Bush takes oath
TAKING THE OATH n George W. Bush takes the oath of office as the 43rd president of the United States Saturday from Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. AP photo
Jan. 21, 2001
WASHINGTON (AP) George Walker Bush, swearing the same oath as his father before him, became America's 43rd president Saturday, pledging to build a single nation of justice and opportunity'' after one of the most turbulent elections in history.
Bush said he would lead with civility, courage, compassion and character.''
Seven members of his Cabinet won swift Senate approval as the Republicans moved in after eight years of Democratic rule. On a day blending inaugural pageantry and protests, Bush succeeded Bill Clinton with a promise to heal the nation's divisions.
People say, Well, gosh, the election was so close, nothing will happen, except for finger pointing and name calling and bitterness,'' Bush said at a luncheon with congressional leaders. I'm here to tell the country that things will get done, that we're going to rise above expectations, that both Republicans and Democrats will come together to do what's right for America.''
The inauguration, witnessed by a crowd stretching out from the West Front of the Capitol, marked the opening of the first Republican-controlled White House and Congress since the Eisenhower era. Spectators were bundled in heavy coats and ponchos on a cold, raw day.
Police in riot gear stood five deep between Bush's motorcade and protesters on the inaugural parade route. An egg was thrown from a group of demonstrators toward Bush's limousine, startling Secret Service agents. A few blocks later an orange was tossed toward his car, rolling past. Police pinned down two protesters who jumped security barriers and got within 30 feet of the limousine.
The new president delighted onlookers when he got out of his car. Protected by heavy security, he walked the last block of the parade holding hands with his wife.
Bush and his extended family watched the inaugural parade with umbrellas overhead during an intermittent hard rain. There were bands, floats, riders on horseback, a precision lawn chair demonstration team even a group of Idaho women in red house dresses and blue aprons who danced with shopping carts.
It was a pomp-filled end to a campaign which saw Bush finish second in the popular vote but a narrow winner in the all-important electoral competition. Departing Vice President Al Gore, Bush's defeated rival, watched the proceedings stoically, a silent reminder of the five-week post-election battle that was stopped by the Supreme Court.
Richard Cheney was sworn is as vice president at 11:57 a.m.
Bush followed at 12:02 p.m., then reached for his father's right hand and hugged him, putting his left hand around his dad's head. The senior Bush wiped away a tear and the new president's eyes welled up, too. It was the second time in American history a son had followed his father to the White House. John Quincy Adams traced his father's steps 176 years ago.
A traditional 21-gun salute marked the change of command as Bush fought back tears again and snapped a salute to the crowd after the National Anthem was played.
In one of his first acts, Bush formally submitted his Cabinet nominations to the Senate. Among those quickly confirmed and sworn into office were Colin Powell as secretary of state, Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, Paul O'Neill as treasury secretary and Spencer Abraham as energy secretary.
Bush signed an executive order establishing ethical standards for his new administration, and moved to halt Clinton's blizzard of executive orders and rules. Among the targets were new Medicare guidelines and environmental protections.
The president also ordered a temporary federal hiring freeze until his new Cabinet members are in place.
In a 15-minute inaugural address, Bush thanked Gore for a contest conducted with spirit and ended with grace.'' Pledging to work for reconciliation, Bush said, Sometimes our differences run so deep it seems we share a continent but not a country.
We do not accept this and will not allow it,'' Bush declared. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity.'' His promise brought a burst of applause from spectators.
It was a day of triumph and glory for the new president and his family, which bears one of the most prominent names in American politics. It began with worship at St. John's Episcopal Church, across Lafayette Park from the White House, and was running late into the night with eight black-tie inaugural balls drawing almost 50,000 revelers.
At the end of his inauguration, Bush was asked how he felt. I feel humbled and honored,'' he replied.
Bush's father, the nation's 41st president but vanquished by Clinton in 1992, watched with pride as his son swore his oath, his left hand resting on the same Bible that George Washington used. Former First Lady Barbara Bush watched with a smile, wearing a transparent rain poncho.
A black limousine, its flags snapping in the wind, carried Bush and Clinton to the Capitol after their meeting at the White House.
Clinton left office with 11th hour pardons for 140 Americans, including his former Whitewater business partner Susan McDougal, brother Roger Clinton, who spent two years in jail in the 1980s on a drug charge, and former CIA Director John Deutch, accused of mishandling national secrets on a home computer. Another pardon went to Patricia Campbell Hearst Shaw for her actions in the 1970s as Patty Hearst.
In the final moments before Bush came calling, Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, were spotted through a window dancing together in the foyer. When the new first family arrived, Bush's wife Laura greeted Mrs. Clinton with, Good morning, senator.''
Clinton wasn't leaving quietly. He spoke to wistful supporters including Cabinet and staff at an unusual rally at Andrews Air Force Base before flying to New York, his newly adopted home state. I left the White House but I'm still here,'' he said at one point. We're not going anywhere.''
Aides organized a second rally to welcome Clinton to New York.
As Bush took his oath of office, wife Laura held the Bible, a wide smile on her face. Twin daughters, 19-year-olds Jenna and Barbara, watched expectantly and broke into grins as their dad finished. A smile kept crossing as he recited the oath. He breathed a deep sigh at the end.
Bush was sworn in by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who voted with the majority in the 5-4 decision that handed him the presidency.