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The Inauguration Obama Express Covers 137 Miles, Passes Cheering Crowds, Arrives At Union Station, in D.C.; Ordinary Citizens Make Extraordinary Plans To Attend Historic Inauguration

Aired January 17, 2009 - 20:00   ET


GARY WALTERS, FMR. CHIEF USHER, WHITE HOUSE: They are asked to have 24 hours a day of their time taken with their duties. Of course, they can't do that. There has to be some sleep time in there. But also they have to carve out time for family. And that is most difficult for everybody to do that.

WALTERS: Family first.

LEMON: Thank you.

WALTERS: Thank you.


LEMON: And he knows all the secrets. The next hour of our special inauguration coverage begins right now.

(voice over): From Philadelphia , the cradle of liberty, through Wilmington, Delaware, the place the vice president-elect calls home.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm asking Joe Biden to take one more ride to Washington.

LEMON: To Washington, D.C., all aboard, a history-making ride into the nation's capital with old-school charm. We're live in the middle of it all.

(On camera): Good evening, everyone. Live here on the National Mall. An extremely cold night in Washington, D.C. I'm Don Lemon.

And in just a few days, the world's attention will be on this very place, as a matter of fact, it's probably here right now. Because right here, this is where millions of people from around the world will witness history. The first African-American president, Barack Obama, being sworn into office.

But the excitement right now is just a few blocks away, inside of a much warmer venue. I'm talking about Union Station where the 44th president-to-be, his family, and the family of his Vice President Joe Biden, just wrapped up a 137-mile train trip. An old-fashioned whistle-stop tour retracing Abraham Lincoln's inaugural route back in 1861. It started in Philadelphia where the president-elect called for a new Declaration of Independence. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I believed that our future is our choice and that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, North, South, East, West, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay and straight and disabled and not -- then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearn for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.


Then the next stop along the way was Wilmington, Delaware, to pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden, or AMTRAK Joe, as he is known by train employees.


JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENT ELECT: I promise you we will not let you down. We have promises to keep, promises to our children and our grandchildren, promises to one another and, quite frankly, promises to the world.


LEMON: There were more crowds, more speeches, more greetings, and even choirs in Baltimore, Maryland.



LEMON: Well, the last stop you know was a quiet one, Washington's Union Station. That was just about an hour ago. The president-elect and his family leaving a very -- in a very presidential motorcade.

Well, let's show you more of the sights and sounds from today's historic train trip from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. We want to share some very special moments that happened along the way.


OBAMA: We are here to mark the beginning of our journey to Washington. And this is fitting, because it was here in this city that our American journey began.

We're looking forward to our ride. Are we going to go on this one?


OBAMA: OK, let's go.


BIDEN: Happy birthday, kids. Welcome to Wilmington.

I promise you we will not let you down. We have promises to keep, promises to our children and our grandchildren, promises to one another and, quite frankly, promises to the world.

OBAMA: We know that there's work to be done. Together we know that America faces its own crossroads, a nation at war, an economy in turmoil, an American dream that feels like it's slipping away. Together we know that the American people are facing adversity, that the time has come to pick ourselves up once again.

We'll see you at the next stop.



OBAMA: Joe and I were standing out there, and you can toot the horn, which --


OBAMA: Yeah. Which you're never too old to think, this is fun.


OBAMA: We are here today not simply to pay tribute to those patriots who founded our nation in Philadelphia or defended it in Baltimore, but to take up the cause for which they gave so much.


LEMON: Well, it was warm on the train for the people riding it. But, boy, for the folks waiting, it is cold outside. Our Suzanne Malveaux, waiting there at Union Station as the Obamas and the Bidens arrived.

Suzanne, the cold weather didn't stop people from coming out. You have some of them behind you.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We got lucky, too. I mean, not as cold as some of those other folks.

But, yes, there's hundreds and hundreds of people that we've been seeing here at Union Station throughout the day. They are from across the country and across the world here to see Barack Obama. They didn't get a chance to see him personally up front because he went directly from the train into the motorcade.

But, nevertheless, a lot of anxious, very excited people here. I want to talk to a few of them. This woman here all the way from Guyana.

How did you get here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came through JFK and then I took the AMTRAK, the Northeast Regional, here yesterday to D.C. I'm happy to be here.

