January 20th, 2009
03:54 PM ET
8 months ago

Obama calls on lawmakers to join in 'civility and urgency'

The president and the first lady participated in the tradition lunch on Capitol Hill after the swearing in ceremony.
The president and the first lady participated in the tradition lunch on Capitol Hill after the swearing in ceremony.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A little more than two hours after taking the oath of office Tuesday, President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to reflect "what we know are in the hearts of the American people."

In brief remarks at a congressional luncheon, the new president echoed his campaign theme, saying, "What's happening today is not about me. It is about the American people. They understand that we have arrived at a moment of great challenge for our nation, a time of peril, but also extraordinary promise.

"And by being here today, and by participating in innumerable ways across cities and small towns, and suburbs all across the country, they are demonstrating the readiness to answer history's call, and to step up and give back and take responsibility for serving the common purpose of remaking our nation."

Americans, Obama said, "have come together across races and regions and stations. Now we have to do the same. Now it falls to us, the people's representatives, to give our fullest measure of devotion to the cause of freedom and liberty and justice, decency, and dignity. And our chambers should reflect what we know are in the hearts of the American people."

He called on the crowd to "rededicate ourselves to fulfilling the sacred charge the American people have given to us. I'd like all of us to come together with a sense of purpose and civility and urgency."

While there will be disagreements, "and I assure you our administration will make mistakes," Obama said, Americans expect "a sense not of simply our trying to advance our own aims but trying to advance theirs. And I'm confident we can do so."

Obama began by saying his prayers were with Sen. Ted Kennedy, who collapsed at the luncheon in the Capitol's Statuary Hall while Obama was out of the room. A hospital spokeswoman later said Kennedy was alert and talking to family members.

Ending his brief remarks, Obama told the crowd, "Thank you all for this great honor, and I look forward to working with you in the years to come."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Steele Curtain

    Civility and urgency have been absent from the Pelosi House and the Reid Senate.

    January 20, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  2. Sam

    And he shall become one of the Greatest U.S President ever to be elected by the People who serves thee People.

    January 20, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. AK

    That is the president I have waited for my whole life! God be with me as he navigates us through these tough waters ahead.

    January 20, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. Florida John

    Of course he does. They didn't the last 8 years and now they want to. I say give them hell. Civility works both ways. You have to give inorder to receive.

    January 20, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. janelle

    obama i hope you,your wife,and your childrens take care. brinkley school district loved your speech. i hope someday we all as blacks have an opportunity to run for president because we all know that we can run forit. when you made your speech you reminded me of {

    January 20, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. Virgil Harcourt

    The President now needs to follower through with all the promises he has made and if he can he will be one of our greatest Presidents. If he can't then he will just be another President. Getting off of foreign oil will be his greatest accomplishment.

    January 20, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Anna

    The Day, The Time has come!!! long overdue!!!, now we need to buckle-up and start the hard work ahead of us. We all need to help the President succeed.. I myself needs a job!

    January 20, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. Robin

    I've never been so proud of my country or my president. The time for civility and urgency is NOW. 80 percent of us are behind Obama. I hope Congress puts aside its partisanship, listens to US and gets down to business to help America become again what it really is: an incredible, generous, innovative, powerful, wonderful land of possiblities.

    January 20, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Purple Microdot

    Steele Curtain January 20th, 2009 3:57 pm ET

    Civility and urgency have been absent from the Pelosi House and the Reid Senate.
    _____________________________________________________

    Steele: I partially agree with this statement. I believe that Pelosi and Reid understand the urgency of all that confronts us, but they have not always behaved with civility. I'm a huge BHO fan so please understand... but I agree that Pelosi and Reid need to tone down the partisan rancor and get on board with the new plan.

    January 20, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. Ernie in LA

    Is it common for the stock market to be down over 300 points on the day a new president takes office? This should be a time of new and better things to come.

    January 20, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. EW

    Steele Curtain January 20th, 2009 3:57 pm ET

    Civility and urgency have been absent from the Pelosi House and the Reid Senate.

    --------------------------------
    Got that right. Leopards can't change their spots, either.

    January 20, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. THE OLD TIMER

    step down while you can we dont need another black holiday for a slain leader

    January 20, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  13. Jim Speiser

    My fellow Americans, welcome to "Someday."

    January 20, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Civilization

    Probably the most civilized person alive, so mature, experienced and qualified (?)

    January 20, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. Ed B

    Good to see that you're seeing the bigger picture Old Timer. Unbelievable that that's all you can think of.

    January 20, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. MF

    A great day in our history – excited we are to move forward with new hope and promise, elated we are the past eight years are behind us.

    January 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. jane doe

    Civility was definitely absent from that benediction prayer from Rev. Lowery today. Didn't see much civility from the crowd that booed President Bush either.

    January 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. manhandler

    The gushing, slobbering schlock is on a rampage. Witness the CNN headline on the home page. "Obama raises his hand and lifts a nation." OH puleeeeze. Love the part about "We are the peoples representatives." Oh, forgot to put in the part about "We are the representatives of the people who give us the most money."

    Here's a news flash for ya. "NOTHINGS GONNA CHANGE" We the great American sheep have re-elected most all the incumbents from the Congress that had the lowest approval ratings in history. Now lets all settle down and watch all the same haruumphing old stuffed shirts change NOTHING!

    January 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  19. Jesse Brown

    "what we know are in the hearts of the American people."

    Oh how much this statement means so much and on a day of great promise and change taking place in our government at the Executive Branch this needs to be a banner hung up over the halls of the Capitol. So the Senators and House members can be reminded daily as they go about the peoples business for which they are entrusted to do and took an oath to see it through. At this point in our history of a young country we should remove the titles of Republican and Democrats and simply and humbly be labeled Americans. We must come together and put aside the issues of party politcs that have so long infested the Chambers of this Capitol. Rather open the clinched hands of our parties and let the desire of the American people drive them to reach out to the direction of HOPE and Change for the better of this country and the people.

    As for me I going to sit back and light up a BIG CIGAR and enjoy the ride, cause with HOPE and CHANGE in the air it is going to be a ride to remember.

    January 20, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. Greed is not good

    That means Boehner needs to resign.

    January 20, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. No Incumbents 2010

    "...and to step up and give back and take responsibility for serving the common purpose of remaking our nation."

    Does this scare anyone else?

    January 20, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  22. OMG What?

    ja

    January 20, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  23. john w

    'civility' is a word that loony leftist abhor...

    January 20, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  24. steve

    Yeah, right.

    January 20, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |