Washington: President Barack Obama took the oath of office on Sunday surrounded by close friends and advisers in a small ceremony at the White House that officially begins his second term in office.
Chief justice John Roberts administered the oath at 11.55am with the president using first lady Michelle Obama’s family bible. Sunday was the constitutionally required date for the US president to assume office. Because 20 January fell on a Sunday, Obama will repeat the ritual on Monday and deliver his inaugural address at the US Capitol before a crowd of thousands gathered on the National Mall.
Vice-president Joe Biden was sworn in earlier in the day at a similar ceremony at the vice presidential residence by supreme court justice Sonya Sotomayor, the first Hispanic on the court and the first to administer the oath. Obama, 51, the nation’s first black president, has presided over an economy that is still recovering from the worst recession in a generation. While the world’s largest economy grew at a 3.1% rate in the third quarter, this year will bring growth of just 2%, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Over the next two months, his administration will engage in a fiscal debate with Republican lawmakers who hold the majority in the US House over raising the government’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit, steps to shrink the deficit and funding federal operations.
As part of Sunday’s ceremonies, the president and Biden laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Obama and his family also attended services at historic Metropolitan African Methodist Church in Washington.
Monday’s public inauguration ceremony coincides with the federal holiday marking the birth of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Roberts will again administer the oath while using King’s traveling bible and President Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural bible, the same one Obama used for his swearing in four years ago.
Obama started four days of events tied to the inaugural on Saturday by volunteering with his wife and daughters on a renovation project at a Washington elementary school. As he did four years ago, Obama called for a National Day of Service on the eve of his inauguration, saying volunteerism represents the democratic ideals upon which the country was founded.
“This is really what America’s about, this is what we celebrate,” Obama said to volunteers, after helping paint a bookshelf at the school in Northeast Washington. Sunday was the second time Obama has been sworn in as president by Roberts in a small White House ceremony. Four years ago, the chief justice administered the oath of office again on 21 January after misstating a line the day before. The Constitution requires presidents to take the following oath: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Roberts said execute the office of president of the United States faithfully and Obama followed suit.
The next day in the Map Room, Roberts asked the president if he was ready to be sworn in. Obama replied: I am and we are going to do it very slowly. Bloomberg