Obama sworn in at low-key White House ceremony
Updated: 2013-01-21 03:08
Inaugural address is centerpiece
US President Barack Obama hugs his wife Michelle (2nd L), as their daughters Malia (2nd R) and Sasha (R) look on, after taking the official oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at the White House in Washington, DC January 20, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Obama's Inauguration Day speech will set the tone for the start of his second term and gives him a chance to lay out his vision on where he would like to lead the country. He has been drafting the speech on yellow legal pads and working with his speechwriters.
After his tumultuous first term during which he achieved an overhaul of the US healthcare system, his second term opens in the midst of a feud with congressional Republicans over taxes and spending.
His top policy goals for the first year, so far, include tightening gun regulations in response to the massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school a month ago. Obama is also seeking an overhaul of immigration laws and tax reform.
Abroad, he is facing a challenge from a resurgence of Islamist extremists in North Africa exemplified by the recent hostage-taking that turned deadly at an oil facility in Algeria. He is also winding down the war in Afghanistan and dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Obama will save specific policy proposals for his annual State of the Union speech before Congress on Feb. 12.
In his inaugural address, Obama is expected to talk about the need for political compromise where possible, a reminder of the intense battles in his first term that led to paralysis and dysfunction in Washington.
"It'd be great if the inauguration were a unifying moment - though I honestly can't say it will be. But just maybe for a day they can bury the hatchet and celebrate an important day for American democracy," said Brian Hurley, 57, a local salesman, as he guided an out-of-town visitor outside the White House gates. With the public ceremony falling on the national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Obama will also have a chance to draw historic parallels. While taking the oath on Monday, he will place his left hand on two Bibles - one once owned by Abraham Lincoln and other by King.
The Obamas will attend two official inaugural balls - compared to the 10 that were held in 2009.