Deals & Steals:

Obama Calls for 'Collective Action' in Inaugural

ABC News

Invoking the nation's founding values, President Obama marked the start of his second term today with a sweeping call for "collective action" to confront the economic and social challenges of America's present and future.

"That is our generation's task, to make these words, these rights, these values -- of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -- real for every American," Obama said in an inaugural address delivered from the west front of the U.S. Capitol.

"Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time," he said, giving nod to the yawning partisan divide.

"But it does require us to act in our time."

The call to action, on the eve of what's shaping up to be another contentious term with Republicans and Congress, aimed to reset the tone of debate in Washington and turn the page on the political battles of the past.

"For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said. "We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect."

The address, lasting a little less than 20 minutes, laid out in broad terms Obama's vision for the next four years, alluding to looming policy debates on the war in Afghanistan, deficit reduction, immigration, and overhaul of Social Security and Medicare.

Obama also became the first president, at least in recent inaugural history, to make explicit mention of equality for gay and lesbian Americans. He made repeated mentions of "climate change," something no president has said from such a platform before.

The president stuck closely to his campaign themes, offering few new details of his policy proposals, however. Those are expected to come next month in the State of the Union address Feb. 12.

"A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America's possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention," Obama said, sounding optimistic tones.

"We are made for this moment, and we will seize it," he said, "so long as we seize it together."

Hundreds of thousands packed the National Mall in chilly 40-degree temperatures and brisk wind to hear Obama's remarks and witness the ceremonial swearing-in. While the crowds were smaller than four years ago, the U.S. Park Police said the Mall reached capacity and was closed shortly before Obama took the podium.

Shortly before the address, Obama placed his left hand on the stacked personal Bibles belonging to President Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and raised his right to repeat the oath administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

"I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States," he said, "and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Obama and Biden were both officially sworn in during private ceremonies Sunday, Jan. 20, the date mandated by the Constitution for presidents to begin their terms.

GOP Wishes Obama Well

Top Republicans publicly congratulated the president on his inauguration and urged Americans to celebrate the history and symbolism of the day.

"Today we praise the American tradition of transferring or reaffirming immense power in the inauguration of the president of the United States. We do this in a peaceful, orderly way," Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said.

"Find the good and praise it."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, tweeted congratulations to Obama and Biden.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement that he wishes the president "well in the fulfillment of his duty to lead the U.S. at home and abroad over the next four years."

"The president's second term represents a fresh start when it comes to dealing with the great challenges of our day; particularly, the transcendent challenge of unsustainable federal spending and debt," McConnell said.

"Republicans are eager to work with the president on achieving this common goal, and we firmly believe that divided government provides the perfect opportunity to do so."

View Comments (-3)

Recommended for You

  • COLUMN: Is Superhero TV Like 'Luke Cage,' 'Flash' Better Than the Films

    "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" sits somewhere in between and for a 2016 that could have been one of the best in superhero films, it really didn't deliver -- at least yet. We can debate whether this is the beginning of what Steven Spielberg predicted last year -- that eventually superhero…

    Good Morning America11 mins ago
  • Nick Hillary Opens Up to '20/20' in 1st Interview After Being Found Not Guilty of Murder

    After being found not guilty of murder, former college soccer coach Nick Hillary opened up to ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas for his first post-verdict interview, saying that a monumental burden has been lifted off his shoulders. Hillary was accused of fatally strangling 12-year-old Garrett Phillips,…

    Good Morning America11 mins ago
  • Deli Menu Perfectly Sums Up Pain of Parents Dining With Kids

    It's the Deli at Mansion Park's first stab at a kids' menu, and they nailed it.The Altoona, Pennsylvania, establishment has already seen an uptick in business, manager Brian Stroh told ABC News."As a single dad, I go out with my daughter fairly often and I remember what it was like," he said.He's…

    Good Morning America16 mins ago
  • Ryder Cup Heckler Wins $100 Bet by Making Putt Rory McIlroy Missed

    One of the most famous contests in golf saw one of the most impressive displays on a green in Ryder Cup history, and it didn't even come from one of the players. David Johnson, a spectator during the practice round on Thursday at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota, watched Team Europe's…

    Good Morning America28 mins ago
  • Obama Remembers Shimon Peres, Says Mideast Peace 'Unfinished Business'