MALVEAUX: Well, why did you come from so far? Why are you here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, many people in Guyana, we followed the primaries. We followed the election. And I couldn't resist being here for the inauguration just to be a witness to history.

MALVEAUX: Was it difficult to get here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not at all. Not at all. It was very easy to get on the AMTRAK, to get flights here.

MALVEAUX: Are you staying with family and friends?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm staying with a friend in Maryland and then I head back to New York to stay with my family.

MALVEAUX: OK, great. Excellent.

I want to talk to one of our locals. Come, Ty. It's your turn, Ty. You live in Alexandria. Do you have a crowded house this weekend?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, I do. I have three friends coming to stay in a one-bedroom condo but I'm excited. This is just such an incredible time in our history where you can see the unity of people of different nationalities, different language barriers, socioeconomic status. It's incredible. It's really great to see so many underrepresented groups participate in the political process. You see the mobilization of youth, minorities, women. It's incredible. It's incredible. And I'm just excited to be a part of it.

LISOVICZ: I understand we have a couple of artists here from New York. You said you were going to apply for a job in the administration, but you didn't think you would get it?


MALVEAUX: But you wanted to be part of this so you did something else. What did you do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we certainly did. Like I said, I knew I wasn't smart enough to be in his administration, so we created Obama the card game. And it has the colorful moments of the 2008 campaign. Character cards like Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama. Mom-in-Chief. And the "Yes, we can cards", which are Barack Obama like really funny and silly.

And we actually are going to also, if people start buying, we're going to give profit to at-risk kid, Lost and Found, it is an organization we found in our Denver, our hometown. And we're going to give back. They take like 200 kids a day. And we're going to try and give money to them.

MALVEAUX: So, you're just doing your part? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trying to. And hopefully fighting the recession with Obama and helping us out and helping kids out. Yes, we can.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

CROWD IN UNISON: Yes, we can!


MALVEAUX: Don, obviously, excitement continues here and a lot of folks here.

CROWD CHANTING: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

MALVEAUX: (INAUDIBLE) next couple of days, Don.

LEMON: Suzanne, I have no idea what you're saying, because I can't hear you. So I'm waiting for your lips to stop moving. But I would ask you a question, but I doubt that you could hear me. All right. Suzanne Malveaux at Union Station with a very boisterous crowd. Thanks, Suzanne.

Before the Obama Express rolled into Washington, you know I took the exact same journey just ahead of his train. And I wasn't alone. As you will see in the coming days here, this inauguration will be about pilgrimages from all across America, even across the world. We'll share a special journey with you a little later on that started with a letter to Oprah.

But first I had to travel from Washington to Philadelphia to meet that young lady. And along the way, we stopped? Wilmington and met someone who once had a close encounter with the future vice president on his now famous Wilmington-to-D.C. commute. Take a listen.


ROBERT COLLET, HAD CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH BIDEN: We were coming back from Washington on the train, and he was on the train behind us. We didn't know that. He got off and we were lugging heavy bags. He picked up one and carried it here to the door.

I looked up and saw it was the senator. I said, thank you, Senator, you're the best looking red cap I've seen in a long time.

LEMON: What did he say?

COLLET: He smiled and walked off. It's many years ago.

LEMON: Nice of him to help you with your bags?

COLLET: Yes. Yes, sir. Very helpful man. Very helpful man.


LEMON: That's quite a dapper hat he has there. Then in Philadelphia , Krupali Shitura (ph), she and her mother had traveled all the way from California to witness the inauguration. And just by pure luck, and really some ingenuity, she was able to get a pair of tickets from Senator Dianne Feinstein, official inauguration tickets. Together we rode the train back to Washington and then went to Senator Feinstein's office on Capitol Hill to pick up her tickets. We'll share her story a little later on with you.

Also, make sure you join our conversation tonight. We want to know what's on your mind. You can logon to Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and tell us what you're thinking. We'll get it on the air.

OBAMA: I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation.

LEMON: And of course you can be a part of history. CNN is teaming up with Facebook to bring you complete coverage of the inauguration online. You can connect with and engage with other users while watching live inaugural events on

And Tuesday, watch the historic swearing in of Barack Obama right here on CNN. Our Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper will be leading the coverage along with the best political team on television. There are some folks already out here now. They're joining in with us live right here on The Mall.

