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On First Day in Office, Obama Tackles the Economy, Iraq

On his first full day in office, President Barack Obama set to work on the top issues facing his administration including the economy and the war in Iraq and signed an executive order on ethics for White House employees. Kwame Holman reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    President Obama got down to work today on his first full day in office. His immediate priorities were the major challenges facing his presidency: the economy and the war in Iraq.

    NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has our report.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    At about 8:30 this morning, Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office for the first time as president of the United States.

    A short time later, Mr. Obama traveled to Washington National Cathedral for a multi-denominational prayer service. He was joined by the first lady, Michelle Obama, the vice president, Joe Biden, and his wife, Jill.

    Also joining them in the first row was former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, who later in the day won Senate approval to become secretary of state.

    The new president and vice president were welcomed by the dean of the cathedral, the Reverend Samuel Lloyd III.

  • REV. SAMUEL LLOYD III:

    Now the administration goes to work. This is their first full day on the job, and the best way we can imagine to begin is by praying with them and for them.

    We have given them a great deal to do.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The service included scripture readings…

  • REV. CYNTHIA HALE:

    And you shall be like a water garden, like a spring of water whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt. You shall raise up the foundations of many generations. You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    … and performances of song, including a rendition of "Amazing Grace" by singer Wintley Phipps.

  • WINTLEY PHIPPS (singing):

    Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.