INAUGURATION WATCH: Tradition renewed, church trip

Associated Press
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama ride up Pennsylvania Avenue in the presidential motorcade towards the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, ahead of his ceremonial swearing in during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — AP journalists are fanning out across the capital to cover Inauguration Day as part of a running feed of content and analysis. Here are their reports, which will be updated through the day.

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ON STAGE

President Barack Obama is on the podium, greeting supporters and colleagues, and ready to be inaugurated for his second term — or, at least, "inaugurated," since the official ceremony was conducted Sunday indoors. Today's ceremony is the public version.

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A SEA, NOT AN OCEAN

So, just how many people are on the National Mall for President Barack Obama's second inaugural ceremony?

A lot — but probably not the roughly 1.8 million who jammed it four years ago.

In hours before Obama's public swearing-in, the crowd extends from the Capitol and beyond the Washington Monument to around the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

But, though the crowd has grown thicker this morning — especially beyond the ticketed section — it doesn't seem as packed as in 2008.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee has announced that the non-ticketed public viewing areas on the National Mall east of 7th Street are full and now closed.

— Donna Cassata and Mary Clare Jalonick— Twitter http://twitter.com/DonnaCassataAP and http://twitter.com/mcjalonick

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COOPERATE, PLEASE

"I hope the people in the Capitol can work together so we can get some things accomplished." — Lolita Allen, 50, from Detroit, who said she and some friends made a last-minute decision on Friday to drive to Washington for the inauguration.

— Sam Hananel — Twitter http://twitter.com/SHananelAP

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ALMOST TIME

Former presidents and celebrities. Supreme Court justices. Politicians of all stripes. And masses of American humanity.

It's almost time for the presidential inauguration. Bands are playing, and everyone's almost ready for the way that Americans renew the executive-branch portion of their democracy — and renew the promises of their country — as they have for more than 200 years.

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GOTTA GO

Time for the all-important porta-potty report: There are lots and lots of them, up and down each side of the Mall, which means it takes a lot more time to get a cup of coffee then it does, well, to no longer have one.

— Richard Lardner — Twitter http://twitter.com/rplardner

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SOME OPPOSITION

Two signs held by people on Pennsylvania Avenue going toward the Capitol: "God Hates Obama" and "America Is Doomed."

— Darlene Superville — Twitter http://twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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HEADED FOR THE HILL

President Barack Obama is headed to Capitol Hill now for his inauguration ceremony. He's traveling along Pennsylvania Avenue, a road lined with onlookers and all types of military personnel and police officers.

— Darlene Superville — Twitter http://twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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GOING MADISONIAN?

Michael Oreskes, the AP's senior managing editor for U.S. news and author of a book on how the U.S. Constitution functions in society, offers this long-term look at what Barack Obama is expected to say today:

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Many of Obama's more liberal supporters complained in his first term that he wasn't tough enough, or partisan enough. That he was too ready to compromise on everything from health care to economic stimulus. Since his re-election he has projected a sense that he will be playing a stronger hand in his second term and will be tougher. Perhaps so.

But today, to hear his staff tell it, Obama, the former constitutional law professor, will channel James Madison and speak about the centrality of compromise.

"He is going to say that our political system does not require us to resolve all of our differences or settle all of our disputes," says his adviser, David Plouffe, "but it is absolutely imperative that our leaders try and seek common ground when it can and should exist. That s going to be a very important part of the speech."

That is the essence of the system Madison and his colleagues designed and enshrined in the Constitution, a complicated scheme of government that Americans have found frustrating at various times in the nation's history.

It is a comment on our age that a re-elected president needs to use a healthy dose of his widely watched speech to make the case for it all over again.

— Michael Oreskes — Twitter http://twitter.com/MichaelOreskes

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DOING IT AGAIN

The latest on the day from AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti:

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Sure, today is about history. Inaugurations are a tradition nearly as old as the country itself.

But today's also all for show. It's like so much of our politics these days.

Consider that the president already is one day into his second term. He took the oath of office during a private ceremony on Sunday at the White House to adhere to the Constitution's mandate that presidents start their terms on Jan. 20. Now, he'll do it again in public before hundreds of thousands of people, and millions more watching from home. There will be no suspense. There will be no climax. We know what's going to happen, because it already did.

Just about the only things we don't know:

—What exactly the president will say in his inaugural address.

—What designer the first lady will wear to the balls.

—Liz Sidoti — Twitter http://twitter.com/lsidoti

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PASTOR'S WORDS

President Barack Obama and his family are done with the church services and headed for the rest of their day. At the service, Pastor Andy Stanley asked what people do when they realize they are the most powerful person in the room.

"You leverage that power for the benefit of other people in the room," he said. "Jesus would say to do less than that would be to declare yourself greater than me."

To the president, Stanley said: "Mr. President, you have an awfully big room. My prayer to you is to leverage that power for the stewardship of our nation."

After that, Obama stood to receive a blessing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie.

— Darlene Superville — Twitter http://twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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BIPARTISAN COFFEE

"Headed to the (at)WhiteHouse with my wife Diana for coffee with the President, Vice President and their lovely wives." — Tweet from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

— Jim Kuhnhenn — Twitter http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn

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WHAT IT FEELS LIKE

It's either a ghost town or a party, depending on where you are in the nation's capital.

Sherry Watkins, 51, and her daughter Cathleen, 17, of nearby Centreville, Va., breezed onto trains with little apparent delay at the Vienna Metro station in northern Virginia, and reminisced about the mob scene of 2009. "Four years ago, it was all standing and we couldn't get our hands up" on the Metro, Sherry Watkins says.

Indeed, by mid-morning, Metro subway trains through downtown Washington are no more crowded than they would be on a typical workday — except virtually no one was going to work. Although Metro is urging riders coming in from the suburbs not to change trains, passengers had little trouble switching at the busy Metro Center station.

Terry Alexander, a Democratic state representative from South Carolina, and his wife, Starlee Alexander, were taking a leisurely ride from their downtown hotel to Union Station. Four years ago, they had to ride a bus to the Pentagon from their Virginia hotel and walk across the 14th Street Bridge to the National Mall. "This is calm," Terry Alexander says. "Last time, we couldn't even get down in the tunnel to get to the trains."

The east side of Capitol Hill is virtually empty, devoid of people for several square blocks, except for police officers. It was the west side of Capitol Hill that was jammed, as people waited to get into the secure area to watch Obama's public swearing-in. Near the podium, folding chairs hold blue blankets and place cards. Former Democratic leader Tom Daschle is to sit next to Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The president and vice president get padded, wing back style blue chairs.

Parts of the parade route also are filling up. Thousands of people are waiting in security lines that stretched a block to gain access to spots that are accessible to the general public without a special ticket. And the crowd is growing thicker around the National Mall. Long lines snake from a refreshment stand near the National Air and Space Museum.

Michael Kimbro of Atlanta, Ga., has been in the line for an hour and is still 30 feet from the stand's window. "It's a little frustrating," Kimbro says, "but it's well worth it."

—Matthew Barakat, Stephen Ohlemacher, Ben Nuckols, Donna Cassata, Richard Lardner

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'MORE THAN THE HERE AND NOW'

"It's really important for her to understand that her potential is endless. You have so much to live and look forward to, for yourself personally, for our country — just to see that there's more than the here and now." — Kenya Strong, a 37-year-old financial analyst, on her daughter's attendance at the 2013 inauguration.

— David Dishneau — Twitter http://twitter.com/ddishneau

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Follow AP reporters contributing to Inauguration Watch on their Twitter handles, listed throughout the text.

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