US President Barack Obama takes the oath of office as first lady Michelle Obama holds a bible during the official swearing-in ceremony at the White House in Washington. REUTERS/Doug Mills/Pool
President Barack Obama has taken the official oath for his
second term at the White House in a small, private ceremony
that set a more subdued tone compared to the historic start
of his presidency four years ago.
Gathered with his family in the Blue Room on the White
House's ceremonial main floor, Obama put his hand on a Bible
and recited the 35-word oath that was read to him by US Chief
Justice John Roberts.
Obama hugged his wife Michelle and said, "Thank you," after
she congratulated him at the swearing-in.
Obama, who became the first African-American US president
four years ago, will be sworn in publicly for his second term
on Monday (local time) in a much bigger ceremony before an
audience of as many as 800,000 people outside the US Capitol.
Sunday's ceremony was needed because the US Constitution
mandates that the president take office on January 20.
Planners opted to go with a private ceremony on the actual
date and then hold the symbolic inaugural activities the next
Obama will have been sworn in four times, two for each term,
putting him equal to Franklin Roosevelt, who served four
terms. A second swearing-in was needed in 2009 when Roberts
flubbed the first one.
Obama, who won a second term on November 7 by defeating
Republican Mitt Romney, opens round two facing many of the
same problems that dogged his first term: persistently high
unemployment, crushing debt and a deep partisan divide over
how to solve the issues.
This has taken some of the euphoria out of Obama's second
inauguration, but he got a boost at a rousing service at
Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown
Washington where he and his wife Michelle, who is sporting a
new hair style featuring bangs, clapped and swayed to gospel
"Forward, forward," shouted Pastor Ronald Braxton to his
congregation, echoing an Obama election campaign slogan.
Early Sunday morning, Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in
by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, making her the
first Hispanic judge to administer an oath of office for one
of the nation's two highest offices.
Obama and Biden then joined forces to lay a wreath of flowers
at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in
a solemn remembrance of those killed in the line of duty.