Alexander Will Be Standing With the President

On inauguration day in Washington, Sen. Lamar Alexander will be spending a lot of time with President Barack Obama, reports Michael Collins.
The Maryville Republican and a handful of other Congress members will begin inauguration day by sharing morning coffee with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House. Afterward, they’ll ride in the presidential motorcade to the U.S. Capitol, where the president and vice president will be sworn in for a second term and Obama will deliver his inaugural address.
Before Obama speaks, however, Alexander will take to the podium, look out on the National Mall and address the million or so spectators himself. His will be just a two-minute speech, but the whole world will be watching, so he wants to make sure he chooses exactly the right words for such a significant and historic event.
“It’s an important two minutes to me,” Alexander said. “This is a rare moment in American history, and I want to use the time well. This tradition we have of the peaceful transfer or reaffirmation of immense power is extraordinary.”
Alexander landed a speaking slot at the swearing-in ceremony Jan. 21 and an important supporting role in other inauguration activities because he is on the congressional committee that has been planning the events.
Alexander and other members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies are in charge of the swearing-in, which will take place on the Capitol’s West Front, and a luncheon that will follow immediately afterward in the Capitol’s stately Statuary Hall. The inaugural parade, balls and other activities are handled by a separate group, the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Many of the day’s events are dictated by tradition. The congressional inaugural committee’s job is to see that those traditions are carried out again this year and to avoid the problems that have marred previous inaugurals, like four years ago when thousands of ticket holders were left waiting in a tunnel to the National Mall and missed the ceremonies.
“We want to try to make sure we avoid those sorts of problems,” Alexander said.

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