Americas

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Obama will call for divided US to learn from its history

Peter Foster Washington

Published 21/01/2013|05:00

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Barack Obama will remind a deeply divided America of the need to "seek common ground" in his second inaugural speech today, as his new term in office looked likely to be bedevilled by ongoing political gridlock.

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Even as the finishing touches were being put to the inauguration festivities, the battle lines were being drawn for a series of tough fights in Congress over immigration reform, gun control and the deficit.

"He's going to talk about the fact that our political system doesn't require us to talk about all of our differences and political disputes," said David Plouffe, the senior White House adviser.

Up to a million people are expected in Washington to celebrate Mr Obama's swearing-in for his second term. The ceremony will be followed by an inaugural parade, which will feature many branches of the US armed services, and two balls with performances by singers including Beyonce, Katy Perry and Stevie Wonder.

Mr Obama was officially sworn in yesterday at a brief ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House, taking the oath from the Chief Justice John Roberts using a family Bible. Only Mr Obama's close family members, including his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha, were present.

Bibles

"Good job, daddy," said Sasha as she hugged her father, to which he replied "I did it". For the public ceremony today, Mr Obama will be sworn in using two Bibles belonging to his political heroes: Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, a symbolic move that reflects the 150th anniversary this year of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr King's "I have a dream" speech.

Mr Obama will address a nation whose divisions were clearly exposed during last year's election campaign when he defeated Mitt Romney, due to a progressive coalition of women, minorities and young people. Mr Plouffe said that Mr Obama had still not given up trying to find common ground with Republicans.

"He's going to talk about how our founding values and vision can still provide us with a guiding pathway in a changing world," he told Fox News.

Even before the speech was delivered, senior Republicans were warning Mr Obama to "legislate realistically" in his second term, and promising that they would block attempts to force new gun controls measures. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

ANALYSIS: BRIAN MURPHY PAGE 26

Irish Independent

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