Crowds swell for 2nd Obama inauguration
By Stephen Collinson ,AFPWASHINGTON -- Excited crowds poured into downtown Washington on Monday for Barack Obama's second inauguration as U.S. president, anchored on a call for America to unite despite ugly political divides.
January 22, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Barack Hussein Obama will raise his right hand and place his left on Bibles once owned by Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln and swear the oath of office before mustering for four years threatened by strife at home and abroad.
The 44th U.S. president, and the first African American to hold the office, launched his second term with a private swearing-in ceremony on Sunday, before basking in the full pomp of his office with public celebrations Monday.
Obama will set the rhetorical tone for the remainder of his presidency with an inaugural address to a crowd expected to reach half a million, will headline a parade and then waltz with the first lady at glittering inaugural balls.
Bundled-up Obama supporters trekked into town to join snaking lines for Secret Service checkpoints guarding the entry to a steel-fenced secure zone around the White House and the inaugural parade route.
Armored military vehicles and parked buses blocked major roads, as part of a tight security vice which included air and river exclusion zones, road closures and a heavy presence of police and National Guard reserve troops.
The white domed U.S. Capitol building, draped with huge Stars and Stripes, where Obama was set to take the oath of office at just before 1700 GMT, was etched against the dark pre-dawn sky with spotlights.
Temperatures were forecast for a relatively comfortable upper 30 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celcius), much warmer than the bitter chill that has had crowds shivering at some previous inaugurations.
Though the mood was festive, as revelers crammed into coffee shops and subway trains heading downtown, Obama's second inauguration lacks the sense of historic promise and hope that greeted his first term in 2009.
His political brand has been damaged by an exhausting first term battling the worst economic storm in decades and brutal partisan warfare with his Republican rivals, notably over taxes and spending.
Yet Obama, 51, has a legacy to defend, including a historic health care law and a retrenchment from draining wars abroad, and he is vowing to make good on the promise of a fairer economy, which anchored his re-election win.
He signaled late Sunday, at a reception for supporters, that he would dwell on the “common good” and the “goodness, the resilience, neighborliness, the patriotism,” of Americans in his address.