    Obama then went on to paint Peres as a man whose vision for Israel at times seemed trapped between critics on the far left and far right. "Whatever he shared with his family or his closest friends, to the world he brushed off the critics, and I know from my conversations with him that his pursuit…

    Good Morning America28 mins ago
  • California Police Shooting Protests Turn Violent, 2 Arrests Made

    Protests of a police shooting in El Cajon, California turned violent late Thursday night, with groups of people throwing bottles and other objects at police and smashing car windows. "At one point, an assault took place between the protesters and a motorcyclist who was knocked off of his…

    Good Morning America28 mins ago
  • Man's Heroic Actions Comforted Gravely Injured Woman in NJ Transit Crash

    An eyewitness to the horrific crash in a busy train station in Hoboken, New Jersey on Thursday that killed one woman and injured over 100 told ABC News about the harrowing scene he encountered following the moment of impact. Many people fled as the train smashed into the station with such force…

    Good Morning America28 mins ago
  • Joe Biden: Donald Trump's Comments About Avoiding Paying Taxes 'Anger Me, Quite Frankly'

    Joe Biden is still dumbfounded by Donald Trump's performance at this week's presidential debate. During his first-ever appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" Thursday night, Fallon asked the vice president if he watched Monday's debate between Trump and Democratic rival Hillary…

    Good Morning America
  • 'GMA' Mega Deals and Steals: Exclusive Discounts on 30 Must-Have Items

    Score big savings in this "GMA" Deals and Steals event!

    Good Morning America
  • Hoboken Crash Reignites Debate Over Positive Train Control

    The train crash in New Jersey that left one woman dead and 114 others injured has re-ignited the debate over positive train control, an automatic breaking system that deploys when trains run above the speed limit among other scenarios. According to New Jersey Transit’s last quarterly filing, dated…

    Good Morning America
  • 6-Year-Old 'Fighting for His Life' After South Carolina Elementary School Shooting, Official Says

    A 6-year-old boy is "fighting for his life" today after being critically wounded in the shooting at an elementary school in Townville, South Carolina, according to the city's fire chief, who spoke at a news conference this afternoon. Jacob Hall, a kindergarten student at Towville Elementary…

    Good Morning America
  • 13-Year-Old Twins Honored With '911 Hero Awards' for Helping Mom Deliver Baby Sister at Home

    A pair of twin sisters from South Carolina were honored at their middle school this week for bravely assisting their mom with the unexpected birth of their baby sister. Nykiaya (Kiaya) Williams-Brown and Nykailyn (Kailyn) Williams-Brown, both 13, each received a "911 Hero Award" for stepping in…

    Good Morning America
  • Emergency Responders Describe Aftermath of NJ Transit Crash in Hoboken

    Emergency workers piled into a bar located a short distance from the Hoboken Terminal in New Jersey to eat, rest and chat about the destruction caused by a New Jersey Transit commuter train that crashed this morning, killing one and injuring more than 100 others. Texas Arizona, the bar, provided…

    Good Morning America
  • Lady Gaga Will Perform at Super Bowl Halftime Show

    Lady Gaga will headline next year's Super Bowl halftime show. The National Football League and the singer made the announcement today on Twitter. Super Bowl LI will be held at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 5, 2017.

    Good Morning America
  • Voters Choosing Among 'Lesser of Two Evils,' Survey Finds

    “I want this election to be about something, not against somebody,” Clinton said to a crowd of 2,000 at an outdoor park where Trump supporters protested across the street. A Pew study on voter preferences last week reported findings that highlight the discord in the election cycle, saying that the…

    Good Morning America
  • James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess Prep for Their New 'Dancing With the Stars' Number

    Hinchcliffe and Burgess were tasked with theming their dance to "Paramour," Cirque du Soleil's first foray onto Broadway. Speaking from inside the Lyric Theatre, Burgess said she credits the couple's consistently high scores to Hinchcliffe's split-second attention to detail (thanks to his career…

    Good Morning America
  • Woman Killed in NJ Transit Crash Identified as 34-Year-Old Hoboken Resident Fabiola Bittar de Kroon

    The woman who was killed in a New Jersey Transit train crash this morning has been identified by officials as 34-year-old Hoboken resident Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, a mother with a vibrant career who moved to the United States from Brazil with her family. De Kroon was not a passenger on the train…

    Good Morning America