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Obama's First White House Tour; Palin Pushback

Aired November 10, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: president-elect Obama's historic house call, face to face with President Bush at the White House. Along with the remarkable pictures, we have got details on the mood and what was discussed, as well as new reporting on how Mr. Obama is conducting his transition to power.
Also tonight, big bang -- new information about how quickly the Obama administration may try and move to fix the economy and take on other campaign promises. Will the Republicans cooperate? Will the president's fellow Democrats?

And later, Palin pushback -- home in Alaska, cooking moose chili, literally, stewing about her treatment on the trail, and even now stirring the pot. She's speaking out to 360's Gary Tuchman about charges she was a no-nothing diva, charges coming from inside her own campaign.

We begin tonight, though, with images of democracy in action and history being written, president-elect Barack Obama and his wife visiting President Bush and the first lady at the White House, a major step in the transfer of presidential power, which began last Tuesday, unremarkable because this is something that has occurred with each new administration, but remarkable because Barack Obama is the country's first African-American president, and his new residence, the White House, was originally built in part by slaves.

More from Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush had predicted a stirring sight when the first African-American president-elect arrived at the White House. And he was right, as both men appear committed to heal any lingering tension from the sometimes bitter campaign.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They're being gracious about it. And I think you're going to see an unusual degree of good spirit.

HENRY: So much excitement that people literally pressed their noses up to the gates to try and get a glimpse hours before the two leaders took the long walk alone for the future president's first ever visit to the Oval Office, which lasted more than an hour, as they discussed the financial crisis and national security.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think any of us can understand what it's like for two people who are now going to be in a very small club who understand what it's like to be the commander in chief.

HENRY: An unlikely alliance, but the two men forged something of a bond at their first White House meeting in 2005 at a reception for freshman senators. The president warned Obama to get ready for the increased scrutiny, advice that proved prescient. And now the two men have an incentive to work together.

GERGEN: Automobile sales are down to the worst level in a quarter of a century. This is very serious stuff. And I think you will see Bush and Obama working well together in the next few weeks.

HENRY: They also want to cooperate because this is the first handoff since 9/11, and both men know there were terror attacks in Spain and Scotland during transfers of power.

PERINO: We really want to make sure that we work with them through joint exercises, through providing briefings, so that when we hand the baton to them, they're able to move forward and continue to protect the country.


COOPER: Ed is at the White House tonight.

There's a mystery meeting that Obama held today. Where -- where was it and when was it?

HENRY: As soon as he left the White House this afternoon, he headed over to Reagan National Airport.

And, while his jet was waiting, he went to the firehouse at National Airport for a long meeting with either a mystery person or persons -- a lot of speculation tonight maybe it had something to do with first-responders, since it was in the firehouse. Maybe it was a meeting with a potential secretary of homeland security.

But I have been e-mailing Obama advisers tonight. They're all in lockdown, saying they can't talk about it. But I have been assured that there's not going to be a Cabinet announcement this week. They say there could be some more White House staff announcements this week, but Cabinet secretaries not likely to come until at least next week -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Ed Henry, thanks.

President Bush showed the president-elect around, while first lady Laura Bush took Michelle Obama on a tour of the living quarters. Now it's our turn to show you a little of what they saw, because even though the White House has its secrets, it is your house, too, and most of the truly fascinating facts are right there, if you know how to find them.

360's Tom Foreman does and joins us now with the inside info -- Tom. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Obamas will face quite a change in lifestyle, as all first families do, because of their new address. So, let's see what the president-elect saw.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Starting with the seat of power, the Oval Office, former presidents have told me they never lost the sense of awe every single day walking up to their desks here.

Just down the hall, the Cabinet Room. President-elect Obama is trying to decide who should fill all the chairs around this table, knowing that some of his most important discussions will take place right here.

This is the Diplomatic Room, where world leaders will come to pay their respects and where FDR held his famous fireside chats. The Blue Room, President Martin Van Buren painted it that color, and no president has changed it. The Red Room, famous for its ornate furniture and receptions by Dolley Madison.

And speaking of first ladies, look at some of what Michelle Obama probably saw. Planning a party? With five full-time chefs, you can use the state dining room to have 140 guests for a sit-down dinner or 1,000 for hors d'oeuvres.

For a smaller gathering, she might consider the Map Room, the map on the wall drawn by Thomas Jefferson's father, and so many other spectacular settings. The White House has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, eight staircases, and three elevators.


FOREMAN: It is an immense place, although we should note, the family's actual living quarters are much smaller, only about 16 rooms, although they do include their own wonders, among them, the Lincoln Bedroom.

The family gets $100,000 for redecorating and maintaining the White House during his term, and the first daughters can choose their own bedroom decor, a nice place to come home to at the end of a long campaign.

And, Anderson, I have to say, as much as these pictures today were dazzling to see, and people keep noting that he was the first African-American to be in that position, I must say I'm equally dazzled by the youth of this family. We haven't seen a family so young in quite some time and it brings a certain energy to the White House, whether you're for him or against him politically, quite an amazing picture to see. And you can't help but imagine what it's going to be like for this family to live in this most famous address in the world.

