Bentley quick to warn federal government

Published 9:04 pm Monday, January 17, 2011

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Robert Bentley began his term as Alabama’s governor Monday with a promise to the people to be a servant leader like Jesus and a warning to the federal government that he won’t let it force policies on his state.

“We will work with the federal government when we can, but they will not dictate our every move,” he said to loud applause.

Bentley’s inauguration played out in front of a state Capitol decoraged with banners portraying the sunrise of a new political day. He completed his transition from physician and former legislator to governor by taking the oath of office on a Bible used by every Alabama governor since 1853 and by Jefferson Davis when he became Confederate president 150 years ago.

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Gray clouds threatening rain gave way to sunshine and temperatures in the 50s minutes before the Republican governor began a 17-minute inaugural address filled with religious references and anti-federal government sentiments.

In a state that has long trumpeted states’ rights, Bentley’s speech was reminiscent of Gov. Fob James’ inauguration in 1995, when James hung a banner across the front of the Capitol showing the 10th Amendment, which reserves rights for the states.

“If nothing else, the 2010 elections told us the people of America are fed up with business as usual. They are tired of partisan politics, and most of them are tired of the federal government,” Bentley said.

“As elected representatives we answer to you the people of Alabama, not to politicians and bureaucrats in Washington. I will defend our right to govern ourselves under our own laws and to make our own decisions without federal interference,” he said to more loud applause.

Bentley said his goal as governor is to be a servant leader in the biblical sense. “Jesus showed his disciples by example that in order to be a great leader, you must first be a servant,” he said.