You guys cold? Are you guys cold?

CROWD: Yeah.

LEMON: They're cold. Is that snow? What is that? Is that snow? I don't know if you guys can see it, but looks like we're getting some flakes here on The Mall. And there are people already gathering.

All right. We're going to talk to you about an American sports icon. He bears witness to presidential history. I'm talking about Don King. Yes, that Don King. He's going to join me straight ahead.

Plus, the changing role of African-American media. "Ebony" magazine and the inauguration of Barack Obama. "Ebony's" editor also joins us live right here in Washington and gives us a preview of that magazine.


LEMON: Look at that. I mean, it was just sort of a celebration on wheels today. The president-elect and the future first lady greet a crowd of cheering onlookers. That was in Baltimore, one of the stops on their historic train ride from Philly to Washington. They're calling it the Obama Express.

And, you know, this in inauguration of the president not your usual topic for "Ebony" magazine. But that has changed with the election of the country's first African-American commander in chief. Look at that. They are so happy on that cover. This is the latest cover of the inauguration issue. It is dedicated to the inauguration of Barack Obama. Bryan Monroe is the editor and he joins us here in Washington.

Bryan, do you see snowflakes here?

BRYAN MONROE, EDITOR, "EBONY": It reminds me of Chicago.

LEMON: Yeah.

Beautiful issue you have here.

MONROE: Thank you.

LEMON: Taking a look at it. It says "The Obama Story of Commitment Inspires America, Real Love." Why do you say that about them?

MONROE: They're trying inspirational. We've been around them a lot over the cover the last several years. Oddly enough they were on the February issue cover two years ago when they were "Black Love, Black History". Every February, as you know "Ebony" magazine devotes our entire issue to Black History, black love and the hottest couples. Who fits all three categories better than now President-Elect Barack Obama and his lovely wife, Michelle.

LEMON: For years and years "Ebony" has chronicled issues important to African Americans. We hear statistics all the time about the marriage statistics and the divorce statistics and children out of wedlock. Then you see a couple like this, Michelle and Barack Obama. Do you think they're going to make a difference in those numbers and also the way -- what you're reporting on next? Maybe we'll see a surge in people getting married and having children.

MONROE: Well, you know, it's going to be interesting. One of the things we're hearing a lot especially with this February issue is a lot of black men - really black women who are looking at the cover of the issue and looking at the family and the love that they represent and saying, I want some of that. I want to be where they are.

And whether it's through whatever relationships come out of that, or just knowing that as the Obamas have shown there is hope for America, there's also more hope for black love.

LEMON: You know, I talk to people who know the Obamas well. You can tell by the way they look at each other, by the way they communicate. I wonder if when you send the reporters over and the photographers, if they come back with little stories, little nuggets for you in the magazine?

MONROE: It's interesting. We had the great interview with them last month, and we did a great story in September with Michelle and talked to her mother. One of the things you see in the chemistry between the two of them -- first of all, it is genuine. But, it is also, there's a day-to-day-ness that's very attractive. It's because when they are raising their kids and being a father, as Obama is, or mother, as Michelle, they're dealing with going what time you going to sleep -- remember election night, they were worried how late the kids stayed up because they had school the next day. Those are the simple things.

LEMON: Very simple things. When they went to the Lincoln Memorial, this is a family trip. People were e-mailing us, wow, their family is just like ours. So, it is very interesting to watch and very interesting to see them. It's called "Real Love: The Obama Story of Commitment Inspires America." It's "Ebony" magazine's special inaugural preview.

We appreciate, Bryan Monroe, always.

MONROE: Thank you.

LEMON: Stay warm and I'll see you around all the --

MONROE: I'd come out here for you any time.


LEMON: Thank you, Bryan. Thank you very much.

It's colder than Chicago here. I have to say that.

We want to know what's on your mind. If you want to talk about black love, if you want to talk about Michelle and Obama, and their love for each other, whatever. Make sure you join our conversation. We're get some of the responses on. We're on Twitter, we're on Facebook, we're on iReport and also on Myspace. Tell us what you're thinking, we'll get it on the air.