COOPER: Just to have two young kids running around inside the White House, that is going to be something we haven't seen, oh, I guess since Jimmy Carter, with Amy Carter. FOREMAN: It will be an interesting four years, no matter how you look at it.

COOPER: And on the money, they get $100,000 basically to redecorate or -- or refurnish things they want? That's not a lot for -- if they have 16 rooms to take care of, in the -- in the kind of grand style of the White House, I don't think $100,000 goes very far.

FOREMAN: Yes, it's not a whole lot. They can bring their own furniture if they want to. That can't cut down on the costs, if they want to.


FOREMAN: But they also -- when you get to any of the historic public places, they actually -- any changes they make there, they would do with historians, people to make sure they change a certain way to make things happen.

So, I mean, good heavens, this is a residence that really does belong to the people of the country. And, yet, this family has to find a way to live in the middle of this extraordinary hubbub and try to maintain something of a private life, something of a real family life. It's a very hard trick to pull off, as many first families have found, but they're going to make a good stab at it, I'm sure.

COOPER: That's the Lincoln Bedroom right there.

Tom, thanks very much.

We're going to have a lot more of what Barack Obama and Michelle Obama saw inside the White House today later in the program. Randi Kaye is going to tell us about that.

But today was not Obama's first one-on-one encounter with President Bush. Actually, in his second book, "The Audacity of Hope," Mr. Obama writes about a visit in 2005, along with other newly elected lawmakers.

In fact, because the book is available in audio form, we have his impressions of the moment in his own words and his own voice. Listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: "Obama!" the President said, shaking my hand. "Come here and meet Laura. Laura, you remember Obama. We saw him on TV during election night. Beautiful family. And that wife of yours, that's one impressive lady."

"We both got better than we deserve, Mr. President," I said, shaking the first lady's hand and hoping that I had wiped any crumbs off my face. The president turned to an aide nearby, who squirted a big dollop of hand sanitizer in the president's hand.

"Want some?" the President asked. "Good stuff. Keeps you from getting colds." Not wanting to seem unhygienic, I took a squirt.

"Come over here for a second," he said, leading me off to one side of the room. "You know," he said quietly, "I hope you don't mind me giving you a piece of advice."

"Not at all, Mr. President."

He nodded. "You've got a bright future," he said. "Very bright. But I've been in this town awhile, and, let me tell you, it can be tough. When you get a lot of attention, like you've been getting, people start gunnin' for ya. And it won't necessarily just be coming from my side, you understand. From yours, too. Everybody will be waiting for you to slip, know what I mean? So, watch yourself."


COOPER: Well, what a difference a couple years make. As we said, more of Obama's White House tour later.

Let's us know what you think of this historic-making day. Go to live chat happening now at I will be blogging there throughout the hour with you.

And check out Randi Kaye's live Webcast during the break tonight. Erica Hill is off.

Up next: what the Obama administration will be facing from the get-go and how he plans to tackle it. Will it be a big bang approach, as some people are calling it? We will tell you what that means and if it's too risky.

Also tonight, Sarah Palin, at home, speaking out.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: This is Barack Obama's time right now. And this is an historic moment in our nation. And this can be a shining moment for America in our history. And look what we're talking about? We're talking about my shoes and belts and skirts. And this is ridiculous.


COOPER: Sarah Palin settling a few scores with our Gary Tuchman. That's coming up.

But, before we go to break, the Obamas got a tour of the White House today, but how much do you know about the White House? Let's test your knowledge.

Here's the first question. What recreational facility did President Nixon have built in the White House? Was it, A, a tennis court, B, a movie theater, C, a bowling alley, or, D, a basketball court? The answer and Richard Nixon actually having fun -- when we come back after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So, the question was, what recreational facility did President Nixon have built in the White House? And, no, it wasn't a prison weight room? Was it, A, a tennis court, B, a movie theater, C, a bowling alley or, D, a basketball court?

The answer, C, a bowling alley, just a single lane in workspace underneath the north portico. President Nixon was an avid bowler -- there he is -- a very former bowler, missing only a bowler hat, by the looks of it.

But, wow, check out that wallpaper. Quite something.

The new president, by his own admission, not much of a bowler. He rolled a 37 back on the trail in Pennsylvania. We're talking about Barack Obama. And, in any case, he will probably end doing a lot more juggling than bowling.

Mr. Obama starts his term with two wars, rogue states, failed states, and a global economic meltdown to deal with. And if a successful presidency is all about setting priorities, what do you do when just about everything looks like it ought to be job number one?

Let's dig deeper now on today's historic meeting and what lies ahead with "TIME" magazine's Mark Halperin, CNN's Candy Crowley, and CNN's Joe Johns.

So, Candy, the meeting today between President Bush, president- elect Obama, are these meetings actually helpful to the incoming president, or is it kind of just a photo-op?


