Entries in Inauguration (20)


Republicans Express Skepticism Following Obama's Address

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Given the statements made about President Obama's second inaugural address, it appears that he won't have an easy go of it with GOP lawmakers this term either.

Some prominent Republicans lawmakers criticized Obama’s inaugural address on Monday, saying he failed to reach out to their party.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, said afterwards, "This is the eighth [inauguration] that I've been to and always there's been a portion of the speech where [the president says] 'I reach out my hand because we need to work together.’  That wasn't in this speech."

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, remarked that Obama "wasn't doing the kind of outreach that he needs to do if he wants to get things accomplished in a second term."

Meanwhile, Maine Sen. Susan Collins gave the speech a mixed review, saying it sounded partisan on one hand but that she'll give the president the benefit of the doubt that he'll at least try to meet Republicans half-way.

However, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an outspoken critic of the president during his first term, sounded genuinely surprised in a good way about the address.

While he heard a few things conservatives will outright reject, Gingrich added, "95 percent of the speech, I thought, was classically American, you know, emphasizing hard work and emphasizing self-reliance, emphasizing doing things together."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Digs at ‘Name Calling,’ Partisanship

ABC NewsBy Chris Good

(WASHINGTON) -- In his inaugural address, President Obama called on Washington to act — something it hasn’t done much of lately.

His first term will be remembered for a lot of things — health-care reform and the killing of Osama bin Laden, to be sure — but also a culture of partisan intransigence in Washington and toxic, anger-driven politics beyond it.

Here’s Obama’s call to action and civility, from his speech as prepared for delivery:

    "For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name calling as reasoned debate. We must act, we must act knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall."

When President Obama took office, he entered with an agenda that included reforms to health care, energy, and education as his three main goals. He accomplished only one of them.

At the outset of his second term, it appears likely that Congress will act on immigration reform, as Republicans have signaled they intend to compromise. Democrats will push gun control as another big-ticket item, with prospects for passage unclear.

But Obama’s speech seemed aimed more directly at the culture of disagreement that has been noted by just about all the pundits who’ve been in Washington long enough to remember when times were different, not to mention the pundits who haven’t. Obama and Democrats have repeatedly criticized Republicans for the spectacle of alleged show-votes, like the House-passed bill to repeal Obama’s health care law. Republicans, meanwhile, have criticized the White House as unbending and fake in its outreach to Republicans on big issues.

After a divisive national campaign backing their nominee, Mitt Romney, Republicans have congratulated Obama on his second inauguration. Tension and animosity, for now, seem to have abated. But with a fight looming over the debt ceiling, it doesn’t appear likely that Obama’s call will immediately close the fissures that have grown over his first four years.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Getting Down to Business After Inaugural Address

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will be getting down to business shortly after he delivers his second inaugural address, officially submitting the names of his nominees for the posts of CIA Director, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury, according to a White House official.

At the U.S. Capitol, the president is signing a proclamation entitled “National Day of Hope and Resolve, 2013″ to commemorate the inauguration.  And he is making four nominations:

  • John Owen Brennan to be Director of the CIA
  • Charles Timothy Hagel to be Secretary of Defense
  • John Forbes Kerry to be Secretary of State
  • Jacob J. Lew to be Secretary of the Treasury

ABC’s Devin Dwyer notes that four years ago, Obama signed a similar proclamation and sent nominations to the Senate.  This occurs in the President’s Room, just off the Senate chamber, immediately following the address.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Tweets Congratulations to Obama

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- No word yet from Mitt Romney, but his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, sent out congrats to President Obama on Monday.

”I congratulate President Obama on his inauguration, and I join the country in celebrating this American tradition,” he tweeted.

Ryan posted a longer congratulations on his Facebook page.  Here's the full text of his post:

I congratulate President Obama on his inauguration, and I join the country in celebrating this American tradition.

