Obama takes oath, urges end to partisan rancor


by Reuters

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The crowd -- an estimated 700,000 people began arriving in the early hours of the morning.

This inauguration, President Barack Obama's second was a noticeably more toned down event compared to four years ago --- a point that made little difference to many of those who turned out.

SOUNDBITE: Linda Stephens, Spectator From Alabama Saying:

"I am here because I wanted to be a witness to history

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were among those who watched as Supreme Court Justice John Roberts administered the oath.

SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying:

"I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States (stumble) and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States. So help me God."

Addressing the crowd, the president pledged to restore the economy while honoring his campaign promises.

SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying:

"My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it - so long as we seize it together. For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.

He also acknowledged his critics as well as the deep political divide.

SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying:

"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect."

American Idol alumni Kelly Clarkson performed as did Beyonce.

And as has become tradition, on the way back to the White House, the President and First Lady emerged from their motorcade to greet their supporters.