I think it's a symbol to the nation, a sign to the nation, that that peaceful transfer of power is taking place. I think there are some logistical things. Obviously, they have never seen the home quarters of the White House there, certain things.

And I think, if we believe what we have been told about this meeting, that Barack Obama wanted to talk about the economy, wanted to talk about a stimulus plan, wanted to talk about extending unemployment benefits, both things that sort of need to be done immediately, and could and might be done while George Bush is still in office.

And we also know that President Bush wanted to talk about homeland security and threats from abroad. So, there seemed to me to be two very important areas that they could discuss and perhaps find some meeting of the minds if they could do something between now and the time Barack Obama takes office.

Mark, behind closed doors, do we know, did they meet with more than just each other? I mean, did -- president-elect Obama meet with also the staff of President Bush, or was it just these two men? MARK HALPERIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: First, can I pay homage to your transitions, the bowling, the juggling?

COOPER: Well, hey, you...

HALPERIN: It was awesome.

COOPER: Well, it was written by Marshall (ph). So, I will pass it along.


HALPERIN: All right. But you read it very well.

COOPER: Well, that's the most important thing.

HALPERIN: As far as I know, he just met with the president and the first lady, and, as Candy suggested, the business side of the Oval Office. Pretty remarkable. A guy gets elected president of the United States, and his first trip to the Oval Office is as president- elect.

And, then, also, the personal side of the touring of the -- of the family quarters. But there was also a meetings at the staff level, John Podesta, who is running the transition for Barack Obama, or helping with the transition, meeting with the White House chief of staff, and then Robert Gibbs, who everyone expects will be the spokesperson for the -- for the face of the administration, meeting with his counterpart, Dana Perino.

So, there's a lot of contact going on. Much more -- much more has already taken place, not just at the level of president and president-elect, but at the staff level, than we saw eight years ago, when there was that bitter feeling.

I talked to some of the Clinton people from Clinton to Bush 43, and the transition there was cursory. It was -- it was fraught with a little bit of tension. This is a model for our democracy of how, from a conservative Democrat to a liberal -- a conservative Republican to a liberal Democrat, the handoff needs to take place.

COOPER: And just the historic nature of the fact that -- I mean, Barack Obama entering this house as the first African-American president, this White House which was built in part, as we said earlier, by slaves, it's just -- it's one of those remarkable milestones.

Joe, we're hearing discussions that the president-elect might use this so-called big bang approach, attempting to -- you know, big strides to try to fix the economy, health care, education, other problems, all at once.

Does he risk biting off more than he can chew?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, sure, trying to get that defined. You talk to some economists who say, this isn't going to improve without dramatic action, Anderson.

And then you have those high expectations that Obama has been trying to manage. But you say big bang, it sounds like you're trying to create the universe. I mean, that's a lot. And the thing you really want to avoid on Capitol Hill is those little land mines that sort of blow up in your face around the Congress from both parties.

Those are the things that Barack Obama has to worry about, no matter how big a picture or how small a thing he's trying to bite off.

COOPER: Candy, I guess, if he doesn't try a big bang, what is the alternative? And does that risk disappointing those who are waiting for change?

CROWLEY: Well, yes.

And, certainly, he campaigned on big things, but there are ways to go about this. I mean, he has said: "I don't want to give up anything that I campaigned on. We need to look at the economy. We need to look at health care. We need to look at, obviously, the war in Iraq at this point. And we need to look at energy policy."

But he doesn't have to do the totality of what he has proposed all at once. For instance, we know they want another stimulus package. That was first on his agenda, according to the president- elect. They can take a part of the energy package and try to get that moving forward. They could do the first part of their health care plan, which is to get all children covered with some sort of health insurance.

So, it doesn't have to be all of these things in their totality. He could work on several fronts. It's still a big bite to chew, but this is a man who campaigned on big things.

COOPER: Mark, there's also a lot of talk about executive orders, president-elect -- about Obama, once he becomes president, using executive orders to try to reverse some Bush administration policies on some hot-button issues. Stem cell research has been mentioned.

What are some of the other ones we can expect? And how many executive orders are we talking about?

HALPERIN: Well, you will see some on abortion, maybe some on issues related to balancing national security and civil liberties. Those are important. They're substantive. And they -- and, then, often, they help the base.

I think the two most important things, though, are to keep the congressional leadership, particularly the Democrats, invested in his agenda. Some of that is helped by the executive orders, but they want them obviously focused on legislating.

And the other thing is some early legislative wins. If you look at the last two Democratic presidents and why they did not get off to good starts, and, in the case of Carter, doomed the presidency right at the beginning, it was because they failed at the beginning. They let facts and events define their administration, and they didn't get a lot done.

So, I suspect, between these executive orders and some of the things Candy talked about, children's health and perhaps something on energy, and certainly stimulus, you will see a concerted attempt, both substantively and for P.R. purposes, to get some early wins to show momentum, to show change, and to show things are different than when George Bush was there, and to try to then build on that with some of the big bang things maybe a little bit later on in the first year.