There's no huge headline here. It is cold. It is cold. But what will it be like for inauguration day? We're going to tell you.



OBAMA: Now it falls to us to ensure that everyone in this country can make it if they try. Now it falls to us to pick ourselves up, to reach for the promise of a better day and to work hard every single day together to perfect our union once more.


LEMON: That was in Wilmington, Delaware, one of the stops along President-Elect Barack Obama's historic train trip to Washington, D.C. Excitement is building for Tuesday's historic inauguration.

You guys, our iReporters, are you sending in some really great stuff. And we appreciate it. As you know, preparations are still underway for the big day. IReporter Andrew Roszak took shots of things being set up there. Some of the preparations. CNN Producer Justin Gamble took some time off to watch history unfold. He was in Baltimore today and snapped some shots of the massive crowd hoping to see President-Elect Barack Obama. There they are holding the flag.

Lucy Armstrong didn't have a battle -- she didn't have to battle any crowds. She took a nice iReport of the Election Express traveling over a bridge in Hartford County, Maryland. I should say that's the Obama Express traveling over that bridge.

Let's turn to CNN's Jacqui Jeras, our meteorologist, who is in that warm studio in Atlanta.

Jacqui, is it possible that the temperatures have gone down here? It feels like it has gotten colder.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Your wind chill index is about the same as it was an hour ago, Don, just so you know.

LEMON: So, stop whining.

JERAS: That's right. But you weren't hallucinating, however, when you said, hey, I think I see a few snow flurries out here. You were seeing snow flurries.

LEMON: Yeah.

JERAS: Just a little wave of moisture moving through the area right now. It's going to be not much more than flurries, not going to accumulate to anything. It is not going to add problems on the roadways. If you are going out, just maybe add a little beauty to the area out there for tonight.

But the temperature and the wind chill are bitterly cold. If it makes you feel any better, it felt like 3 degrees below zero when the whistle-stop tour started around 10:00 this morning. So we're doing better at least our wind chill indices in the teens right now; your temperature on the thermometer in Philly, 19, now 23 degrees into Washington, D.C. There you can see the wind chill factor about 13 degrees. So that is the temperature your body feels due to the combined effects of the wind and the cold.

Unfortunately, it's not going to get a whole lot better. Our winds have changed direction today more towards the south. That's going to help warm things up a little bit through the day tomorrow. We are going to see our wind chill index move well into the 20s, maybe even pushing 30 plus degrees or so. But it will dip back down there for Sunday night, and into Monday and back on down into the teens, unfortunately and we'll kind of see teens and 20s the rule throughout much of the week.

If you're traveling trying to get there or maybe get out of there for tomorrow we'll have problems as our next front moves in. The later in the day you go, the worse off you'll be. So try to leave in the morning, if you can.

Here's your forecast. More snow expected in D.C. for Sunday night into Monday morning. Little accumulation, maybe a half inch or so. Tuesday, of course, the big day, 30 degrees, with partly cloudy skies. The wind chill will probably be into the middle 20s, should be up to 42 for that day. That's your average of what you can expect. So it's colder than it should be. Don, I'm glad to see you're appropriately dressed with the nice hat, and the ear muffs and the scarf and everything else. You're doing the right thing. Just take some breaks inside.

LEMON: All right. You can't see exactly how red my nose is because of the little powder they put on me.

JERAS: I saw you with the ChapStick, by the way, in the break. Very nice.

LEMON: Yeah.

JERAS: You have to protect your lips.

LEMON: Oh, well. Gotta do what you gotta do. Thank you very much for that, Jacqui.

One hundred and thirty-seven miles of rolling history; a new team arrives in Washington to lead the nation. And it may be cold, but inauguration excitement, well, it is certainly heating up.

Plus, I traveled the same route as the Obama Express with our very excited Obama supporter. And this was a train ride of a lifetime. And can we come back live here?

Do you recognize this man? He doesn't need a hat. That keeps him warm right there.


LEMON: Only in America.

KING: Only in America, the greatest nation in the world. Don't you ever forget it.

LEMON: We're going to be talking politics with none other than Mr. Don King - versus Lenny. Lenny is here as well. We'll see you in just a couple of seconds.


LEMON: We hope you're warm and watching us. And we're glad you're tuned into us. We're live in Washington, D.C., where excitement is building as we get ready for Tuesday's inauguration.

Just last hour, President-Elect Barack Obama got off a train at Union Station after a 137-mile whistle-stop trip from Philadelphia. The trip covered part of the same route Abraham Lincoln used on the way to his inauguration in 1861. The president-elect waved to thousands of cheering supporters gathered along the tracks. And CNN's Joe Johns talked to two of them.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys came out to see Obama, right? JAYDEN: Yes.

JOHNS: What's your name?

JAYDEN: My name is Jayden.

JOHNS: Jayden. And what's your name?

KAI: Kai.

JOHNS: Kai. All right, so where are you guys from? Turn around and look at the camera for me. JAYDEN: Edgewood.

JOHNS: Huh? Oh, you're from Edgewood? I see. Was this the first time you ever got to see him?

KAI: Yes.


JOHNS: All right. Good, good, good. I can't tell if people are talking to me. Are we seeing the camera? How old are you guys?

KAI: Seven.

JAYDEN: And I'm nine.

JOHNS: What do you think about him becoming the next president in a few days?

JAYDEN: I think that he will give us a lot and do a lot of stuff for us and change a lot of things.

JOHNS: All right. What about you?

KAI: I think it's cool from him to become the president.

JOHNS: All right. Thanks, guys.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, well the end of the line was right here in Washington, D.C. where the President-elect will take the oath of office on Tuesday. And we will be covering every single minute of it.

It's starting now, right here on CNN.

Barack Obama is well aware of the historic significance of his election. And he talked about it on Friday when he sat down with our very own John King at an Ohio factory, where Mr. Obama was pushing his economic stimulus plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you think about the journey that this country has made, then it can't help but stir your heart. Obviously, it's an extraordinary personal moment.

But, you know, you don't have to go back to slavery. You can think about what Washington, D.C., was like 50 years ago or 60 years ago. And the notion that I now will be standing there and sworn in as the 44th President, I think, is something that hopefully our children take for granted. But our grandparents, I think, are still stunned by it. It's a remarkable moment.


LEMON: So listen, make sure you catch more of John King's interview with President-elect Barack Obama. It is called "State of the Union." It premieres at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, only here on CNN, 9:00 a.m. Eastern. John King "State of the Union." Make sure you tune in for that.

Also, you've heard Barack Obama speak of the emotion he felt in recalling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Well, on Monday, CNN's Soledad O'Brien takes us on a special journey "From MLK to Today," including a rare re-broadcast of Dr. King's entire "I have a Dream" speech. "From MLK to Today," -- "From Martin Luther King to Today" begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, Monday morning only here on CNN.

And amid all the excitement, some people, well, they still wonder. Can Barack Obama bring the nation together, as he so often promised during the campaign? Remember 47 percent of voters voted for someone else.

Well, I'm joined by Lenny McAllister, a blogger and outspoken Republican. There's Lenny on the right. And the other person I don't really have to introduce him because you know who he is. Even his hair has its own zip code.


LEMON: Only in America.

KING: The greatest country in the world and no one will ever forget it.

LEMON: And Don King, you endorsed Barack Obama but I should tell you 2004 you did not endorse a Democrat. You endorsed President Bush.

KING: Yes, I did.

LEMON: What changed in four years to make you go from Bush, not to McCain, to Barack Obama?

KING: Well first, let me say I'm a Republicrat, and I'm for whoever is good for the American people, black and white alike. And in 2004 it was George Walker Bush. George Walker Bush did the word of inclusiveness. This is the most important word we all have because we were left out. We were invisible. And so what has happened is you've got George Walker Bush put in high level performance positions and policy making decisions with Collin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Rod Paige for education and Alfonso Johnson in HUD. That was then.

LEMON: That was then, this is now.

KING: As the transition comes, and when Barack Obama went out in February, when they started the first of the caucuses, I endorsed him for President, February the 20th.

LEMON: So 2004, you endorsed President Bush.

KING: Yes.

LEMON: But since then, his approval rating, not a lot of people would agree with you. Not a lot of people are endorsing President Bush right now. His approval rating as he leaves office is low.

KING: Well, what they are doing is looking for different points of view that there would be if everything was normal, rational, and even, and everybody was one land, indivisible, living in justice for all, then he would have a rating.

But you've got to understand bringing in the inclusiveness and bringing us in now, this now paves the road to show that people can make these decisions and do the right thing.

LEMON: Ok, Don, let's let Lenny get in because Lenny you won't get a word in edgewise

KING: Only in America.

LEMON: People tend to have the perception that African Americans especially, Liberal, Democrat, monolithic. But, Lenny has a group called Republican --

MCALLISTER: Hip-hop Republicans, yes.

LEMON: Hip-hop Republicans, explain that.

MCALLISTER: Hip-hop Republicans are nothing more than young urban Republicans that see conservative values implemented within the urban environments that make the changes that we need.

We've been going with a different type of governmental program for the last 50 years and we're seeing decay in black America. So we want to apply a different blueprint, if you will in order to start changing what we see so we can turn around the black communities once and for all.

LEMON: Republican but you say you support Barack Obama.

MCALLISTER: We have to support the President-elect. That's why we have something in place right now and called the "Festive 40--Day Fast for Our Future" where Republicans and Democrats, young, old, rich and poor alike are going to get together.

We're trying to push for four goals within all black communities for the next 40 days from the inauguration to the end of black history month so we could finally start changing what we're finding in our black communities.

LEMON: Did you support him during the election did you vote for him?

MCALLISTER: I did not vote for him. I stood behind the Republicans. However, what I do find, since he's been elected, and is he's moving toward the center, which is one of the things that even during the campaign I said, "Right now his record is he's the second most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate."

LEMON: He's starting to say what his economic plan he wants to lower taxes instead of raise taxes and cutting taxes.

MCALLISTER: And I think that's going to be the most effective policy. He's showing a balanced hand. And that's what we need at this time. We need a temperate hand and we need guidance and we need inclusiveness. And that's one of the things that the Republicans did not do a good job of showing during the campaign that Barack Obama did show during the campaign.

LEMON: I've got to ask you, what do you think of this guy now, a transformation, he's boxing promoter now he says, he's a Republicrat, he's been writing for the Huffington Post. I mean, his career --

MCALLISTER: He's seen so much of America. And if anybody is going ever show what Americans can do over the years this is the guy right here. And if we can follow that type of example as far as being a hard worker and pulling different types of people in together and making things happen that people say couldn't happen, remember the rumble in the jungle, remember some of the other things that he and people said that couldn't be done.

If you can do those types of things with that type of situation with a boxing match, what can we do with America in 2009 with the first African-American President?

LEMON: And Don, I want to talk to you about you said the Republicrats. We're going to move on but you said you're a Republicrat. You're a Republican. Barack Obama mentioned today it takes everyone in the tent --

KING: Exactly, absolutely.

LEMON: -- Republicans, Democrats, straight, gay, black, white, Hispanic --

KING: What ever they are. And that's the one thing that he really has that is so significant, change. Jew, Gentile, Protestant, Catholic, the ignorant and they learned it, the professional and the unprofessional. Everybody was crying out for change. So we've got a baby coming up on January the 20th; it's hope, freedom. And America will give birth to this baby when we swear this man in. It's a rebirth of the nation.

LEMON: All right Don --

KING: So we've got to make that happen. But we've got to challenge the three-fifths compromise.

LEMON: Don King.

KING: Three-fifth compromise. It has to be deleted or amended because --


LEMON: Don, we've got to go.

KING: Barack Obama would be a three-fifth human being in the White House.

LEMON: Thank you very much. Don King is still talking. He doesn't take a cue.

KING: The three-fifth compromise must be eradicated, deleted or removed, amended. The three-fifth compromise; that's our next move. We can't stop now.


LEMON: That was a little music along the whistle-stop tour; the Morgan State University Choir performing today in Baltimore for President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

Well, as you will see in the coming days, this inauguration will be about pilgrimages from across America and across the world. Earlier today, I took the exact same journey as Barack Obama. And I wasn't alone. It is a very, very special journey that started with a letter to Oprah.

But first I had to travel from Washington to Philadelphia to meet my special guest.


