‘When times change, so must we’



Barack Hussein Obama renewed his oath of office at midday Monday, ceremonially marking the beginning of another four years in the White House and calling for "fidelity to our founding principles" while also embracing "new responses to new challenges".

Crowds that were expected to reach 600,000 assembled on National Mall in front of the Capitol, eager to witness the start of the president's second term. Obama, 51, was formally sworn in during a small, private ceremony at the White House on Sunday, the date constitutionally mandated for inauguration.

Obama declared that the country was "made for this moment", but said the nation must confront the needs of a rising middle class. And he acknowledged that the often divisive and combative politics of today have sometimes fallen short of the size of the country's problems.

"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; we must act knowing that our work will be imperfect."

Security in Washington was tight as Obama, the nation's first black president, delivered his second Inaugural Address from the Capitol just before noon. Speaking on the day the nation sets aside to honor the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Obama took his oath with his hand on two Bibles: one once owned by King and another once owned by Abraham Lincoln.

Calling it the current generation's task to carry on the quest for equality, Obama urged the nation to make sure that women were paid equally to men and that gay men and lesbians were treated equally under the law.

In a reference to the gun control debate that he has begun in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Obama said the country must confront the dangers to America's children.

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