Obama starts second term in White House ceremony
By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama took the official oath for his second term on Sunday at the White House in a small, private ceremony that set a more subdued tone compared to the historic start of his presidency four years ago.
Gathered with his family in the Blue Room on the White House's ceremonial main floor, Obama put his hand on a family Bible and recited the 35-word oath that was read out loud by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.
"I did it," Obama said as he hugged his wife, Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia. "Thank you, sweetie," he told Michelle when she congratulated him. "Good job, Dad. You didn't mess up," 11-year-old Sasha Obama told her father.
It was a low-key start to the first African-American U.S. president's second term, which is likely to be dominated - at least at the start - by budget fights with Republicans and attempts to reform gun control and immigration laws.
Obama, 51, will be sworn in publicly on Monday outside the West Front of the Capitol overlooking the National Mall in front of as many as 800,000 people, a much bigger ceremony replete with a major address and a parade.
Downtown Washington was all but locked down with heavy security. Many streets were closed, lined with barricades. Police sirens blared. Outside the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, an elaborate presidential viewing stand encased in bullet-proof glass was set up for Obama and other VIPs to watch the parade.
Sunday's ceremony, shown live on television, was needed because the U.S. Constitution mandates that the president take office on January 20. Planners opted to go with a private ceremony on the actual date and then hold the ceremonial inaugural activities the next day.
By Monday, Obama will have been sworn in four times, two for each term, putting him equal to Franklin Roosevelt, who won four terms. A second Obama swearing-in was deemed necessary in 2009 when Roberts flubbed the first one. On Sunday, Roberts read the oath carefully from a card and there were no mistakes. Continued...