With minutes to go to the Constitutionally mandated noon deadline, President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term in office at a lightning-fast private ceremony on Sunday in the Blue Room of the White House. Standing with First Lady Michelle Obama and First Daughters Malia and Sasha before a window that framed the Washington Monument in the distance, the President took the 35-word oath of office. Led by Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr, the ceremony lasted about a minute.
Twelve members of the extended First Family were gathered in the Blue Room, including the President's adult half-sisters and nieces and nephews from both sides of the family.
Roberts read the oath from a card to avoid the flub that occurred during the President's first swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol in 2009. The President was clad in a dark suit, while Mrs. Obama wore a navy and maroon print dress with a bolero by American designer Reed Krakoff, according to a White House official. As Mrs. Obama held a Robinson family Bible owned by her Grandmother and dating to 1958, the President placed his left hand atop it.
"Please raise your right hand and repeat after me," Roberts said. After the President did so, he repeated the oath after the Chief Justice:
"I, Barack Hussein Obama, 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."
The President added "So help me God," which isn't in the Constitution but is traditionally added at the end. He also chose to "swear" his oath, as opposed to "affirming" it, an option offered in the Constitution. As they finished, Roberts leaned forward and shook hands with the President.
"Congratulations, Mr. President," said Roberts.
"Thank you Mr. Chief Justice, thank you so much," President Obama responded.
The President turned to kiss Mrs. Obama, and was overheard saying "Thank you, sweetie." He then hugged his daughters.
"Good job, daddy," said Sasha, 11. "I did it,” he responded. "You didn’t mess up," Sasha said back to her father, before President Obama led his family out of the Blue Room.
"All right, thank you everybody," he said as he departed with a wave to the press pool.
Members of the First Family attending the ceremony included the President's half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and her husband Konrad Ng and their two small daughters, Savita and Suhaila, as well as half-sister Auma Obama and her daughter Akinyi Manners. The First Lady's family members included First Grandmother Marian Robinson and brother Craig Robinson, with his teenage children Leslie and Avery. The Godmother to Sasha and Malia, Eleanor "Mama Kaye" Wilson, was also present with her husband Wellington Wilson.
The Chief Justice's wife Jane Roberts and Press Secretary Jay Carney were also in the the Blue Room, which is is one of the oval rooms at the White House, and the center reception room on the State Floor.
The Robinson family Bible the President used was a gift from the First Lady's deceased father, Fraser Robinson III, to his mother, LaVaughn Delores Robinson, on Mother's Day in 1958. Mrs. Robinson was the first African American woman manager of a Moody Bible Institute's bookstore; this was the only Bible she ever used, according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
"Barack just took the official oath at the @WhiteHouse & used my grandma’s bible for the ceremony. I’m so proud of him. –mo," Mrs. Obama tweeted on her @FLOTUS account after the ceremony.
Four years ago, Roberts and President Obama flubbed the 35-word oath of office as specified in the Constitution during the ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol, and the pair later reprised the correct oath at the White House on Jan. 21, 2009--just to make sure Mr. Obama was officially President. Today's ceremony was formal, and had no animosity: President Obama publicly lectured Roberts and the High Court over its Citizens United decision during his 2010 State of the Union Address. But it was Roberts' vote last year saved that saved President Obama's signature health care law from being overturned by the court.
Ahead of Sunday's ceremony, the President and First Family attended a morning service at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the most historic churches in the nation, in an outing not listed on the President's official schedule. The service was "celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," according to a White House official. The sermon intermixed Moses and the President's reelection slogan, "Forward," and the congregation sang "Happy Birthday" to the First Lady, who marked her 49th on Jan. 17. (Above, the President and Mrs. Obama at the service)
Before church, the President and Vice President Joe Biden laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, during a brief 9:00 AM ceremony. Biden was sworn in early Sunday morning during a private ceremony at his official residence, the Naval Observatory. It was far larger than the President's ceremony, with 120 guests. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor officiated, the first Hispanic woman in history to do so.
This evening, ahead of the massive inaugural celebration at the Capitol on Monday, the First Couple and the Bidens will attend an inaugural reception a the National Building Museum. Chief Justice Roberts will repeat his duties on Monday, as will Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, for Biden.
The President on Monday will use two Bibles at the repeat swearing-in ceremony, at the Capitol, one owned by President Abraham Lincoln, and used during his swearing in ceremony in 1861, and the other owned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mrs. Obama will hold both Bibles, with the King Bible placed atop the Lincoln Bible, according to the White House, as Roberts administers the oath of office for the second time.
President Obama and the First Family kicked off the four days of inaugural festivities on Saturday, joining citizens across the nation for the National Day of Service. They helped refurbish DC's Burrville Elementary School, staining a five-tier bookshelf as their project. On Saturday night, the First Lady and Dr. Biden hosted the Kids' Inaugural concert, honoring children from military families.
Barack just took the official oath at the @whitehouse & used my grandma’s bible for the ceremony. I’m so proud of him. –mo
— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) January 20, 2013
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*Top photo by Presidential Inaugural Committee; second by Pete Souza/White House; White House video