The president and I were political opponents. We had strong disagreements over the direction of the country—as we still do now. But today, we put those disagreements aside. Today, we remember what we share in common.

We serve the same country, one that is still in need of repair—and is still the freest on earth. We serve alongside men and women from both parties, who govern in good faith and good will. Finally, we serve the same people, who have honored us with their charge.

We may disagree on matters of policy. But today we remember why we take those matters so seriously—because we seek the public good. It’s our highest duty—one that we share—and one for which we’re grateful.

I’m happy to mark this historic occasion—for the president and for the country. And I look forward to tackling the big challenges ahead.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama's Second Inaugural Address Confronts Familiar Challenges

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- At the height of the "fiscal cliff" showdown, the final political battle of his first term, President Obama lamented the bitter persistence of Washington partisanship as "déjà vu all over again."

On Monday, as Obama delivers his second inaugural address on the west front of the Capitol, he could say the same thing about the looming political battles of his new term.

Four years ago, Obama took office amidst what he then described as "gathering clouds and raging storms," an economic crisis that resulted from "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."

The nation was in the throes of a financial collapse, decades in the making, whose breadth and depth were only starting to be known.  It would become a devastating recession, the worst since the Great Depression.

Now, even as the economy continues a gradual climb back from the brink, many of those "hard choices" still remain, with climbing deficits and debt, and a yawning partisan gap over how to deal with them.

On the horizon is a cascade of fresh fiscal crises -- these politically self-imposed -- over the nation's debt ceiling, spending cuts and a federal budget, all of which economists say threaten another recession and could further downgrade the nation's credit rating.

Obama will use the first major speech of his second term to try to reset the tone of debate and turn the page on the political battles of the past, hoping for something of a fresh start.

He will "talk about the challenges that face us and what unites us as Americans," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told ABC News.

"Monday is an American moment: the swearing-in of the president of the United States -- everyone's president," Messina said.  "You're going to see a president who wants to work across party lines to get things done, that's what the country wants."

He will acknowledge that we won't "settle every debate or resolve every difference" but that we "have an obligation to work together," said a senior administration official, who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak freely about the speech.

Obama will not discuss specific policy prescriptions in his address, though he may broadly allude to issues of war, immigration, climate change and environment along with gun control, officials said.  The details will be saved for the State of the Union address on Feb. 12.

But the president will make clear that his re-election -- the first Democrat to win two elections with more than 50 percent of the vote since Franklin D. Roosevelt -- reflects momentum for his agenda, said top White House aides.

"He's going to find every way he can to compromise.  But he's going to be pretty clear, and we're also going to bring the American people more into the debate than we did in the first term," senior Obama adviser David Plouffe said on ABC's This Week.

Obama, who was officially sworn in Sunday in a private ceremony at the White House, will speak before an expected crowd of 800,000 on the National Mall and millions more watching at home.

The president has been working on his inaugural address since mid-December, officials said, working through drafts of the text on yellow legal pads that he's been spotted carrying through the West Wing.  He also hosted a dinner with presidential historians at the White House last week, looking for insights on how to make his speech memorable and impactful.

In a video message to his supporters reflecting on the moment, Obama said two historical figures would be especially on his mind on Monday: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Abraham Lincoln.

"Their actions, the movements they represented are the only reason it's possible for me to be inaugurated," Obama said.  "It's also a reminder for me that this country has gone through very tough times before, but we always come out on the other side."

For the ceremonial oath-taking, Obama will place his left hand on the stacked personal Bibles of Lincoln and King.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


A Prayer for the President and a Nation

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When the Rev. Dr. Luis León delivers the benediction Monday at President Obama’s inauguration, his message will focus on uniting a divided nation.

“My sense is that as a country we’re not talking to each other,” León told ABC News.  “We don’t trust each other.  We’ve forgotten that we have more that binds us together than separates us.  My prayer is that we capture that sense of being one nation.”

