US prepares for Obama's second big day out
The 44th president’s reinauguration is set to be more low key than the 2009 event
By the time Barack Obama stands before hundreds of thousands of people today to take the oath of office on the west steps of the Capitol Building in the United States capital, he will officially be 24 hours into his second presidential term.
Presidents must by order of the 20th amendment to the US constitution be sworn in by noon on January 20th.
That date fell yesterday, a Sunday, when courts and federal offices are closed, thus preventing the public ceremony from being held.
To avoid the US being leaderless for a day, Obama was re-sworn as president in a low-key event at noon yesterday. The ceremonial reinauguration takes place today.
At noon Obama will repeat the oath he took in the White House’s Blue Room, the seventh time a president has taken the public oath on a Monday.
It will be the fourth and final time Obama, the 44th president, has sworn the oath.
Four years ago he had to recite the pledge again in private after chief justice John Roberts garbled the oath in the public ceremony, making Obama fluff the 35-word promise. Only Franklin D Roosevelt has taken the presidential oath four times, but for four terms, before presidential terms were limited to two four-year periods.
To mark Martin Luther King jnr Day, Obama will be sworn in using King’s “travelling Bible” as well as the Bible on which he was sworn in four years ago, the one used by president Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration on March 4th, 1861.
Vice-president Joe Biden will be sworn again on a Bible that has been in his family since 1893. The Bible is “five inches thick” and has “a Celtic cross on the cover”, according to the inauguration organisers, the presidential inaugural committee.
Obama’s second inauguration, the 57th since George Washington’s in 1789, is less festive than the party that marked the 2009 swearing-in of the first US black president after an historic election won on promises of change.
An estimated 1.8 million people attended then but fewer than half that number are expected this time.
The public authorities in Washington have lowered the expected number of attendees on the National Mall to between 500,000 and 700,000 – down from an original estimate of about 800,000.
Smaller crowds typically show up for a sitting president’s reinauguration, but twice as many are expected today as attended attended George W Bush’s second inauguration in 2005.