On his first full day in the White House, Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office for the first time as president and summoned economic advisers and top military officials to meetings aimed at making early progress on the change he promised. A prayer breakfast at Washington National Cathedral and an open house at the presidential mansion were also on the schedule of the 44th president, taking office on a promise to fix the battered economy and withdraw U.S. troops from the unpopular war in Iraq on a 16-month timetable. Obama’s first White House meetings as president meshed with quickened efforts in Congress to add top Cabinet officials to the roster of those confirmed on Tuesday and to advance the economic stimulus measure that is a top priority of his administration.
Treasury Secretary-designate Tim Geithner was called before the Senate Finance Committee for a confirmation hearing certain to touch on his disclosure that he had only belatedly paid personal taxes owed earlier in the decade. Separately, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., awaited confirmation as secretary of state. Republicans had refused to permit her confirmation on Tuesday when several other Cabinet officials were approved.
A new poll underscored the sense of anticipation that accompanied Obama into office. The Associated Press-Knowledge Networks survey found that by a 3-1 margin, people feel more optimistic about the country’s future now that Obama has been inaugurated, including 30% of Republicans.