President Obama, joined on Sunday by a dozen family members, recited the 35-word oath of office administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the Blue Room of the White House. It was an intimate and businesslike 30 seconds of history. Obama’s hand rested on a Bible that the first lady’s father, Fraser Robinson III, had given to his mother, LaVaughn Delores Robinson, on Mother’s Day 1958.
The president saved the pomp for Monday, when he and Roberts will repeat the oath outside the U.S. Capitol. The Constitution mandates that presidential terms begin Jan. 20, and when the date falls on a Sunday, the public ceremony traditionally is held the next day.
Organizers said the crowd will be far smaller than the estimated 1.8 million who were there in 2009 for an emotional and historic gathering on a bitterly cold day. But the stakes for Obama are no less important as he delivers his second inaugural address at a time when the economy remains fragile and his signature achievements, including health-care reform, are still works in progress.