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POLITICS: White House

Obama set for second inaugural on Monday

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Photo - WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama listens as First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the Inaugural Reception at the National Building Museum on January 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Obama defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Election Day 06 November 2012 to be re-elected for a second term. (Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama listens as First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the Inaugural Reception at the National Building Museum on January 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Obama defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Election Day 06 November 2012 to be re-elected for a second term. (Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)
Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Campaign 2012,Inauguration

Barack Hussein Obama, the nation's 44th president, was sworn in for a second term Sunday in a private White House ceremony, an intimate respite ahead of Monday's public kick off and the immediate fight he'll undertake to advance a sweeping domestic agenda on a divided Capitol Hill.

With his wife and children at his side in the Blue Room, Obama took the oath of office on a family Bible and effectively launched his bid for immigration reform, new gun-control laws and other initiatives even as he works to implement sweeping changes to the nation's health care system -- the signature achievement of his first term.

"When we put our shoulders to the wheel of history, it moves," Obama told supporters during an evening speech, calling his inauguration a celebration of "each other and this incredible nation we call home."

As many as 700,000 people are expected to greet the president Monday at the U.S. Capitol, where in his second inaugural address he'll trumpet his accomplishments over the last four years and turn the page on the half-way point of his historic presidency.

Obama's nascent second term is already an improvement over his first -- his swearing in went off without a hitch this time. Four years ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts famously flubbed the oath of office, forcing the pair to do it over again in private. Monday will mark the fourth time Obama took the oath of office in just two terms.

"I did it," Obama told his youngest daughter, Sasha, following the brief event Sunday.

"You didn't mess up," she said.

The Constitution requires the president to be sworn in on Jan. 20. When that date falls on a Sunday, the president is sworn in privately and again publicly on the following Monday. But outside the White House Sunday, people were already bracing for the festivities.

"I know it won't have the historical factor of last time," said Kelly Watkins, a stay-at-home mom from Denver who traveled to Washington to take in the events. "But this is a huge accomplishment for our president and a major day for our country. How could I miss it?"

Still, Obama's bruising first four years -- marked by compromise and conflict with Congress -- have tempered expectations for a president who in 2009 promised hope and change and vowed to bridge the political divide in Washington. Now, with just four years left to deliver on those expectations, Obama will focus not on a single major issue, like health care, but on a variety of domestic priorities, including the economy and the national debt.

"He is going to talk about the fact that our political system doesn't require us to resolve all of our disputes or settle all of our differences, but it does compel us to act where there should and is common ground," senior White House adviser David Plouffe said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Earlier Sunday, Vice President Biden was sworn in privately by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the Naval Observatory.

Before the president's swearing in, Obama and Biden attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday, and Obama went to Sunday services at the 175-year-old Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church.

bhughes@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner