Senate leader looks for "fresh start"

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.

“Every four years on Inauguration Day, America shows the world that our major political parties can disagree with civility and mutual respect. It is in this spirit that I congratulate President Obama on his inauguration to a second term and wish him well in the fulfillment of his duty to lead the U.S. at home and abroad over the next four years. The President’s second term represents a fresh start when it comes to dealing with the great challenges of our day; particularly, the transcendent challenge of unsustainable federal spending and debt. Republicans are eager to work with the President on achieving this common goal, and we firmly believe that divided government provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Together, there is much we can achieve,” Senator McConnell said.

The Hill also reports in an e-mail that McConnell sent to supporters quote, "You and I are literally surrounded. The gun-grabbers in the senate are about to launch an all-out-assault on the Second Amendment on your rights and on your freedom."

He also said, "Our freedom is under direct assault from those who want to shred our constitution."

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."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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