León, an Episcopal priest at St. John’s Church across from the White House in Washington, D.C., will do double duty on Inauguration Day.  He will host Obama for a prayer service before the inauguration, as well as give the benediction.

St. John’s has held prayer services for U.S. presidents on Inauguration Day 11 times.  Franklin Roosevelt started the tradition.

“It doesn’t get old,” León said.  “We’ve never had any bloodletting as one government passes the baton except maybe during the Civil War after Lincoln was elected.”

The church has a special pew in the back commemorating the spot where President Abraham Lincoln sat when he attended services at St. John’s.  A plaque next to the pew says Lincoln always came alone and left before the service ended to walk back to the White House.

So how does a minister prepare for a presidential inauguration?  Leon has been at St. John’s since 1994.  He delivered the invocation for President George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005, as U.S. troops were fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We were all conscious of how many troops we had there,” León said.  “We were beginning to feel divided then.  I think it’s gotten worse.”

The word León said he kept using during that invocation was “gratitude,” hoping to remind Americans to be thankful for the blessings they had, rather than dwelling on the nation’s troubles.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Monday's Inauguration Schedule

Chris Dilts for the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2013(WASHINGTON) -- This is the schedule of Monday's inauguration of President Obama on the West Front of the Capitol.  The approximate times, all ET, come from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies:

11:09 a.m.: The president and his family are announced and seated on the inaugural platform, built by the Architect of the Capitol.  It holds some 1,600 people, including members of Congress, the Cabinet and the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and governors.

11:35 a.m.: Invocation by Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights organizer Medgar Evers, and the first woman and first non-clergy member to lead the pre-oath prayer.

11:46 a.m.: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor administers the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden.

11:55 a.m.: Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to Obama, who will use two Bibles: the one used by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861 (which Obama used four years ago); and a Bible that belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Noon: Obama gives his second inaugural address.

12:26 p.m.: A poem by Richard Blanco, the first Hispanic inaugural poet.

12:30 p.m.: The Rev. Dr. Luis Leon delivers the benediction.

12:34 p.m.: Beyoncé sings the national anthem.

2:36 p.m.: After attending an inaugural luncheon in the Capitol, the Obamas and Bidens lead the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.  The event will take several hours and include thousands of participants from across the country.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obamas Share the Love, Even for First Lady’s Bangs

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama used the first public remarks of his second term to address what he called the “most significant” event of this weekend: his wife’s much-talked-about new haircut.

“I love her bangs,” Obama told supporters at an inaugural reception at the National Building Museum.  “She looks good.  She always looks good.”

First lady Michelle Obama, wearing a black sequined cocktail dress and showcasing her new hairdo, also heaped compliments on her husband.

“Let me tell you, it has just been a true thrill to watch this handsome, charming individual grow into the man and the president that he is,” she said, as she reached out to playfully touch the president’s face, sparking laughter from the crowd.

Praising his compassion and courage, the first lady introduced the president as the “love of her life.”

Obama, who was sworn in for a second term in a small White House ceremony earlier on Sunday, kept his remarks short, noting he has another big speech to deliver on Monday.

“There are a limited amount of good lines and you don’t want to use them all up tonight,” he joked.

Because the Constitutionally-mandated date for the inauguration -- Jan. 20 -- fell on a Sunday this year, the traditional, public ceremony was delayed until Monday.

Saving the best for his official inaugural address, the president instead dedicated the bulk of his remarks to thanking supporters for their hard work and dedication to getting him re-elected.

“You understood this was not just about a candidate; it was not just about Joe Biden or Barack Obama.  This was about us, who we are as a nation, what values we cherish, how hard we’re willing to fight to make sure that those values live not just for today but for future generations,” he said.

“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 forward.  And that’s part of what we celebrate when we come together for inauguration,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Inauguration to Cost Millions But Total Price Tag Unclear

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- How much will all the inaugural events cost? It's hard to say.