COOPER: Joe, what about those middle-class tax cuts that -- that he campaigned about? Any sense how soon and/or for sure will those go into effect? And what about the idea of raising taxes on -- on those making more than $250,000?

JOHNS: Well, they're -- right now, they're making it sound like they're going to do it very soon.

And he could get pulled in every direction. Guys like the Tax Policy Center here say Obama might need to rethink the tax cuts for the middle class to get the budget in check. No sign he wants to do that. He want to delay, you know, perhaps, the -- the tax increase on the top wage earners. We haven't heard anything about that.

He's really getting slammed on the right for that -- that idea of not, you know, pushing down the deficit by reducing spending. So, he could get hit on all sides if the opposition ever builds on this. This could be a very tough peace.

COOPER: No doubt about that.

Joe Johns, Mark Halperin, Candy Crowley, thanks.

Just ahead tonight: breaking the code -- the new presidential code names revealed. Don't worry. It's not a security breach. We will explain.

And, later, president-elect dad taking Sasha and Malia to school in Chicago, something they will all be leaving behind. Tonight, we look at the Obamas' new lives in Chicago and what their lives in Washington will be like in their new home.

Plus, Sarah Palin cooking and dishing to Gary Tuchman about her critics, her first interview since returning to Alaska -- that and more when 360 continues.


COOPER: A new string of bad economic news today, new layoffs, and word that insurance giant AIG needs more money, another $70 billion, taxpayer dollars, or so, in addition to the $80 billion it has already burned through.

One way or another, you're paying the price. We all are. The question tonight, what happens when you need bailing out? Has all that money for AIG and for all the AIGs of the world sucked the well dry? It's your money, it's your future, and a new president has been making a lot of promises.

CNN's Ali Velshi joins us.

Ali, so Obama has laid out a pretty ambitious plan, start fixing the economy, help individuals, talking about a second stimulus, health care reform, extending unemployment benefits, tax relief. How much can he actually do? And what does he have to do in order to begin to turn things around?

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I was just listening to the discussion that you had a few minutes ago about what he has to do politically.

Let's talk about what has to happen economically, or the best things to happen to try and turn this economy around. The first one was really a mantra of John McCain's and also Barack Obama's during the campaign. They want to cut taxes on people. Cutting taxes on people or businesses, generally speaking, leaves them with more money to either spend or expand and hire people. That will lead to some more hiring.

Number two, fix the mortgage crisis. What exactly are we going to do to stop people from being evicted from their homes? Because, fundamentally, the more homes that are unsold, the lower the price of homes, generally speaking, are.

And, number three, this is the big one -- we talk about it all the time -- create jobs. You know what a mess that we have been in, in terms of jobs in the last few months. We have lost 1.2 million jobs this year alone. And many people think that, by the date of the inauguration, we may have lost another 500,000 jobs.

And that feeds on itself, because people who aren't working aren't paying taxes. They're recipients of money from the system. And they're not contributing to the economy otherwise. So, that's the thing that has to be turned around, most importantly, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, well, the government needs to create jobs. You have said already they have lost one million job this year. How does Obama plan on creating the jobs? What can he actually do?

VELSHI: Real philosophical difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on -- on this one.

Barack Obama is going to have to do both of the -- take both approaches to create jobs. Let me describe what they are.

The first one is the one that we have been hearing about, this infrastructure problem -- infrastructure program, this new green economy. So, if you build infrastructure or energy projects, what happens is that the government hires contractors to build wind farms or -- or electrical grids and things like that.

They hire contractors. And those contractors hire people for those jobs. That's the one way that the government can spend money to create jobs. The other way, which is favored by the Republicans, but may have to be applied in this case anyway, because we're so desperate for jobs, is to lower taxes on businesses. The thinking is, if you lower taxes, businesses have more money to spend in hiring -- in terms of hiring people, in terms of expanding.

So, what that does is, it benefits employers. Those employers hire people. And that create jobs -- two different philosophies of creating jobs, but that's how jobs are ultimately created. And that's the kind of thing that this administration is -- this new administration is going to have to think about -- Anderson.

COOPER: There's another story out there that I was kind of scratching my head about today I want to ask you about.

There's a report the Federal Reserve is refusing to identify recipients of almost like $2 trillion in emergency loans...


COOPER: ... to banks, other institutions. When this was announced, and everyone voted on it, there were all these promises about transparency. What -- what happened to that?

VELSHI: Truly remarkable story.

When you take all the programs -- and there are 15 of them now, including the bailout -- that have been designed to give money to companies and banks, there has been more than $2 trillion given over so far.

One of our colleagues over at Bloomberg News wanted to find out what the collateral is that these banks have been putting up for those loans. The Treasury and the Fed refused to answer under a Freedom of Information Act, so they have -- Bloomberg has sued the federal government to get that information.

Believe it or not, Anderson, after all of this, after all the taxpayer money that's gone into this, they're not telling us what the collateral is that they're putting up for the loans. Some people say it's academic at this point, because we have approved it, and we have basically said, whatever they put up, we're giving them the money anyway.

