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Obama Looks to Bridge Political Divide With Second Inaugural

Second Term Oath President Obama takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts on Sunday. Pool Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Reuters.

The Morning Line

Nearly one day into the official start of his second term, President Obama Monday will stand again before the nation to deliver a sweeping overview of how he hopes the next four years will play out.

Administration aides say it will not be a policy address, but instead will aim to recapture a feeling of unity for a politically divided nation.

Top Obama adviser David Plouffe said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the White House views the inaugural address and the State of the Union as a package.

Monday, Mr. Obama “is going to say that our political system does not require us to resolve all of our differences or settle all of our disputes, but it is absolutely imperative that our leaders try and seek common ground when it can and should exist,” Plouffe said.

At a gala celebration Sunday night, the president told his top supporters he believed they had come together for a “common project” that was about more than his candidacy but more about the nation’s values for this moment and in the future:

All of you here understood and were committed to the basic notion that when we put our shoulders to the wheel of history, it moves. It moves. It moves forward. And that’s part of what we celebrate when we come together for inauguration.

As required by the Constitution, Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were sworn in Sunday in private ceremonies. You can see the president take the oath of office here or below.

The NewsHour did a curtain raiser on the inaugural festivities Friday night. Watch that here or below:


The NewsHour has you covered no matter where you’ll be watching the day’s events, from inauguration bingo to a round up of our analysis dating back to President Carter’s inaugural address.

Our team is out and about in the city, including at different points on the National Mall. Follow us through Twitter here.

Friday night Jeffrey Brown talked with the inaugural poet Richard Bianco. You can follow the activities of college student reporters in town for a NewsHour project through their InaugBlog, and if you’re visiting Washington, check out Christina’s quick tour of fun places to eat:

Watch our livestream throughout the day here or below:

Video streaming by Ustream

For a look back at the president’s first inauguration, you can find the NewsHour’s coverage of that day here. Be sure to click on Gwen’s report from the Mall that featured voices from around the country who came to witness the historic event.

People traveling from around the country for the Inauguration Day ceremonies have high expectations when it comes to substance and symbolism, pomp and pageantry.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who is responsible for organizing the festivities, has made sure they will get what they are looking for.

As the nation’s first black president opens his second term on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the invocation will be delivered by famed civil rights activist Myrlie Evans-Williams, who was previously the chairwoman of the NAACP. Other gestures toward inclusivity include two Cuban immigrants who will address the nation, a poem by Richard Blanco and the Benediction to be delivered by Reverend Luis Leon, who also gave the Benediction at George W. Bush’s 2005 inaugural ceremony.

For anyone who is anticipating some big-name performers to go along with the day’s symbolism and political theater, there will also be musical appearances by James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce. For those willing to brave more than three hours of the cold, all of this will be followed by the inaugural parade, with the Bidens, Obamas and almost 60 different groups on assorted floats and vehicles.

Here’s a rough outline of Monday’s schedule. The program begins at 11:30 a.m. EST.

The U.S. Marine Band

P.S. 22, Staten Island in N.Y., and Lee University Festival Choir, Cleveland, Tenn.

Schumer’s call to order and welcoming remarks.

Invocation: Myrlie Evers-Williams

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Oath of office administered to Vice President Biden by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor

James Taylor performs

Oath of office administered to President Obama by Chief Justice John Roberts

Mr. Obama delivers inaugural address

Kelly Clarkson performs

Poem by Richard Blanco

Benediction by the Rev. Luis Leon of St. John’s Church, Washington

Beyoncé performs the National Anthem

Following the inauguration, the Obamas and Bidens will participate in a parade featuring floats and vehicles representing about 60 groups. Viewing stands and bleachers are lined along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Monday night, the president is expected to visit the two official inaugural balls.


House Republicans came away from their retreat last Friday with a proposal to raise the country’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit and tie a longer-term extension to Senate passage of a budget this year. If either the House or Senate fails to approve a spending blueprint by April 15, then the members in that chamber would have their paychecks withheld.

The House GOP has dubbed the proposal “no budget, no pay,” but some Republican lawmakers, including House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa of California, have said it is unconstitutional.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney welcomed the development, but warned again that the president refuses to have the debt ceiling attached to broader negotiations over spending cuts.

“The President has made clear that Congress has only two options: pay the bills they have racked up, or fail to do so and put our nation into default,” Carney said in a statement. “We are encouraged that there are signs that Congressional Republicans may back off their insistence on holding our economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and programs middle class families depend on. Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay.”

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., issued a statement saying he stood “in strong support” of the plan. “Since taking the majority, House Republicans have done their job. We’ve passed a budget that promotes economic growth and gets spending under control. But for nearly four years, Senate Democrats have refused to pass a budget. Today’s agreement will hold the Senate accountable for this legal and moral failure,” Ryan said.

Senate Democrats pledged Sunday they would produce a budget this year, but that House Republicans might not like some of the provisions in it.

“We’re going to do a budget this year,” Schumer said Sunday on NBC. “And it’s going to have revenues in it. And our Republican colleagues better get used to that fact.”


  • The New York Times’ Jodi Kantor looked at how four years have dramatically changed the president and first lady.
  • The Washington Post’s Eli Saslow used Fremont, Ohio to set his story examining the deeply divided nation and what that might mean for the next four years.
  • Biden told environmentalists to “keep the faith” for a second term.
  • Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted on corruption charges Friday.
  • Sunlight Foundation uses this infographic to show how lawmakers from both parties are total flip-floppers on the debt ceiling.
  • Former Sen. Rick Santorum launched a “Hagel No” campaign Friday, kicking off the effort with a television spot targeting his one-time colleague as an enemy of Israel.
  • In a new video released Friday, Mr. Obama says he is honored to be re-elected in the same year as the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
  • The Washington Post rounds up the 10 most famous inaugural addresses.
  • More members of Congress than ever before are on the Twitter.
  • Actress Ashley Judd is in Washington, and not committing fully yet to challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky next fall.
  • Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, is running for the open Congressional seat in South Carolina vacated by Sen. Tim Scott.
  • The picture for the 2014 gubernatorial race in Massachusetts is getting clearer.
  • Caption this!
  • Bo Obama (or a dog that looks alot like him?) hosted an Indoguration Party, complete with iPod mini DJ and disco ball, and a solar power advocacy group made a video.
  • The Biden ebook autobiography by The Onion is out. Opening line: “Hombre, you’ve just done Uncle Joe a real solid buying this book.” Here’s fake Biden’s AMA chat.
  • NPR has changed its policy for referring to the president on second reference. No more “Mr. Obama,” just “Obama.”
  • Today’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA is inauguration-focused. Did you know Thomas Jefferson was the first president to take the oath at a still-incomplete U.S. Capitol in 1801?


  • Mark Shields and David Brooks, who will be on the NewsHour’s special inauguration coverage Monday, talked about gun control efforts and the debt ceiling standoff Friday night. Watch here or below.






James Hercher, Cassie M. Chew and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

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