President takes oath, prelude to Monday’s public swearing-in and festivities
BY NATASHA KORECKI Political Reporter Twitter: @natashakorecki January 20, 2013 6:46PM
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chief Justice John Roberts after Obama was officially sworn-in in the Blue Room of the White House during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, as first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha watch. (AP Photo/Larry Downing, Pool)
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Updated: February 22, 2013 6:29AM
WASHINGTON — With his wife and two daughters beside him, President Barack Obama placed his hand on a Bible and took his oath of office for the second time on Sunday, marking the beginning of his encore as the 44th president of the United States.
The intimate gathering inside the White House’s Blue Room was a prelude to Monday’s events, where U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will again administer the oath, this time publicly. Unlike four years ago, Roberts did not flub the oath, this time, reading it from a card.
“Congratulations, Mr. President,” Roberts said afterward.
“Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice,” Obama replied. “Thank you so much.”
Obama kissed First Lady Michelle Obama, whom he called “Sweetie.” He told his daughters, Sasha and Malia: “I did it.”
Sasha replied: “You didn’t mess up.”
A president must be sworn in to his new term by Jan. 20. Tradition though, is the public event does not take place on a Sunday, which is why a second swearing-in as well as Obama’s inaugural address and parade will happen on Monday.
Though Sunday’s event went off with little fanfare, it marked a second chapter for a man who made history in 2008 by being elected the first African-American president of the United States.
While his 2009 inauguration drew record-breaking crowds, the excitement in Washington is tempered this time. Crowds are so far thinner with planners expecting 500,000 to 700,000 this year compared to an estimated 1.8 million in 2009.
Hotel rooms downtown were available as recently as last week.
Obama’s second term begins in the backdrop of a dim reality. Millions of Americans are still out of work. Gridlock in Washington almost had the nation go off a so-called “fiscal cliff” as the nation’s debt soars. U.S. Rep Tammy Duckworth, who was in Washington for Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 as well as this weekend, said one could feel the difference.
“I think that there was a euphoria then, and I think now there is more of a level of determination, like we gotta get some work done,” she said. “I really think there’s a sense of determined action. There’s a sense of things to be done, and this is our shot to do it, and we gotta do it in the next four years.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) called the festivities “the calm before the storm.”
“Reality comes Tuesday. We have a one-day reprieve.” Quigley said Congress must tackle economic issues, gun violence and immigration reform, among other issues. “The agenda is extensive, unfortunately this government tends to only get to a few things.”
Quigley was optimistic about the economy, saying the country is recovering, slowly, and job growth is inching up. “We are in way better shape than we were. It’s a joyous occasion, it’s a chance for the president to give us a vision of where we’re headed.”
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin readily acknowledged the change of tenor from 2009 to this weekend. “Of course it’s different,” Durbin said. But that didn’t take away from Obama’s re-election, he said.
“It’s a special moment in history,” said Durbin. “My great friend and former colleague has run an extraordinary campaign. I think the message in his campaign is what we need [for] America and hope that’s what his inaugural address will do. . . . But it is still one of the few events in history that you can really witness and be part of, it makes such a dramatic difference, not only for the United States but for the world.”