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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How a Tampa Bay Times reporter witnessed an odd moment in presidential inauguration history

The Panasonic RR-US361 that reporter Wes Allison used to record Obama's do-over oath

Alex Leary | Times

The Panasonic RR-US361 that reporter Wes Allison used to record Obama's do-over oath

20

January

WASHINGTON - Presidential history lives in the Washington bureau of the Tampa Bay Times.

Inside a desk drawer is a Panasonic voice recorder that captured one of the oddest moments in inaugural history. Former Times reporter Wes Allison used it to capture President Barack Obama taking the oath of office for the second time in January 2009.

Wes, now a lawyer in his home state of South Carolina, was the "pool" reporter on Obama's first day. His job was to follow Obama and report the details to the press corps at large. "No pressure or anything," as he wrote at the time. The day went long and then got interesting.

As I type, I am sitting in a cramped chair by the door of the James S. Brady press Briefing Room in the West Wing.

Every time the door opens, which is about every five seconds, a blast of freezing air hits me. It is 6:30 p.m., and I have eaten only pretzels since 7 a.m. I have filed six pool reports. In five minutes, I am told, we will load into the vans bound for a ball in honor of Obama's campaign, transition and inaugural staff. (That will be my seventh report.)

Five minutes have turned into an hour and half when the pool reporters are ushered suddenly into the Map Room.

Chief Justice John Roberts is there to re-administer the oath he flubbed the day before.

"We decided that because it was so much fun...," Obama jokes, sitting on a couch.

Roberts dons his black robe and asks: "Are you ready to take the oath?"

"I am, and we're going to do it very slowly," Obama replies.

The oath takes 25 seconds.

Roberts smiles. "Congratulations, again."

Obama says, "Thank you, sir."

Smattering of applause.

I take back what I said before. That was the news of the day. I was 10 feet away.

Read the full account here.

[Last modified: Friday, January 20, 2017 9:19am]

    

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