01/20/2013 04:13 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2013

Oath Of Office: No Flubs For Obama, John Roberts At Private Swearing-In

* Roberts reads the oath closely from a card

* Short, private ceremony for Obama

* Close family members in attendance

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) - This time they got it right.

President Barack Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts, who flubbed the oath of office in a public inauguration ceremony four years ago, made it through without mistakes on Sunday at a private gathering that launched the Democrat's second term.

Shortly before noon on a sunny day, Roberts, dressed in his traditional dark robe, strode into the oval-shaped White House Blue Room and positioned himself, with cue card in hand, at the edge of a light beam streaming in through the window.

Obama, dressed in a suit, followed and planted himself opposite the chief justice. His wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha, rounded out the tableau.

Roberts asked Obama to raise his right hand and repeat after him.

"I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear," he began, using the president's full name. Obama repeated the oath, with his left hand on a Bible, held by his smiling wife.

Roberts, not wanting to repeat the mistake of 2009, looked down at his card and read most of its words, which Obama repeated, promising to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States. Only at the end, including the final phrase "so help you God," did Roberts keep his head up to maintain eye contact with the president.

After concluding the oath, the two men smiled and shook hands, visibly relieved. Roberts congratulated the president and Obama thanked him. The whole procedure lasted less than one minute. No mess-ups, no flubs.

"Good job, Dad," 11-year-old Sasha said.

"I did it," the president exclaimed.

The last time Obama and Roberts met at the White House for a swearing-in, the circumstances were different. Roberts had mixed up his words when administering the oath at the ceremony in front of the Capitol, causing Obama to do the same.

So the next day, they came together at the White House and did it again - without mistakes - in the Map Room. Only a handful of people were present, including four reporters.

The first lady and Obama's daughters were not there. Television cameras were prohibited and press photographers were not invited.

This year, the need for a private ceremony came from the constitutional requirement that the oath be taken on Jan. 20. Because that fell on a Sunday, the president did the official swearing-in at the White House and will repeat the procedure on Monday for a public celebration.


Michelle Obama wore a deep blue dress by designer Reed Krakoff, according to a White House official. The girls wore stylish dresses as well, with Malia in blue and Sasha in fuchsia.

A small group of close family members watched from the side of the room, including the first lady's mother, Marian Robinson, brother Craig Robinson and his family. The president's half sisters Auma Obama and Maya Soetoro-Ng and her family also attended, along with close family friends "Mama Kaye" Wilson and Wellington Wilson.

The family was ushered into the Blue Room shortly before the ceremony began. Roberts' wife, Jane, stood next to them.

The Blue Room was emptied of its traditional furniture, which had been moved to the large East Room instead.

A crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling from a chord that was wrapped in velvety-blue material, and the portraits of past presidents including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison adorned the walls.

White House spokesman Jay Carney along with a handful of journalists and photographers made up the rest of the small group in attendance. (Editing by Alistair Bell and Cynthia Osterman)



Inauguration Firsts

01/25/2013 1:48 PM EST

The Capitol At Sunset


The U.S. Capitol is shown following the public ceremonial inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

01/21/2013 9:34 PM EST

Latest News From The Inauguration With Jason Linkins

01/21/2013 9:12 PM EST

First Lady: 'I'm So Proud'


Just danced to "Let's Stay Together" with the love of my life and the President of the United States. I’m so proud of Barack. –mo

01/21/2013 9:10 PM EST

Wu, Choo Again For FLOTUS

HuffPost reports:

It seems like only yesterday that First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage at the Inaugural Ball in that sparkling white gown and immediately made Jason Wu a household name.

Four years later, at the Obamas' second and final inauguration, Michelle stunned in a long high-neck red Jason Wu gown with velvet details and an armful of sparkly bangles. She wore Jimmy Choo shoes, and a ring by Kimberly McDonald.

Click here to read more and see a photo of FLOTUS's gown.

01/21/2013 8:33 PM EST

Obama, Roberts Inscribed Traveling King Family Bible

Per a White House pool report:

From a WH official: After today's swearing in ceremony at the Capitol this afternoon, at the request of the King family, the President and Chief Justice Roberts inscribed the traveling King family Bible.

01/21/2013 7:24 PM EST

Inaugural Ball Main Floor: Cash Bar And Peanuts

Guests at Monday night's main inaugural ball for President Obama will be well served to eat a hearty dinner beforehand, and bring plenty of cash.

The main ballroom floor of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center was festooned with disco balls and thumping Madonna's "Holiday" as the doors opened to guests at around 6:45 p.m., but the bars and food tables were far from lavish: A cash bar required that customers purchase drink tickets from a separate location, while the food laid out on tables consisted of peanuts and pretzels.

Inauguration officials said in December that this year's festivities would be scaled back -- Obama's first inauguration included 10 balls, a fireworks show and a Bruce Springsteen concert. This time around only two official balls were scheduled, the main ball and the Commander In Chief's Ball, for military personnel and VIPs.

The main ballroom space was the least exclusive of the various events taking place tonight in the convention center -- upper floors contained various receptions for donors, diplomats and administration officials. Still, tickets for the main ball initially sold for $1,000, a lot of money to pay for for pretzels and a cash bar.

The cost of tickets was cut to $500 in recent weeks, leading to speculation that inauguration fundraising was lagging behind expectations.

cash bar

peanuts pretzels

-- Christina Wilkie

01/21/2013 6:49 PM EST

WATCH: Sasha Yawns During Dad's Inauguration Speech

HuffPost reports:

A .gif of Sasha Obama is becoming quite the viral smash, after the younger First Daughter was caught yawning during her father's inauguration speech.

sasha obama yawn

According to the Atlantic Wire, 11-year-old Sasha's mighty yawn was captured on camera Monday while President Obama was speaking about education policy.

"No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people," the president had said, before pausing for applause.

Click here to read more.

01/21/2013 6:37 PM EST

Crowd Estimates Are In

@ ChadPergram :

DC's security and emergency mgt agency says turnout for #inaug2013 was 800,000 and maybe higher.

01/21/2013 5:51 PM EST

Obamas' Inauguration Kiss Captured By Sasha & Malia On Cell Phones

HuffPost reports:

Most kids get squeamish at the sight of their parents canoodling, but Sasha and Malia Obama love them some good parental PDA.

While watching the Inauguration Day Parade on Monday, the First Daughters got President and Michelle Obama to pose for a quick kiss -- and captured it on their cell phones. First FLOTUS gave her best duck face, then she and POTUS locked lips ever so briefly... then Malia and Sasha examined the results on their small screens and tried out some duck faces of their own.

Click here to read more.

01/21/2013 5:44 PM EST

Sasha And Malia Obama To Hit Teen Milestones

The AP reports:

That's how it goes with kids. You hardly notice how fast they're growing up, then suddenly big sis is nearly as tall as Mom and the little one is a tween, gently sassing Dad.

On the inaugural platform again four years later, a more mature Malia Obama, 14, and Sasha, 11, smiled, sometimes giggled, and chatted with their cousin Avery Robinson as they awaited their father's arrival. Sasha bounced on her feet a bit as if chilly in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, and later huddled in her seat. Malia, looking poised in calf-high black boots, rivaled her mother's 5 feet 11 inches. Like any girls their age, they whipped out their smartphones in the parade reviewing stand to take photos.

Click here to read more.