Jan 21 2013 By Cheryl Mullin
BARACK Obama swore for a second time to “protect and defend” the US constitution at a private White House ceremony, an oath he will repeat for hundreds of thousands of people today.
The day of festivities, parades and fancy dress balls will mark the beginning of Mr Obama’s second four-year term as America’s first black president.
In a speech to hundreds of supporters at Washington DC’s National Building Museum in the early hours of today, Mr Obama said his second inauguration was a celebration of the country and its citizens, not the election results.
“What we’re doing is celebrating each other and celebrating this incredible nation that we call home,” he said.
He encouraged the crowd to enjoy the inauguration and said he needed them to work as hard as they could on issues important to them.
Mr Obama said the inauguration was a reminder that “there is something bigger than ourselves”. He kept his comments brief, quipping that he had to save some of his lines for his speech later.
The politician who rose improbably from a history as a community organiser in Chicago and a professor of constitutional law to the pinnacle of power faces a nation riven by partisan disunity, a still-weak economy and an array of challenges abroad.
Mr Obama will take the oath again before the crowd on the steps of the US Capitol and is expected to follow the recent tradition of walking at least part of the way back to the White House, surrounded by cheers.
In the briefest of ceremonies yesterday, with his family gathered in the White House, Mr Obama took the oath of office shortly before noon, as required by law. With his left hand on a family bible held by first lady Michelle Obama, the 44th president raised his right hand and repeated the time-honoured words read out by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
The intimate swearing-in met the legal requirement that presidents officially take office on January 20.