The crowd spread before Obama is expected to be much smaller than the record 1.8 million who packed the National Mall four years ago to see him sworn in as the nation’s first black president. But the estimates of 600,000 to 800,000 this time still would make it the largest attendance ever for a second presidential inauguration.
Obama has cut back on some of the reveling from four years ago — there will be no concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and only two balls instead of 10. But there will still be elaborate celebration — a long list of top entertainment acts including Beyonce, Katy Perry and Brad Paisley have signed on to perform at the weekend’s events, including the two official balls that are expected to draw around 40,000 people to the Washington Convention Center.
Part of Obama’s weekend also will involve thanking the donors who are contributing toward his committee’s $50 million fundraising goal to put on the celebration. The president and first lady hosted supporters Friday at the White House, and he planned to attend a Sunday night reception at the National Building Museum with more donors.
Obama is trying to expand the National Day of Service that begins the weekend’s events Saturday — a call for Americans across the country to honor King’s legacy by serving their communities. He is hoping the day will become an inaugural tradition and also is looking toward his legacy with the speech.
The president sought advice from a small group of historians during a dinner at the White House last week. Beyond just the mechanics of second inaugural addresses, the dinner focused broadly on how presidents manage their second terms.
Perhaps more than any of his predecessors, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second inaugural address could serve as a model for Obama.