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WASHINGTON - Barack Obama faces the challenge of reassuring Americans they can rebound from a time of economic peril in an inaugural address that is one of the most eagerly anticipated.
Obama's speech, to be delivered from the steps of the US Capitol moments after he is sworn into office at midday today, will give him his best opportunity to advance the goals of his White House before a massive audience.
With millions of Americans without jobs, the US economy crippled and US troops fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama has no shortage of expectations for his speech, which he has been working on for weeks.
"The speech will describe the moment we're in and the spirit required to emerge from this crisis even stronger and more united," said Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro.
Former presidential speech writers said they expected Obama to avoid outlining a laundry list of proposals and instead use his lofty oratory to describe the challenges Americans face and a way out of them.Not only Americans will stop what they are doing today to hear the new leader. People the world over are interested.
In Japan, many bookstores now have a section dedicated to Obama, and ahead of his inauguration this month, a collection of his speeches.
For inspiration, Obama has been reading inaugural addresses from presidents past.
Obama, a big fan of fellow Illinois man Abraham Lincoln, told USA Today he felt Lincoln's speech was the best and John Kennedy's second best. He said he was reasonably happy with his own speech "but we can still do some tinkering".
"My job in this speech is just to remind people of the road we've travelled and the extraordinary odds that we've already overcome. We've been through tougher times before and we're going to get through these," he said. - Reutersl See Page 17