But the fact that they won't answer to taxpayers goes against the spirit of what we thought was being discussed when that bailout was being debated, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, why should -- why should anybody trust them at this point?

VELSHI: That's right.

COOPER: It's ridiculous.

COOPER: Just ahead: inside the White House, 16 bedrooms, a bowling alley, and roomfuls of history awaiting the next first family. What's been changed over the years? We will take a look at that.

But, first, Randi Kaye joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a 29-year-old Arizona man allegedly killed by his 8-year-old son was buried today, as the third-grader appeared in court in handcuffs. Police say the boy confessed to shooting his father and a man who rented a room in their house. He's been charged as a juvenile with two counts of murder.

William Balfour, the estranged husband of Jennifer Hudson's sister, was denied release from prison today, after a witness reported seeing him with a gun. Balfour has been questioned in the killings of Hudson's mother, brother, and nephew, but has not been charged.

The global delivery company DHL said it will cut 9,5000 jobs and discontinue air and ground operations in the U.S. by the end January. The DHL Express will continue to operate between the U.S. and other countries.

And take a look at this. Could this be the next first dog?

COOPER: No way.

KAYE: Oh, yes. Take a look.

Peru has offered to donate a Peruvian hairless puppy to the Obamas. He's kind of cute. The national dog of Peru is said to be hypoallergenic, which president-elect Obama has said is a must for the puppy that he has promised his daughters, because, Anderson, as you know...

COOPER: That is not going to be the dog.


KAYE: I don't know. Ten-year-old Malia is allergic. They might not -- their options might be limited. They might have to go with this one.


COOPER: No, there's plenty of other options. We're going to look at some of the other options tomorrow on 360, I'm telling you.


COOPER: No offense to Peru. I love the country. But I don't think that's the dog that's going to be in the White House.

KAYE: Aww.


KAYE: ... cute.

COOPER: I don't know. Call me crazy. You never know.

KAYE: You're not crazy.

COOPER: Still ahead on 360: Sarah Palin speaking out again tonight about the double standard she says she was held to by reporters, and her plans for 2012.

Also ahead: inside the White House, plenty of history and a lot of rooms, how it has changed over the decades, and what has stayed the same -- when 360 continues.



GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: I really liked her. One of her in-laws came to one of our rallies. They're pretty hard-core Republicans, the in-laws were. And she had told me that. She was like, "I have a family of Republicans."


COOPER: In the kitchen with Sarah Palin when she talks about meeting Tina Fey's in-laws on the trail. This was the "Anchorage Daily News."

Back in her home in Wasilla, Alaska, the governor spoke to reporters, all while making moose chili and moose hot dogs.

Palin wasn't just cooking this weekend. According to her father, she was going through her family's wardrobe, trying to find out what belongs to the Republican Party. The GOP having spent $150,000 on their clothing.

Far from stepping out of the spotlight since losing the election, Palin is moving further into the public eye. She'll be the featured guest later this week at the Republican Governors Association conference in Florida.

Palin also talked with 360's Gary Tuchman in her office, and the interview was candid and surprising. Gary has the "Raw Politics."


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Sarah Palin arrived back in frozen Alaska after an unpleasant election night in Phoenix...


TUCHMAN: ... there was one message she kept hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will vote for you in 2012. You have to run, Sarah, we need you.

TUCHMAN: If the governor was thinking about being president, she was being coy.

PALIN: Plans for 2012 are to enroll Trig in kindergarten and, you know, see where the kids are at that time in their life. They're going to come first, and we'll see what happens.

TUCHMAN: The Sarah Palin I was with when she returned to her state and to her governor's office was a different woman than she was on the campaign trail.

PALIN: Thank you so much.

TUCHMAN: Now that she is no longer under the thumb of key advisors.

PALIN: It was a little bit of a frustration that I didn't get to call more of those shots. And I guess that was sort of the rogue criticism, was she wants to talk to more of the media than perhaps some in the campaign wanted me to.

TUCHMAN: Unnamed McCain campaign sources have complained about her, telling CNN and other news organizations that she didn't know, for example, what countries were in NAFTA, didn't know that Africa was a continent, that she enjoyed shopping too much. She says those sources are wrong.

(on camera) Governor, are you, to put it a blunt word, are you P.O.'d by all this?

PALIN: Not P.O.'d by it. It's just very, very disappointing, because this is Barack Obama's time right now. And this is an historic moment in our nation. And this can be a shiny moment for America and our history. And look what we're talking about. Again, we're talking about my shoes and belts and skirts.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The governor told me the unnamed sources are cruel, mean-spirited jerks.

(on camera) Do you think some of this criticism that's coming out now is sexist?

