Toughest challenges still to come for Obama
Barack Obama will become the first black president of the United States next month after a gruelling two-year battle.
But the 44th president's toughest challenges are still to come as he faces two wars, the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression and must also repair his country's international reputation, badly damaged by the unpopular policies of President George Bush.
It is this latter theme that will dominate his swearing-in ceremony at noon on January 20 when a new era in US politics will begin.
"At this moment of great challenge and great change, renewing the promise of America begins with renewing the idea that in America, we rise or fall as one nation and one people," Mr Obama said.
"That sense of unity and shared purpose is what this inauguration will reflect."
Mr Obama's aides said he wants to restore opportunity and possibility for all, and re-establish "America's standing as a beacon of hope around the world".
But Mr Obama will also have to manage "over-inflated expectations" of his administration after promising he would "change the world" while in office.
He has gathered together a so-called team of rivals in his cabinet, including his former rival Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and Mr Bush's defence secretary Robert Gates, for the task.
Attention will focus on the critical first 100 days of his administration as he enters the Oval Office with a clear mandate for change, winning the presidency by sweeping a series of key battleground states in a landslide electoral college victory.
While his rivals jumped from one crisis to another, the 47-year-old Democrat kept his optimistic message of hope and change constant and clear from day one.
He became known for his calm temperament and as a leader who thought first and acted later – a welcome change and a sharp contrast to the widely-held perceptions of his predecessor.
As he delivered his victory speech in Chicago's Grant Park, many of the tens of thousands of supporters in the crowd were crying, and even political pundits on major US TV networks wiped tears from their eyes, as the man who could transform race relations in America ascended to the highest office in the land.
He said it was time to put "hands on the arc of history and bend it once more to the hope of a better day".
"Change has come to America," he said.
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