Obama lays out vision as he is sworn in for second term
President Barack Obama laid out his vision for the next four years in a wide-ranging inaugural speech that called for political compromise, healthcare and immigration reform, equal social and economic rights, and agreement on fiscal policies.
The 44th US president told the American people to “seize” the moment as he took the oath of office at a public ceremony on the steps of the Capitol at the start of his second presidential term.
“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience,” said the President at the country’s 57th inauguration since 1789.
“A decade of war is now ending,” he said to the loudest cheer of his 18-minute, 2,095-word speech.
“An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive, diversity and openness, an endless capacity for risk and a gift for re-invention.
“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”
He took the oath of office in a public ceremony a day after being sworn in for a second term, meeting a constitutional requirement that he take office by noon on January 20th. That date fell yesterday, pushing the public ceremony back to today.
As his ceremonial re-inauguration fell on Martin Luther King Jnr Day, Mr Obama was sworn in on bibles owned by the civil rights leader and by US president Abraham Lincoln.
The president made his address before former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, US political leaders, and an estimated 700,000 supporters gathered on the National Mall running across the centre of Washington.
The number was less than the 1.8 million people who turned out for Obama’s first inauguration in January 2009 after he made history by being elected the first black US president on promises of hope and change.
Today's attendance was still larger than the estimated 300,000 that saw the second inauguration of George W Bush in 2005.
Mr Obama’s speech, which was slightly shorter and more pragmatic than his first inaugural address four years ago, made an historic first mention of gay rights in an inaugural address.