Preparing for Inauguration Day

(CBS News) As President Obama's first term morphs into his second, there's no change in his agenda -- major battles with Congress over federal spending and gun control.

But for the next couple of days -- a vacation from gridlock and a window for celebration.

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Last minute preparations are underway at the Capitol, where the president will take the oath of office, and at the parade reviewing stand in front of the White House.

Because the Constitution says that presidential terms end at noon on January 20th, that's when a president is sworn in -- even if, like tomorrow, it's on a Sunday.

But on Monday -- which is also the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King -- President Obama will take the oath again, make a speech, and ride in the inaugural parade.

Four years ago, an estimated 1.8 million people came to the inauguration. This year, organizers expect fewer than half that number.

Presidential historian Allan Lichtman said though expectations are much lower for the second inaugural, the president still has an important job to do on Inauguration Day.

"He has got to now be the guy in charge," he said. "The guy who inspires the American people and who gets them behind his principles and his policies."

The president clearly hopes to make his second term historic. His staff says he'll be far more aggressive as he takes on Republicans in the House over spending, gun control, immigration and tax reform.

But this weekend, as he takes the oath on Bibles which belonged to President Lincoln and Dr. King, President Obama wants to remind the nation of its traditions.

In a video from the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the president said the inauguration plays an important role "in promoting a common good," and serves as a reminder that the nation is "carrying out our original responsibilities."

And when all of the hoopla is over -- after the parade and the inaugural balls -- the president will return to fight the same battles. But the hope is that it won't just be business-as-usual.

To watch Bill Plante's full report, click on the video player above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent