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Bush promises unity, flexes muscle

President George W. Bush and first lady Laura wave to crowds at an inaugural ball  

January 21, 2001
Web posted at: 2:35 PM EST (1935 GMT)


Student News Archive

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Inauguration Day for President George W. Bush started with prayer, ended with partying and sandwiched in between a promise to build "a single nation of justice and opportunity."

Of all the inaugural activities and statements, that vow summarizes the challenge facing the 43rd U.S. president, who must unify a country fractured by having a leader who did not secure the support of the majority of voters.

During Saturday's inaugural parade, an egg hit the presidential limousine. Despite the presence of hundreds of protesters upset by Bush's win in the contentious Florida recount, police reported only five arrests. He is the first president in more than 100 years to reach the office without winning the popular vote, and protesters were loud and active in Washington.

Bush assumed the presidency from former President Bill Clinton just after noon Saturday and quickly moved to assert his new power. He formally nominated members of his Cabinet, signed six of the seven commissions for Cabinet members approved by the Senate and ordered federal agencies to suspend implementing new regulations within an hour of taking office.

Inauguration Day images

Bush inaugural address

Jason Bellini: Protests at the Bush inauguration
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"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," Bush said at a congressional luncheon in his honor Saturday.

During his inaugural address, Bush carefully eluded to the political divisions that became apparent in his election victory. "While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country," he said. "... Sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country."

What's happening

The presidential inauguration is the formal induction into the nation's highest office. The inaugural address is different for every president, but the 35-word oath of office has not changed since the 18th century. The oath is the only part of an inauguration required by law. George Washington added the phrase "so help me God" to the end of his oath, and almost every president since has added it.


President George W. Bush used his address to stress the need to unify the country. His victory marked the first time in more than a century that a president did not win the popular vote. In 1888, Republican Benjamin Harrison won an Electoral College majority and ousted Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland despite receiving fewer popular votes. Bush faces the challenge of turning his policy agenda into legislative reality, which might be difficult with a Congress that is split evenly along party lines.

New president, VP, families attend prayer service
January 21, 2001

Bush-Cheney transition
White House

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