WASHINGTON -- Dick Harpootlian, the leader of the S.C. Democratic Party, had something he wanted to share with President Barack Obama at the White House just before the president's inauguration Monday to a second term.
Harpootlian, who in April 2007 had been among the first prominent Democrats to endorse Obama's maiden presidential run, was with Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and 150 other party leaders at a brunch in the White House East Room.
"Your first four years were great," Harpootlian told Obama.
"The next four years are going to be better," the president responded.
Harpootlian was planning to cap off a whirlwind five days of VIP receptions and ceremonies Monday night by going with his wife, Jamie, to the two official presidential inaugural balls attended by the Obamas, followed by a scheduled meeting Tuesday morning of the Democratic National Committee.
"Seeing President Obama in the celebratory week is much different than four years ago," Harpootlian said Monday. "I see a confident president who is committed to moving his agenda and is not going to let anyone stand in his way."
Thousands of other South Carolinians -- including House of Representatives Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, lawyers, lobbyists, legislators, Capitol Hill aides, Target cashiers and university students -- celebrated an inauguration that some said was more significant than Obama's first one in January 2009.
"The first one, people could call it an anomaly," Clyburn said. "Not the second time, after he got re-elected with a 5 million-vote cushion. That validates the president."
Many of the Palmetto State natives attended the South Carolina State Society Presidential Inaugural Ball on Sunday night and were on the National Mall on Monday for Obama's ceremonial swearing-in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.
A number of the celebrants also made a pilgrimage to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which opened in August 2011. It's the first memorial on the Mall dedicated to a non-president and to an African-American.
Tyrone Dash, a mathematics professor at The Citadel said Obama's second inauguration had special significance to him because it fell on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday to celebrate the slain civil rights leader's birthday.
"My family was very active in the civil rights movement," Dash said. "This is the culmination of receiving a reward for their efforts. I just needed to be here to celebrate Barack Obama being president."