PALIN: There were double standards all along with -- you know, throughout the campaign. I don't know if anybody's asking Barack Obama, for instance, you know, who did your makeup before you went on the stage, but they -- they've been asking me. And they've been reporting, you know, who powdered her nose before she went up on stage. I don't think if the guys get asked about that. And, you know, who purchased the hair spray along the trail. We don't itemize what kind of hair spray Sarah Palin was using. I don't hear the guys doing that. That's a double standard, and I'm not afraid or ashamed to admit that that is my feeling on this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a great inspiration and a gutsy gal.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Only seven weeks ago most non-Alaskans knew very little about her. Now her future is the topic of many a discussion. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So did she give hints about -- about her immediate future? I mean, clearly, she's going to going to these governors' meetings, so that's, you know, a national stage.

TUCHMAN: Well, what's interesting about the meeting, Anderson, is she's speaking in a panel discussion about the Republican Party's future. So people will be listening very carefully to what she has to say.

But about her immediate future, you've got to keep in mind, the Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, is still in a tight race, one of the three races nationally that haven't been determined yet. His opponent, Democratic Anchorage mayor, Mark Begich. Stevens is in front with about 50,000 absentee provisional ballots still to count.

If he wins, many people in the U.S. Senate say he will be expelled, going to be kicked out. Then there has to be a special election, and Sarah Palin could run in it. So we asked her if she would consider that. She said at this point she's not going to declare whether she is or isn't. So she isn't making any commitment, and that's probably a smart political move to make right now.

COOPER: Spoken like a true politician. Gary, thanks.

A walk through the White House next: candid pictures and stories from former presidents and first ladies, an extraordinary glimpse of what Barack and Michelle Obama will soon call home. That's next.

And later, what the Obamas' New life is like in Chicago. For them and their neighbors it is already a whole different ball game. As the Obamas prepare to bid farewell to their hometown, we'll show you how they have already changed the Windy City.


COOPER: Side by side, the current president and the next. Remarkable, historic images today as President-elect Obama walks with President Bush along the colonnade at the White House.

Mr. Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters did not only make history. They are about to enter history, all 55,000 square feet of it. The White House has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms and 28 fireplaces.

But it's not just what is inside that awaits them. It's who has been there and what changes they have made to call it home. Up close with a guided tour, here's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A piece of history that keeps on giving.

JACKIE KENNEDY ONASSIS, FORMER FIRST LADY: I don't think the White House really belongs to one person. It belongs to the people of America. And I think whoever lives in it, the first lady should be aware that this is inconstant and leave something of herself there. But she shouldn't just leave it an empty museum.

KAYE: First lady Jackie Kennedy, famous for her tours of the White House, raised money to restore it. She wanted to make a showcase for art, and it worked.

Hillary Clinton put so many antiques in the White House, she banned smoking there to protect them.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Throughout the house, you'll be seeing some of the treasures that we're saving, some of the places, the artifacts, the monuments.

KAYE: Inside, each room has its own story. The historic West Wing is the nerve center of the White House, created by President Thomas Jefferson to connect the president's house with adjacent buildings.

The Oval Office, located in the West Wing, is redecorated by incoming presidents to suit their own style. President Bush chose paintings depicting Texas scenes by Texas artists.

Some things never change. The white marble mantle from the original Oval Office. The two flags behind the president's desk. And the Resolute desk made famous by this photograph of John F. Kennedy Jr. peeking out from inside it.

Upstairs, on the second floor, the most famous guest room. A night in the Lincoln bedroom is how friends and political supporters are often rewarded.

Inside the White House, there is plenty of color. The Blue Room is the reception room. The Red Room is a parlor often used for small dinner parties. And the Green Room is where Thomas Jefferson liked to eat dinner.

The White House kitchen is a favorite for first families. Nancy Reagan liked to stop by to sample desserts.

And just because the president lives here. it's not all work and no play. President Richard Nixon took advantage of the White House's bowling lane.


COOPER: You know, two of our viewers actually saw that photo earlier, though from a different angle, and pointed out that, if you look at where Richard Nixon's foot is, it's over the line, so he's cheating, basically.

KAYE: That is a -- that is a very wise viewer there.

COOPER: Picked out by John Ullmer (ph) and Donald Simpson. So... KAYE: He is cheating.


KAYE: That's pretty funny.

COOPER: Maybe he just slid a little bit after he already released the ball.

KAYE: Yes. Now we'll see, because you know, there's a half court there in the White House.

COOPER: Is there really?

KAYE: So we'll see if Barack Obama plays basketball, and if we get any shots of him maybe crossing the line, going over the line...

COOPER: All right.

KAYE: ... hopefully, our viewers will catch it.

COOPER: Well, that's the White House. What about Washington, D.C.? From schools and churches to shops and more, the first family has a lot to consider when they relocate. We'll take you on the insider's tour next.

And also the Obamas in Chicago. That's the president-elect with his daughters. How their Chicago neighborhood has been transformed into a virtual fortress already. Coming up.

And when we return, the answer to our White House quiz. Who was the first president to call the White House home? Think you know? See if you're right, right after the break. Don't check Google. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison.


COOPER: We're back with the answer in our White House quiz. The question, who was the first president to live in the White House? George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison.

The correct answer is B, John Adams. I had gotten it wrong. I thought it was Thomas Jefferson.

