On a day of prayer, pledges and parties, President Barack Obama heard cheers in the streets of the capital Monday as he returned to the White House from a morning church service and crowds massed on the National Mall in anticipation of his encore inaugural address.
Obama aims to set an optimistic tone as he takes the oath of office and speaks to a divided nation seeking solutions to economic woes at home and conflict overseas. The fanfare will extend across the nation’s capital, including the traditional inaugural parade and a pair of glitzy formal balls.
Obama and his family, along with Vice President Joe Biden, arrived at St. John’s Episcopal Church on a crisp and clear morning in the nation’s capital. Known as “The Church of the Presidents”, St. John’s is located just across from the White House on the other side of Lafayette Park. Pew 54 is known as “the president’s pew” and is reserved for the commander-in-chief whenever he attends services.
The centerpiece of Monday’s festivities would be Obama’s inaugural address to the crowd in Washington and millions more watching on television. The president will urge lawmakers to find common ground when they can, and preview his second term goals, including comprehensive immigration reform, stricter gun control laws, and an end to the war in Afghanistan.
“What the inauguration reminds us of is the role we have as fellow citizens in promoting a common good, even as we carry out our individual responsibilities that, the sense that there’s something larger than ourselves, gives shape and meaning to our lives,” Obama said, previewing his address during brief thank-you remarks to donors at a reception Sunday night.
Washington largely shelved its partisan fighting for the three days of inaugural celebrations. Obama, perhaps seeking to start fresh with lawmakers in his second term, invited several members of Congress to the White House before his swearing in, including the Republican leaders he has been at odds with for the past four years: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.