Obama wants inauguration outside

January 16, 2009 8:18:17 PM PST
President-elect Barack Obama is determined that cold weather won't force the inaugural ceremony and his address inside the Capitol, the lawmaker in charge of the event said Friday. And the latest weather report for Washington on Tuesday predicts high temperatures in the mid-30s and mostly cloudy skies -- far warmer than the 7 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures that forced President Ronald Reagan's 1985 inauguration inside the Rotunda.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the committee that has planned the inauguration, is confident the ceremony will stay outside -- and it's Obama's call. With up to 2 million people expected for the event, moving it inside is a last resort.

"He wants it outside," Feinstein said of Obama.

Just in case, the contingency plan for an indoor ceremony is likely for a ceremony in the Rotunda.

In addition to Reagan, weather forced the inaugurations of James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and William Howard Taft inside the Capitol. But John F. Kennedy's inauguration was held outside despite eight inches of snow and a noontime temperature of 22 degrees.

Separately, Feinstein said 1 to 2 million people are expected to make their way to Washington for the swearing in and inaugural parade. But she conceded that the drumbeat of warnings about how difficult it will be to travel into the city may dampen turnout.

The District of Columbia originally projected up to 10,000 charter buses, Feinstein said. But on Friday, D.C. officials said that 2,700 buses have registered for inaugural parking.

Some 240,000 tickets have been issued for the festivities at the Capitol, with 28,000 seats.

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