the gray hair and lower approval ratings to show for it.
Ahead of his swearing-in Sunday, Obama, along with Vice President Joe Biden, solemnly honored the nation’s fallen soldiers during a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. On a crisp, sun-splashed morning, Obama and Biden placed a large wreath adorned with red, white and blue ribbon, in front of Arlington’s Tomb of the Unknowns. Holding their hands over their hearts, the two leaders stood motionless as a bugler played “Taps.”
From Arlington, Obama joined his family at a church service celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. The president’s public swearing-in on Monday coincides with the national holiday marking the fallen civil rights leader’s birthday, and Obama has invoked King’s memory throughout the lead-up to the inauguration.
The Rev. Jonathan V. Newton, an assistant pastor at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, prayed for God to prepare Obama for battle, “because sometimes enemies insist on doing it the hard way.”
Vice President Joe Biden was also formally sworn in for a second four-year term in office earlier Sunday.
Bronx-born Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor conducted the private swearing-in ceremony.
The Constitution dictates that the presidential and vice presidential inauguration be held on Jan. 20, though the public inauguration and all the parties are slated for Monday.
Among the 120 guests on hand to witness the vice president’s second swearing-in were Attorney General Eric Holder, departing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and several Democratic lawmakers.
For one weekend at least, Washington was putting politics aside. Obama called the nation’s inaugural traditions “a symbol of how our democracy works and how we peacefully transfer power.”
“But it should also be an affirmation that we’re all in this together,” he said Saturday, as he opened a weekend of inaugural activities at a Washington elementary school.
Meanwhile Sunday, thousands of security officers were getting ready, and miles of fencing was already up for the crowds expected on the National Mall. <a href="http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/01/17/sandy-victims-from-long-island-get-inauguration-tickets-from-schumer/"Washington city officials expected as many as 700,000 people — fewer than earlier estimates.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who famously flubbed the oath of office that Obama took in 2009, was to swear the president in both days.
Ricky Courtney, 7, of Detroit, was looking forward to just one thing as he awaited the ceremony.
“I’m excited about seeing President Obama,” he said.
His father, Lavell Courtney, was hopeful that Obama will have a productive second term.
“I think he will be able to bridge the gap and reach across the aisle, and get some business accomplished,” he said.
Once the celebrations are over, Obama will plunge into a second-term agenda still dominated by the economy, which slowly churned out of recession during his first four years in office. The president will also try to cement his legacy with sweeping domestic changes, pledging to achieve both an immigration overhaul and stricter gun laws despite opposition from a divided Congress.
The president planned to save his most expansive remarks for Monday’s inaugural address to the crowd gathered on the Mall and millions more watching across the country and the world. Obama started working on the speech in early December and was still tinkering with it into the weekend, aides said.
The president’s address will set the stage for the policy objectives he seeks to achieve in his second term, including speeding up the economic recovery, passing comprehensive immigration and gun control measures and ending the war in Afghanistan. Aides said Obama would save the specifics of those agenda items for his Feb. 12 State of the Union address.
The president launched a weekend of inaugural activities Saturday by heading up a National Day of Service. Along with his family, Obama helped hundreds of volunteers spruce up a Washington area elementary school.
Obama wore rubber gloves, picked up a paint brush and helped volunteers stain a bookshelf.
Obama added the service event to the inaugural schedule in 2009 and is hoping it becomes a tradition followed for future presidents.
Mrs. Obama, speaking to volunteers Sunday, espoused the importance of giving back in the midst of the weekend of pomp, circumstance and celebration.
“The reason why we’re here, why we’re standing here, why we’re able to celebrate this weekend is because a lot of people worked hard and supported us, and we’ve got a job to do and this is a symbol of the kind of work that we need to be doing the next four years,” Michelle Obama said at Burrville Elementary.
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