The Washington Times - January 17, 2009, 11:40AM

PHILADELPHIA Inauguration madness officially begins today, and President-elect Barack Obama kicked off his Whistle Stop tour here at the train station this morning.



Jon Ward will be blogging from on board the Obama Express for our Inauguration Blog all day here, and we filed this story based on Obama’s first stop:


President-elect Barack Obama Saturday challenged Americans to pursue a “new declaration of independence” and called for them to honor the founding fathers by solving big challenges, paying tribute to history as he began his own journey to become the nation’s 44th president.

The 11-minute speech at the first stop of his Whistle Stop train trip from Philadelphia into Washington marked the beginning of what will be a massive inaugural celebration.

The new First Family will stop in Wilmington to pick up Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., will stop in Baltimore and arrive at Union Station in Washington Saturday evening.

Mr. Obama, a Democrat who will be the first black U.S. president, said marking history in Philadelphia was fitting because the “fragile experiment” of American democracy was born here.

“We are here today not simply to pay tribute to our first patriots but to take up the work that they began,” said Mr. Obama, framed by the hall’s at least 10 American flags and joined by special guests invited by his inaugural committee.

Read the full story here.


Here’s some video I shot inside the station of one of Obama’s money lines.



Here’s what he’s saying:


We recognize that such enormous challenges will not be solved quickly. There will be false starts and setbacks, frustrations and disappointments. And we will be called to show patience even as we act with fierce urgency.

But we should never forget that we are the heirs of that first band of patriots, ordinary men and women who refused to give up when it all seemed so improbable; and who somehow believed that they had the power to make the world anew. That is the spirit that we must reclaim today.

On another topic, please submit questions here for my debut chat on The Washington Times Web site. You can post questions now, and I will answer them Monday at noon.


 Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent,
The Washington Times


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