But anyway, President-elect Barack Obama and Michelle Obama weren't just at the White House today. They had other stops in Washington. Michelle Obama reportedly visited private schools in the capital, including one attended by Chelsea Clinton. The school search is just the start of a whole new way of life for the family.

Once again, here's Randi Kaye.


KAYE (voice-over): The Obamas aren't even packed, but their big move is big news in D.C. SALLY QUINN, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: This is the most electric place I can imagine being right now.

KAYE: Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn has been part of the social scene here for decades. She offered some insight into the tone the first family will set.

(on camera) People are comparing them to Camelot, and they are comparing this to the Kennedys. What similarities do you see?

QUINN: The age, the youth of the first family, that they have young children. So I think that that spirit of hope and optimism and idealism is very Kennedy-esque.

KAYE (voice-over): We dished with Sally over lunch at the Bombay Club, just a stone's throw from the White House. Great for a power lunch, but what about family time?

QUINN: And the Obamas really like Mexican food, and there's several really good Mexican restaurants in Washington. And Mexican restaurants are much more family oriented restaurant. When we go to the cactus cantina all the time with our kids...

KAYE: You can see them going there.

QUINN: Yes, I can see them going there.

KAYE: For lunch with friends, the first lady may try the Jockey Club.

QUINN: Jackie Kennedy lived at the Jockey Club, and so it became the real hot spot in Washington. So that may end up being a place where she might go, she might feel comfortable.

KAYE (on camera): Where to send Sasha and Malia to school will be a big decision for the Obamas. In Chicago they go to private school and may well here. One option, Sidwell Friends.

(voice-over) Chelsea Clinton and Al Gore's son went here. It's known for being very inclusive. Michelle Obama toured the school today. Sally expects Barack and Michelle Obama to embrace Washington's social scene, as long as it doesn't interfere with their girls.

(on camera) The Bushes apparently didn't entertain very much. In fact, they held just six state dinners here at the White House in eight years. But, given the warm reception Mr. Obama is receiving around the world, he'll likely entertain world leaders a lot more.

QUINN: The world leaders will come, and the world leaders will feel good about being invited to the White House and being -- having someone who wants to reach out and wants to discuss things.

KAYE (voice-over): And how will the new president work off all those state dinners? (on camera) The White House has a half court, but Obama may not be satisfied with that. Now he's never played basketball here at this luxurious sports club L.A., but it has one of the best clubs in town, and it may be a place the family will join. It has a great kids program. The Bush twins used to work out here and Condoleezza Rice is a member, so the Secret Service is familiar with it.

(voice-over) Let the courting begin.


COOPER: We heard today what the Secret Service nicknames are for the Obamas. I was surprised that this information gets out there. But apparently, it actually has nothing to do with their security function anymore. So we're not giving away some secret.

KAYE: Right. No, we're not putting the new first family at risk at all. We actually called the White House, and the Secret Service makes this monikers, as they call them, public. So we're not putting anybody at risk.

But we should tell you what they are. They're kind of interesting. For Barack Obama, his -- his name by the Secret Service is Renegade. I guess because he has his campaign for change. Michelle Obama will be called Renaissance. They consider her a Renaissance woman, apparently. Those two names are confirmed. The two girls, Malia and Sasha, we don't have those confirmed. But it's been reported that Sasha will be Rosebud, Sasha who's 7. And Malia who's 10, will be Radiance.

And apparently, Anderson, they always use the same letter. In this case, they're using the letter "R" for all members of the first family.

COOPER: And Biden is Celtic. His wife is Capri.

KAYE: Right.

COOPER: Because she's of Italian background, so they said Capri.

KAYE: Right.

COOPER: Anyway, interesting stuff.

KAYE: It is interesting.

COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks.

Of course the big move is still weeks away. Today Barack Obama dropped his kids off at school. We'll show you how their lives, though, in Chicago have already changed, as has been the neighborhood.

And at the top of the hour, the Obamas had an historic day. Their White House visit when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Taking the kids to school today, President-elect Obama this morning dropping off Sasha and Malia for class before he and Michelle Obama headed to Washington for their White House visit.

For the Obamas, life has changed forever. But it's also affected those living near them in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Their streets are clogged with tourists, TV cameras and, of course, Secret Service agents.

Chicago, you may know, is now the murder capital of the country, but now that it's known as Obama's town, many there hope that positive change is coming.

CNN's Jessica Yellin reports from Hyde Park.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the president-elect's house, and this is the president-elect's security, barricading his once quiet Hyde Street Park 24/7.

These days being Barack Obama's neighborhood is a mixed blessing. New rules, more traffic.

AVI STOPPER, HYDE PARK RESIDENT: There are tons of police cars and Secret Service on every street, it seems. You have to kind of navigate through this labyrinth to get to where you want to go.

YELLIN: And odd new intrusions.

DREW THOMAS, HYDE PARK RESIDENT: Today, there was three helicopters just hovering, I didn't know they could do that. I guess when they want -- start running out of gas, somebody else comes and takes their place.

