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Obama: Inauguration a chance to celebrate ‘this incredible nation’

In a short speech at the National Building Museum on Sunday night, President Obama thanked his supporters and said his second inauguration was a chance to celebrate “this incredible nation.”

“What we are celebrating is not just the election or swearing-in of a president; what we are doing is celebrating each other and celebrating this incredible nation we call home,” said Obama at a reception for campaign donors and backers of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. 

“And after we celebrate, let's be sure to work as hard as we can to pass on an America that is worthy of our past and our future,” he added, looking ahead to his second term.

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Obama was preceded by first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, all of whom also delivered remarks.

“I’m delivering another speech tomorrow, so tonight I’m going to be pretty brief, because there are a limited amount of good lines and you don’t want to use them all,” Obama joked. “My main purpose tonight is just to say thank you.”

The president said looking around the room he could see people from “every walk of life” who had “invested so much of their heart, soul, time, money and energy.”

“One of the things that made this campaign unique was the degree of investment and ownership people had in this common project of ours, because you understood this was not just about a candidate,” Obama added. “It was not just about Joe Biden or Barack Obama. It was about us and who we are as a nation, what values we cherish, how hard we are willing to fight to make those values live for future generations.”

Vice President Biden, who spoke before Obama, said he had been “honored” to serve with the president, and thanked their supporters for “believing in us.”

“This man’s already done an already remarkable job,” said Biden, citing Obama’s healthcare law, the end of the war in Iraq, the drawdown in Afghanistan and his support for same-sex marriage.

“He’s just getting started,” Biden added to cheers. “In the months ahead we are going to reduce gun violence here in America, we’re going to pass comprehensive immigration reform and we’re going to put this nation’s economy on a sustainable path to the future.”

Obama and Biden were officially sworn in on Sunday morning, but on Monday will take their ceremonial public oaths of office.

The president appeared relaxed and encouraged his supporters to enjoy the Inaugural festivities.

“Feel free to stay up as long as you want; tomorrow’s not a school night,” Obama joked.

The president also praised the first lady, who introduced him to the audience.

“First of all, I love Michelle Obama, and to address the most significant event of this weekend, I love her bangs,” said the president about the first lady’s new hairstyle. “She always looks good.”