LEMON: Look, the sun is starting to come up as we make our way to Philly. I think we're going to arrive late. I don't know if we'll make it all the way to Philly. We may have to jump off the train and then meet Krupali as she takes the train back.

Ten minutes until 8:00, right on the nose. And we're late, obviously. I don't think we're going to make it to Philadelphia.

I just spoke with Krupali Tejura. She is video taping; she's at 30th Street Station. She's been talking with her family, and taking video of the streets of Philadelphia. Right here. There she is. Krupali, hey, you made it, you made it.


LEMON: How are you? Are you excited?

KREPALI: I am fabulous. Oh, my gosh, we just danced on the train with people in the train.

LEMON: All right we've got to get on come on.

KREPALI: Here is my mom.

LEMON: Hi mom it's a pleasure to meet you, thank you for coming to do this. How is your journey so far?


LEMON: Are you tired?

H. TEJURA: No, I'm excited.

LEMON: Finally, we're here.

K. TEJURA: Finally, yes.

LEMON: What are you thinking?

K. TEJURA: To be honest, I just think this is a surreal experience. I don't think it's hit me yet, it's too amazing for words. When I first saw him at Democratic National Convention speaking in June of 2004, I saw something that I'd never seen before. And it was just inspiration.

LEMON: You got official tickets from -- how did you do that, Krupali? What did you say, mom?

H. TEJURA: Sheer luck.

LEMON: Sheer luck and persistence? Right?

K. TEJURA: Luck. No, November 5th, I booked a flight to D.C. by myself because I knew I was going to be in D.C. no matter what, with or without an official ticket.

It's an experience of a lifetime. I don't think we'll ever feel like this again ever. Ever, it's a moment of history not only for America but for the world.

LEMON: Excited? We're here.

K. TEJURA: We are here, we are in the land, at the capital of our nation ready to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama.

H. TEJURA: Yes. K. TEJURA: We're excited. We had a wonderful train ride. We met so many people on there.

LEMON: Let's go come on mom, let's go.

H. TEJURA: Let's go.


LEMON: Very exciting. And then we were off to the Hart Federal Building to meet Dianne Feinstein and to get your tickets. This all started -- by the way, welcome to Washington.

K. TEJURA: Thank you.

LEMON: Hey, this all started and congratulations, by the way. You wrote a letter to Oprah and then ended up on the "Oprah Show" and then it's all started from there?

K. TEJURA: It all started from there. I wrote to Oprah Winfrey, she had a thing on her Website "Do you like Barack Obama?" I wrote in. The next day, they invited me to be on the show on which Barack was supposed to appear, January 12th, 2005.

During that show I actually sang a jingle for Barack Obama to run for President. It was fun.

LEMON: And then since then, your passion for Barack Obama has taken off and you said you saw him speak at the convention and then here. And then you wanted to come to this inauguration?

K. TEJURA: I had to be here. November 4th I had an election party at my house. November 5th, my flight was booked. I had no hotel, I didn't know where I was going to stay, I didn't have inauguration tickets.

I emailed both my Senators and my Congressmen thinking there's no chance of me getting a ticket. Over 80,000 people wrote in to the senator to get tickets. December 16th, 2008, four years to the day, the Oprah Winfrey show called me for the tickets for the Oprah show that Senator Dianne Feinstein's Office called with two tickets.

LEMON: And should tell you Krupali is a doctor, you're a cancer doctor. Right?

K. TEJURA: I'm a radiation oncologist.

LEMON: A radiologist Oncologist in California and she joined us during the fires -- the wild fires in southern California, as an iReporter --


LEMON: And talked to us about that.

And since then we kept in touch with her and the she has made this amazing journey across the country.

You say that there is something, you believe Barack Obama is going to change the country and you saw that, some of that in your patients when you were treating your patients. They were talking about Barack Obama. Tell us about that.

K. TEJURA: Some of my patients are actually coming to the inauguration to the parades and such. They just believe that Barack Obama represents change and he represents hope.

And hope is something that every person needs in order to survive. Hope brings about change, brings about progress, brings about inspiration and brings about dreaming. And without dreams there's really not much else.

LEMON: Right.