While most events that occur in the capital have a hard-and-fast budget, the inauguration's many moving parts, safety concerns and large geographic reach make it hard to quantify – especially before the main event.

In 2009, ABC reported the total cost of Obama's first inauguration was $170 million. While incumbent presidents historically spend less on a second inauguration, it's unclear what the total bill will be this time around. Analysis of some of the known appropriations so far puts the total at $13.637 million, but it will no doubt be a much larger price tag when everything is accounted for.

One of the main chunks missing from this year's tab is the budget for the Presidential Inaugural Committee – the group responsible for using donated money to put together this year's celebrations, including National Day of Service, the Kids' Inaugural Concert, the Parade and the Inaugural Balls.

In 2009, the PIC collected more than $53 million in donations, according to a report filed with the Federal Elections Commission 90 days after the inauguration.

While enthusiasm for the inauguration was running higher that year, it is possible the PIC will haul in more money this time around, as they have eliminated some of the self-imposed regulations on the kinds of donations they can accept. For his first inauguration, President Obama did not take money from corporations or gifts that exceeded $50,000.

In 2013, his committee did away with those rules. PIC spokesman Brent Colburn would not say why the change took place, insisting that each committee operates independently from the precedent set by the inaugurations before – even if staff like Colburn are repeats on the committee from 2009.

The PIC also won't say how much they have already collected or even what their goal was. Colburn explained that these are "moving budgets," which won't stabilize until after the inauguration.

They have, however, released the names of donors on their website weekly. As of Friday afternoon, they were up to 993 donors.

Another leg of the costs is covered by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. They take care of the swearing-in ceremony and the Congressional luncheon. For those events they have a total budget of $1.237 million, down by about $163,000 from 2009. Whereas the PIC budget comes from donations, the American taxpayers foot the bill for the JCCIC.

Beyond those two inauguration-focused groups, there are a myriad of broader organizations that spend money on the inauguration as well.

A Congressional Research Service report from December says the government spent $22 million reimbursing local and state governments and the National Park Service for their participation in the 2009 inauguration, but that figure is low. The D.C. government alone received twice that amount, according to the mayor's office. Officials from D.C., Maryland and Virginia estimated their total need to be $75 million.

NPS got an appropriation from Congress of $1.2 million so far this year, according to communications officer Carol Johnson, and another $1.4 million went to the U.S. Park Police.

Where will that money go? All over the nation's capital city – from security to snow removal in a chilly year to porta-potty inspection to first aid tents.

"We ensure the safety of our visitors, and we protect the natural and cultural resources of the park lands that belong to the American public," Johnson said.

This year they have more than 600 park employees and volunteers coming in for Inauguration Day.

The U.S. Secret Service is another important and costly piece of the puzzle.

For security reasons, the Secret Service, Metropolitan Police, DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services and other security groups do not divulge cost figures prior to Inauguration day.

But because Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano designated the 2013 Inauguration a National Special Security Event – in keeping with past inaugurations – the funding for the Secret Service comes from a special pot. The Secret Service has a budget of $19.307 million for all NSSEs for the fiscal year, according to the CRS report, so their costs will be a fraction of that amount.

Security for ticketed events like the Inaugural Balls comes out of the PIC's budget, because they are considered private events, according to the CRS report.

The report lists funding set aside for the District of Columbia to cover inauguration-related costs this year at $9.8 million. In 2009, the District was reimbursed more than $44 million, including a $9.54 million FEMA grant authorized by President Bush prior to the event, according to reports by the Executive Office of the Mayor and the National Capital Region.

That broke down to $24.25 million for the MPD, almost $5 million for the Department of Real Estate Services and $2.5 million for DC Fire and EMS.

FEMS Battalion Chief Brian Lee said his organization provides "emergency medical care, safety and security to the public and dignitaries" during inaugural events and that doing that requires extra personnel and equipment.

