Second inauguration just as intense for some Obama fans

The National Mall was less crowded than four years ago, and the weather not nearly so cold. But for some fans viewing President Barack Obama's ceremonial swearing-in for a second term of office on Monday, the moment was equally intense.

"This time I felt more emotional," said Angela Johnson of Columbia, South Carolina, who sported a heavy coat festooned with Obama pins.

Johnson, who is black, said four years ago she fretted about Obama's safety during the inauguration of the United States' first black president.

On Monday, she said, she felt both excitement that Obama was being sworn in on the holiday that honors the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and relief that Obama's re-election had reaffirmed his place in history.

"I think we're on the path to seeing the president more accepted," Johnson said.

As Obama took the oath of office outside the US Capitol, the same outward signs of passion erupted as in 2009. From the crowd, voices chanted: "Obama!" "USA!" and "Four More Years!" as spectators waved American flags.

Obama addressed a crowd estimated to be up to 700,000 people - less than half the record 1.8 million who assembled four years ago.

"This is history," said Paula Abdul, an American singer, songwriter and television personality who strolled through the crowds near the Capitol.

"As we're walking around, it all seems very inspiring to me," said Abdul, who was invited by the Creative Coalition, an advocacy group supporting the US entertainment industry.

Several lines in Obama's inaugural speech brought enthusiastic cheers, especially "a decade of war is now ending," and his calls for equal pay for women and equal rights for gays.

Some also said he projected a tone of seriousness, even world-weariness, that was not there in January 2009, before the Democratic president had spent years battling high unemployment and Republicans resisting his agenda in the US Congress.

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