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Biden's inauguration challenge is to unite America

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The theme for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration will be "America United," an issue that's long been a central focus for Biden but one that's taken on added weight in the wake of the violence at the U.S. Capitol last week. (Jan. 15)

Video Transcript

ALEXANDRA JAFFE: The theme the Inaugural Committee announced is "America United," and this sort of goes in keeping with what Joe Biden has talked about from the beginning of his campaign. He's promised to be a unifier, but that task has become both a much bigger task and a much more difficult task after the actions at the Capitol last week, the violent insurrection really at the Capitol.

MATTHEW COSTELLO: The closest comparison I can think of would probably be, you know, Abraham Lincoln's inaugurals because you're talking about in 1861, seven states have already seceded from the Union. And then by April, you know, the United States is having a Civil War. Four years later when Lincoln takes a second inaugural, the war-- the end of the war is in sight.

And if ever there was an opportunity for a president to renounce and denounce the Confederacy, to denounce insurrection, to denounce people who decided to raise arms against the United States government, he doesn't do it. I mean, Lincoln calls for reconciliation. He alludes to this idea that all Americans are responsible for the Civil War, not just the South. And that's something that their generation has to live with and they have to try to figure out a way forward.

ALEXANDRA JAFFE: So some of that artwork representing those Americans that won't be here on inauguration day is already going up, but it's going up against a backdrop of extreme security measures that are already being erected in case of another violent protest on inauguration day. So it's a pretty striking juxtaposition of what I think Biden would describe as the hope of America and what America really has been for the past couple of weeks. Out of many unusual aspects of this inauguration, one of the biggest will be that the former outgoing president, President Trump, won't be there. He's not attending.

And Joe Biden actually said that he's totally fine with that. That it's good for the nation, he believes, that Donald Trump stayed home. But in his place, Vice President Pence will be there. He and his wife will be attending the inauguration, again, in a show of bipartisan support for Joe Biden's legitimacy and in keeping with a peaceful transition of power that I think all Americans expect and that we want to see on inauguration day.