On Inauguration Day, Washington Metro Area Transit Authority will be essential for those heading into the city for the ceremonies. They did not have cost estimates available at the time of publishing.

During the 2009 Inauguration Day, Metro set the all-time record for most ridership – providing service for more than 1.54 million trips that day.

One exorbitant cost has already drawn attention in the District; the mayor's viewing stand, from which D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray will watch the Inaugural Parade, cost $342,000 to build. The banner above it reads, "A More Perfect Union Must Include Full Democracy in DC."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Inauguration Day Fun Facts: Flubbed Oaths, Dead Birds and Weird Hats

Sarah Sweeney/ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- As far as the Constitution is concerned, all Barack Obama needs to do Monday before "he enters on the execution of his office" is take a 35-word oath and call it day. No Bible, no speech, no parade, no ball.

That legally an inauguration starts with "I do solemnly swear" and ends with "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," however, fails to capture the majesty of the moment, the continuity of American democracy and the singular importance of a tradition that began 220 years ago when George Washington reportedly ignored the Constitution and added another four words to the oath of office.

Obama too is expected to add those four words, "so help me God," which have been uttered by every president since Washington with the exception of Teddy Roosevelt. That extemporaneous amendment -- amid the concerts, parades and balls -- is perhaps the one moment all day where the new president acknowledges just what he has gotten himself into.

Washington -- being Washington -- also set the precedent of delivering an inaugural address. While every subsequent president has given a speech after the oath of office, few have followed in the first president's footsteps and kept it brief. At 135 words, Washington's second inaugural ranks as the shortest in history.

The longest inaugural address was delivered by William Henry Harrison. It was 8,445 words, nearly two hours long and -- if that wasn't bad enough -- likely killed him. In April 1841, one month after he was sworn in, Harrison died of pneumonia, believed to have been brought on by exposure to the elements on a cold and rainy Inauguration Day. Other deaths attributed to the inauguration include hats and several canaries, which according to inauguration historian Jim Bendat, were brought to cheer up Ulysses S. Grant's 1873 inaugural ball but froze to death instead.

"In 1873, at Grant's inaugural ball, it was a bitter cold night and someone forgot to heat the place. The food was too cold, and everyone was bumping into each other because they were dancing in their long overcoats. But, the saddest thing of all was someone got the idea of having canaries to merrily chirp away for the guests, but alas the poor canaries froze," said Bendat, author of Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President From 1789-2009.

Popular belief has long held that John F. Kennedy killed the hat, once routinely worn by American men in public, by not donning head wear to his inauguration in 1961. But photographs prove otherwise. Not only did Kennedy wear a hat to his inauguration, but it was that most traditional of formal hats, a top hat.

"I don't know where that started or why people believe Kennedy killed the hat," Bendat said. "There are plenty of photos showing Kennedy in a top hat, thought he took it off for his address. If you're looking for someone to blame, blame Johnson."

Top hats were for decades mainstays of presidential inaugurations, petering out with Lyndon Johnson, who did not wear one.

Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in Obama.

The Constitution does not specify who has to administer the oath of office, but the chief justice has done the honors for the president since 1797, when John Adams, the second president, took the oath of office.

Obama will take the oath using two Bibles, one owned by Abraham Lincoln and another by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Washington's Inaugural Bible, which he kissed after the oath, has been used by four subsequent presidents including George W. Bush.

Obama will likely be sworn in, as he was in 2009, using his full name, Barrack Hussein Obama. The president, otherwise rarely uses his middle name.

Technically, the President Obama will be sworn in on Sunday, Jan. 20, in a private ceremony at the White House. He will be sworn in again ceremonially at the Capitol on Monday.

Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath at Obama's first inaugural. When asking Obama to recite the oath, Roberts put the word "faithfully" in the wrong place, prompting Obama to pause when delivering it. To make sure the oath was Constitutionally up to snuff, it was re-administered by Roberts in the White House that night.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio