Confident Obama lays out battle plan as he launches second term
By Matt Spetalnick and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A confident President Barack Obama kicked off his second term on Monday with an impassioned call for a more inclusive America that rejects partisan rancor and embraces immigration reform, gay rights and the fight against climate change.
Obama's ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol was filled with traditional pomp and pageantry, but it was a scaled-back inauguration compared to the historic start of his presidency in 2009 when he swept into office on a mantle of hope and change as America's first black president.
Despite expectations tempered by lingering economic weakness and a divided Washington, Obama delivered a preview of the priorities he intends to pursue - essentially, a reaffirmation of core liberal Democratic causes - declaring Americans "are made for this moment" and must "seize it together."
His hair visibly gray after four years in office, Obama called for an end to the political partisanship that marked much of his first term in the White House in bitter fights over the economy with Republicans.
"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said from atop the Capitol steps overlooking the National Mall.
Looking out on a sea of flags, Obama addressed a crowd estimated to be up to 700,000 people - less than half the record 1.8 million who assembled four years ago.
Speaking in more specific terms than is customary in an inaugural address, he promised "hard choices" to reduce the federal deficit without shredding the social safety net and called for a revamping of the tax code and a remaking of government.
The Democrat arrived at his second inauguration on solid footing, with his poll numbers up, Republicans on the defensive and his first-term record boasting accomplishments such as a U.S. healthcare overhaul, ending the war in Iraq and the killing of Osama bin Laden. Continued...