PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, Jan 17, AFP) Barack Obama will herald his new era of change Saturday by rolling back the years to launch four days of inaugural festivities on a slow train to Washington.
He will ride the rails from Philadelphia, the cradle of US independence more than 200 years ago, to marbled Union Station less than a mile from the spot where he will be sworn in as the first African-American president on Tuesday. The rumbling “whistle stop” journey is part homage to Obama's hero, former president Abraham Lincoln, like Obama a former Illinois legislator who capped a cross-country train ride along the same route on the way to his inauguration in 1861.
|More than a thousand four inch high mini-figures are shown on display as Legoland unveils a replica of the 56th presidential inauguration in Carlsbad, California on Friday. REUTERS
But whereas Lincoln and subsequent presidents once spent days wending their way across the frigid prairies, Obama, a Blackberry-toting product of the jet age, will trundle along on the railroad for just one day.
He will clamber aboard his train, carrying selected supporters, his Secret Service protectors and a big media pack at Philadelphia's 30th Street station to start his 140 mile (225 kilometre) trek southwest.
The train will first slow to a crawl in the town of Claymont, Delaware to allow Obama greet wellwishers.
First stop: Wilmington, Delaware, where Obama will pick up vice-president-to-be Joseph Biden in the small state, which he served in the US Senate until his resignation on Thursday.
Biden might know every sleeper and inch of track -- each day for his 36 years in Congress he commuted to Washington from his home city, which now offers an unwitting reminder of the economic malaise as a hub of the credit card industry.
With his number two in tow, Obama, in a plush Pullman style-carriage with cherry wood fittings which dates from 1930, will then head to the gritty Maryland city of Baltimore.
His outdoor event, a throwback to his thronged election campaign rallies, is expected to draw a vast crowd to a War Memorial square, in a city with a large African American population.
Obama will arrive in Washington amid historic echoes in the early evening, for the last time before his presidency.
Bush a 'good man' but mistaken: Obama
WASHINGTON, Jan 16, (AFP) - President-elect Barack Obama said Friday President George W. Bush was a “good guy” who loved his country, but warned he would leave the United States struggling with the result of “bad choices.”
When he is sworn in on Tuesday, Obama will inherit two foreign wars and the worst economy since the 1930s Great Depression with the budget deficit forecast to hit more than a trillion dollars this year. “If you look at my statements throughout the campaign, I always thought he was a good guy,” Democrat Obama said, when asked in a CNN interview whether he still stood by his campaign trail criticisms of the Republican president.
“I think personally he is a good man who loves his family and loves his country and I think he made the best decisions that he could at times under some very difficult circumstances.
“It does not detract from my assessment that over the last several years we have made a series of bad choices and we are now going to be inheriting the consequences of a lot of those bad choices.”