YELLIN: The neighborhood is home to the University of Chicago, architectural landmarks and a diverse mix of people, including Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, whose synagogue is across the street from the Obama home.

RABBI ARNOLD JACOB WOLF, CONGREGATION KAM ISAIAH ISRAEL: Prices went up. They may go down now because of all the security that prevents you from going to your own house or your own synagogue.

YELLIN: His congregants have to show I.D. every time they come, all 1,000 of them. So how do they feel about their famous neighbor?

WOLF: Mostly a little excited, you know? Like this is the center of the world.

YELLIN: Most residents we spoke with say Obama's security is making the community safer, and they're hopeful his fame will bring tourists and money, perhaps, to the city of Chicago, as well.

The city has had its share of troubles. As the murder capital of the U.S., its reputation could use some burnishing. (on camera) Chicago has come to be known for its deep dish pizza, Al Capone and "Saturday Night Live" send-ups of its die-hard sports fans.


YELLIN: Oprah brought glamour, and now Barack Obama is bringing Chicago global prestige.

(voice-over) The eyes of the world were on the celebration at Grant Park last week. Chicago's Mayor Daley believes Obama will continue to draw attention this way.

MAYOR RICHARD DALEY, CHICAGO: His roots are her, you know, in the sense that his children were born here and his wife is from here. And he has many of his friends who are right from Chicago here.

YELLIN: He also believes Obama's Chicago roots could serve him as he develops policy in Washington.

DALEY: Just think: it's the first time since John F. Kennedy we've had a president from an urban community like ours. So you don't have to educate himself and his staff about urban issues.

YELLIN: The big question is, where will Obama make the western or Midwestern White House, maybe right here in the Windy City?

OBAMA: Hello, Chicago.

YELLIN: Jessica Yellin, CNN, Chicago.


COOPER: They're hoping it's right there.

Next on 360, a real housewife of Atlanta makes it into "The Shot" tonight.

Plus, 43 played host to 44 at the White House today. President Bush and President-elect Obama making history after a nasty campaign season. How did the visit go? Details ahead.


COOPER: Time now for our "Beat 360" winners. Our daily charge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one anyone on our staff can come up with.

So here's the picture. President Bush and President-elect Obama meeting in the Oval Office today at the White House. Our staff winner, Chuck, his caption: "And Tuesday night is my favorite, because that's meat loaf night."


COOPER: The viewer winner is Nick from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. His caption: "We need a new plasma in here. I bet Circuit City has some great deals."


KAYE: Is that your Texas accent?

COOPER: No. I don't know what that was. Just playing (ph).

Nick, congratulations. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on its way.

You can check out all the entries we receive on our blog. Play along tomorrow. Go on our Web site,

All right, Randi. Time for "The Shot." Ellen DeGeneres had me on her program last week. We talked a lot about the election and the future of the country. But more importantly, we also discussed my strange fascination with a certain new reality series and one of its stars. Watch.


COOPER: You haven't gotten into "Real Housewives of Atlanta"?

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: I know. I feel like I should, right? Uh-oh.

COOPER: What have you been doing?

DEGENERES: I don't know.

COOPER: So you don't know anything about Nay-Nay?

DEGENERES: Tell me about Nay-Nay.

COOPER: Oh, honey (ph).

DEGENERES: Tell me about Nay-Nay.

COOPER: I don't even know where to begin with Nay-Nay. You have to sort of watch it to really enjoy the fullness of Nay-Nay.


COOPER: OK. So it's NeNe. I got the name wrong. I was excited, talking to Ellen. What can I say?

She is my favorite character on the show and, apparently, she and another real housewife of Atlanta, Lisa, were at an event recently. And NeNe was asked about my comments to Ellen, and here's what she said.


NENE LEAKES, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA": You know, Anderson Cooper is one of my favorite CNN anchors, and I'm thrilled. And I'm thrilled that he likes me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, he was saying, like, you have to watch it to get the fullness of NeNe?

LEAKES: Is that what he said? Is that what he said? The silver fox? You know they call him the silver fox? He's handsome. I like him.


COOPER: OK, I so was not talking about that. I was not referencing that at all.

KAYE: I think she thought you were.

COOPER: Clearly. Anyway, so we're happy that NeNe is happy.

KAYE: Very good to know (ph).

COOPER: And we're glad to know that she likes 360, as well. You can see all the most -- have you seen the show, Randi?

KAYE: Oh, yes.

COOPER: All right.

KAYE: And she is the star, for sure.

COOPER: Yes. You can see -- she is the most real one of all of them.

KAYE: Absolutely.

COOPER: The only one, I believe. You can see all of the most recent "Shots" on our Web site: You can also see other segments from the program, and maybe NeNe. I don't know. I'm not sure what's up there right now. is the Web site.

Coming up at the top of the hour, President-elect Obama's history making day.

And later, Ali Velshi breaking down Obama's economic priorities and how it affects your bottom line.

And Sarah Palin back in Alaska. Hear what she told Gary Tuchman about the race and the charges that, well, she's a diva. Tonight on 360.