Obama sworn in ahead of festivities

Public ceremony marking start of second term will be held Monday



WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term Sunday in a small private ceremony at the White House.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administered the oath to the 44th president in the company of only a few family members.

Obama will participate in the public swearing-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Monday, following the lead of his predecessors whose first day in office fell on a Sunday.

Obama begins his second four-year term with ambitions to overhaul the nation’s tax code, rewrite immigration laws, tighten gun regulations and combat global warming.

But he faces a fractured political climate as he confronts such challenges as boosting a lagging economy and winding down the war in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, there was little fanfare or acknowledgement of the daunting tasks that lay ahead-at the brief ceremony.

There were no speeches, no parades, no balls.

Obama, wearing a suit and blue tie, was joined by his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Sasha, 11, and Malia, 14, just before noon in the small, oval-shaped Blue Room on the first floor that boasts views of the Washington Monument. Obama’s half-sister and Michelle Obama’s brother were also in attendance.

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States so help me God,” Obama recited.

As he uttered the words, Obama placed his left hand on a bible held by his wife and used by the first lady’s grandmother, LaVaughn Delores Robinson, the first African-American woman manager of the bookstore at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Afterward, he hugged his wife and children. “I did it,” he said to his youngest daughter.

Obama followed presidential precedent in choosing the chief justice — a man he did not support for the Supreme Court and who, in 2009, botched the oath, requiring a do-over the next day.

A small group of reporters and photographers was present in the room to witness the proceedings. Millions of people worldwide watched on television or on the Internet. It is the seventh time that Inauguration Day has fallen on a Sunday, and the first since Ronald Reagan’s second term began in 1985.

Nearly four hours earlier Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in for a second term at his official residence, the U.S. Naval Observatory, by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The ceremony was moved up so Sotomayor could attend a book-signing in New York.

“I want to explain to you what a wonderful honor it was, and how much out of her way the justice had to go. She is due in New York. She has to leave right now,” Biden said after taking the oath. “So I apologize: We’re gonna walk out. Her car’s waiting so she can catch a train I hope I haven’t caused her to miss.”

Biden’s wife, Jill, children and grandchildren gathered for the brief ceremony. About 120 family members and friends attended.

The crowd included a smattering of elected officials from states that would be important if Biden decides to run for president in 2016, including Maggie Hassan, the governor of New Hampshire, which hosts the nation’s first presidential primary. Other guests included Reps. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

“I’ve known Joe Biden for over 25 years and to witness his private swearing-in with his friends, close friends and family, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, I don’t think it gets any better,” Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said.