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Senate leader looks for 'fresh start'

Monday - 1/21/2013, 3:30pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate's top Republican says President Barack Obama's second term represents "a fresh start when it comes to dealing with the great challenges of our day."

Mitch McConnell's statement followed the public swearing-in of Obama for a second term, and an 18-minute inaugural address in which Obama urged Congress to find common ground over the next four years.

During the address, Obama previewed an ambitious second-term agenda. He said in an era of looming budget cuts, the nation has a commitment to costly programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

He devoted several sentences to the threat of climate change, saying that failure to confront it "would betray our children and future generations." It's an issue he barely dealt with in his first term.

Obama said the country "cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well" and an increasing number "barely make it."

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden earlier were sworn in, as part of a public ceremony that followed their private oath-taking yesterday -- the day the Constitution says the second term begins.

The crowd that extended across the National Mall didn't rival the record-breaking gathering of four years ago, but still numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

Obama took a moment to gaze over the crowd before retreating into the Capitol after his speech. He said, "I want to take a look, one more time. I'm not going to see this again."

%@AP Links

187-a-13-(President Obama, in inaugural address)-"as reasoned debate (applause fades)"-President Obama says there's an urgent need for decisions on critical issues, without showmanship and grandstanding. (21 Jan 2013)

<> 00:13 "as reasoned debate (applause fades)"

186-a-09-(President Barack Obama, in his second inaugural address)-"build its future"-President Barack Obama says the nation must make the hard choices necessary to reduce the cost of health care and the size of the deficit. (21 Jan 2013)

<> 00:09 "build its future"

185-w-36-(Mark Smith, AP White House correspondent, with President Obama)--President Obama has opened his second term with inaugural plea for unity -- and a promise to pursue an agressive policy agena. AP White House Correspondent Mark Smith reports. ((Opens with trumpet fanfare)) (21 Jan 2013)

<> 00:36

GRAPHICSBANK: US President Barack Obama (l) receives the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts (bottom, c) during ceremonial swearing-in at US Presidential inauguration ceremony with US First Lady Michelle Obama (r) holding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln bibles, Washington DC, on texture with 57TH INAUGURATION lettering, finished graphic (21 Jan 2013)

APPHOTO CAP183: President Barack Obama speaks to Vice President Joe Biden on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, following their ceremonial swearing-in during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (21 Jan 2013)

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