Obama set for public swearing-in

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama has arrived at the US Capitol, where he is soon to take the oath of office for his second term as president.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters have gathered to see Mr Obama, 51, be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Festivities include black-tie balls, a parade, and musical performances.

Mr Obama was formally sworn in at a small White House ceremony on Sunday - the US Constitution dictates presidential terms begin on 20 January.

In the famous Blue Room with his wife and daughters, the 44th president rested his hand on a Bible that was used for many years by Michelle Obama's family, as Justice Roberts administered the oath of office.
    
Inauguration Day schedule

1130 : Official ceremony begins at the West Front of US Capitol

1155 : Obama is publicly sworn in as president by Chief Justice John Roberts

1200 : Obama delivers inaugural address

1239 : Obama signs nomination papers for his Cabinet

1300 : Inaugural lunch in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol

1436 : Inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, ending at the White House.

According to the words prescribed by the US Constitution, the Democratic president swore he would "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".

He will repeat those words at Monday's public inauguration, placing his left hand on Bibles owned by legendary American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and President Abraham Lincoln.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, along with dozens of senators, congressional leaders and other dignitaries have begun arriving at the US Capitol.

Following the oath, Mr Obama will give an inaugural address in which he will lay out his vision for a second term.

Mr Obama is not expected to preview his policy agenda on Monday - he will address that in next month's State of the Union speech, when he will ask bitterly divided lawmakers to come together and reduce gun violence, overhaul the immigration system and reduce the yawning federal budget deficit.

Speaking at a reception for supporters late on Sunday, Mr Obama suggested he would dwell on the "common good" and the "goodness, the resilience, neighbourliness, the patriotism" of Americans.

"What we are celebrating is not the election or the swearing-in of the president," Mr Obama said. "What we are doing is celebrating each other and celebrating this incredible nation that we call home."

By Monday afternoon, Mr Obama will have taken the oath four times - as many as President Franklin D Roosevelt.

Four years ago, Mr Obama repeated the oath privately to make sure all constitutional obligations were met after Justice Roberts tripped over the words in the public ceremony.

Following Monday's ceremony, Mr Obama will have the traditional lunch with US lawmakers in the capitol building's Statuary Hall.

Later, the president is expected to walk at least part of the parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House.

Vice-President Joe Biden, who was also sworn in on Sunday - by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor - will repeat his oath publicly as well.

In the evening, the Obamas will don formal evening attire for several lavish inaugural balls in Washington.

The zone surrounding the National Mall in the US capital is in virtual lockdown, with movement of people and vehicles tightly restricted.

White tents, trailers and generators are set up along the parade route, while nearby buildings have been adorned with red, white and blue bunting.

Officials estimate about 700,000 people will attend the inauguration, down significantly from 2009, when about 1.8 million people witnessed Mr Obama be sworn in as America's first black president.

About 260,000 people attended George W Bush's second inauguration ceremony in 2005, with an additional 150,000 lining the parade route, officials said.

"We wanted to see history, I think, and also for the children to witness that anything is possible through hard work," David Richardson of Atlanta, in the crowd with his two young children, told the Associated Press.

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