LI officials enjoy Inauguration Day

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Charles Schumer admitted to some nerves Monday in introducing President Barack Obama at his swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the Capitol.

He noted that in his four decades of public service, he had never spoken before 800,000 people -- as if many have.

Schumer, a Democrat, may have been the day's most ubiquitous elected official, besides the president. He chaired the inaugural ceremony on the National Mall, served as its de-facto emcee -- mouthing "wow" after singer Kelly Clarkson's performance -- and later helped host the presidential luncheon, where North Fork winery Bedell Cellars provided the wine.


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Schumer wore a broad grin as he stood to the side of the dais, and it never left his face, except when it came time for him to deliver his own three-minute address, one he had practiced over and over again.

In his remarks before Obama gave his address, Schumer said the frequency of inaugurations never removes their luster.

"No matter how many times one witnesses this event, its simplicity, its innate majesty, and most of all it's meaning -- that sacred yet cautious entrusting of power from we the people to our chosen leader -- never fails to make one's heart beat faster," Schumer said.

Some members of Long Island's congressional delegation also got close to Obama.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said he greeted the president as he left the stage and Obama replied by saying, "I really appreciate what you've been doing," which King took as a reference to King's lobbying for approval of federal aid to superstorm Sandy victims.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), chairman of the House Democrats' campaign committee, had a seat on the dais just to the side of Obama. Israel, a Mets fan, could be heard at one point noting, "These are like the box seats at Citi Field."

Local elected leaders from Long Island also made the trip to attend inauguration festivities.

While he didn't get near Obama, Nassau County Legis. CarriƩ Solages (D-Elmont) said that standing in the shadows of the Capitol steps to watch the president begin his second term was for him, in a way, more meaningful than witnessing Obama's first, watershed swearing-in ceremony in 2009. Solages then was just out of law school and working in Nassau's human rights department.

"It's just more special to me to be coming back as an elected official, especially as an African-American on Martin Luther King Day," said Solages, 33, of Elmont. "It's almost a spiritual thing for me."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone took in the swearing-in ceremony with his daughter Katie, who turned 5 Monday. Coming just months after Sandy destroyed hundreds of Suffolk homes, Obama's mention of climate change was appreciated, Bellone said. "It gives me some hope that he'll focus on that his second term."

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