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Obama Inauguration: Smaller Crowd, Two Bibles, Watchful Daughters

When President Obama takes the oath of office today, it will be the fourth time he will have pledged to protect the Constitution — the only president aside from Franklin Roosevelt to say it four times. But while Roosevelt said it four times because he was elected four times, Obama had special circumstances after both elections: In 2009, he and Chief Justice John Roberts botched it the first time in front of 1.8 million people on the mall, so they did it again in private two days later; this year he’s doing it twice because inauguration day fell on a Sunday, so he’s doing it again today for public viewing after doing it in private yesterday.

Amusingly, when Obama took the oath yesterday, like dads across the world he got a reminder of his fallibility from his younger daughter. “You didn’t mess up,” his daughter Sasha said.

Washington is abuzz for the inauguration and the festivities, though as every media observer is pointing out, there’s a lot less excitement and many fewer people expected this time than in 2009, when Obama made history by becoming the first black president. Instead of 1.8 million, about a half million people are expected on the mall to watch — still a sizable number but not the mind-blowing spectacle of four years ago, when the excitement in the crowd was almost enough to overcome the brutally cold temperatures.

When Obama is sworn in today, he will be using two Bibles — one that belonged to President Abraham Lincoln and one that belonged to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose official holiday is being celebrated across America today. In yesterday’s swearing-in, the president used a Bible that belonged to Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson.

These are the words he will say:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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.”

After the oath, Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, will give the invocation, followed by a performance from singer James Taylor.

The president will next give his inaugural address. He is expected to talk about the challenges the country faces in the next four years. That will be followed by a performance by Kelly Clarkson, a reading by Latino poet laureate Richard Blanco, Rev. Luis Leon delivering the benediction and Beyonce performing the national anthem.

Last night, in a recognition of the growing influence of Latinos, whose support was a big factor in Obama’s re-election, actress Eva Longoria, a co-chairwoman for Obama’s campaign, hosted the “Latino Inaugural 2013: In Performance at the Kennedy Center.” Included were performances by Jose Feliciano, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno and Latin pop star Prince Royce, with appearances by Mario Lopez and Wilmer Valderrama. Vice President Joe Biden and his family appeared onstage, after Biden had been sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latino on the Supreme Court.

“One thing that happened in this election, you spoke. You spoke in a way that the world, and I mean the world, as well as the United States, could not fail to hear,” Biden said, calling the Latino vote decisive. “This is your moment. America owes you.”

There has been widespread speculation that Biden is preparing to run for president in 2016.

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