K. TEJURA: You must always dream big. I always believe the impossible is possible.


K. TEJURA: Look at me here. Should I -- it's incredible.

LEMON: Yes, it is incredible. And I have to tell you that Krupali is very persistent. Because during the fire she, we are friends on Facebook. And she says I am a doctor, I also live here. I'm being affected, you have to call me, you have to call me and we did.

I want to bring your mom in. And Hansa, come join us -- come join us real quick. Mom is here, mom made the journey from California.

Actually, mom, come right here in the middle, I want you to stand in the middle. Mom, I know that we can barely hear speak here really close. You came over here 1972, right, you said to escape persecution or escape harm.

H. TEJURA: Right, Uganda, Idi Amin.

LEMON: What do you think of your daughter here?

H. TEJURA: Oh, I'm proud of her. She's good.

LEMON: You happy to be here?


LEMON: Staying warm?


LEMON: Yes, we appreciate you joining us on CNN.

H. TEJURA: Thank you. LEMON: And lots of luck to all of you guys. Safe train, her brother is in Philadelphia. That part of the story. Brother is in Philadelphia. That's why you went there to see him and then you made the journey here.

K. TEJURA: My brother is yes -- he's treating patients. He's a doctor as well.

LEMON: Thank you guys.

K. TEJURA: Thank you so much, Don.

LEMON: I really enjoyed meeting you today and riding the train with you.

H. TEJURA: Thank you, we enjoyed it, too, thank you.

LEMON: All right, you know what?

A train ride into history right here and also of course the day with Barack Obama. The people who rode on the Obama Express will never forget the experience. We'll talk to two of them live straight ahead.

You don't want to miss it.


LEMON: All right. Well, check that out. That's the Obama Express as seen through the eyes of our iReporter. That is Jagan Philarisetti there and his pregnant wife; they braved some really cold weather to watch history roll past them. He shot this video in Wilmington, Delaware just as the Obama Express pulled up.

You know what, two people were on that train, Lisa Hazirjian and her partner Michelle Kaiser are among the lucky folks who got to join President-elect Barack Obama to this whistle-stop tour to Washington. Last summer and fall, Lisa recruited volunteers from the gay community to work on the Obama campaign.

And thank you very much for joining us. It is Equality Ohio, that you're affiliated with and other organizations as well, right?


LEMON: Thank you, Michelle, for joining us.

So, listen, how did you get on this whistle-stop tour? How did you get invited?

LISA HAZIRJIAN, ROAD ABOARD "OBAMA EXPRESS": Well, we got a phone call. But in terms of how we got invited, all of us, all 16 other families who were there had been involved in the campaign, really contributing on the grassroots level.

For me it was the work I did in the community plus we all have stories that highlight issues that Barack Obama --

LEMON: Diverse stories, yes --

HAZIRJIAN: -- cares about. And for me, it was a story of a situation where I had been offered a position, had asked about the possibility of domestic partnership benefits for Michelle. And at that point, the contract negotiations broke down, the job was revoked.

LEMON: There were stories behind all of that. Real quickly, I'm going to get to the issues after -- in just a bit. My first question should have been how was it?

HAZIRJIAN: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. It was so amazing. It was really just an incredible day.

KAISER: Yes. Words can't really describe it. It was the best day ever. It just kept getting better and better.

LEMON: Really? Why do you say that?

KAISER: The people on the Express, the 41 of us, everybody has a compelling story and everybody is really energized. It's wonderful getting to meet them.

And we got to meet the Obamas. I mean, what else can I say? We got to have conversations with them.

LEMON: Well, good, I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. Thanks for coming by because you just got -- within the last hour you just got here.

Let's talk issues. Obama wants to have this big tent; include everyone, Democrats, Republicans, gays, straight, everyone. Much was made about Rick Warren being part of the inauguration and then all of a sudden Gene Robinson was brought in.

What are your feelings on that? Do you think that this add by Gene Robinson maybe smoothed some of the feelings -- the hurt feelings in the gay community?

HAZIRJIAN: I think maybe. I also know that at the same time that the Rick warren announcement was made, Reverend Lowery really didn't get as much attention, but he's been an incredible figure in the black freedom struggle and has been a strong supporter of gay rights as well. And I -- obviously, a lot of people were upset about Rick Warren because of his role in California. That's understandable.

But I think that if you look more broadly at Barack Obama's policy statements, even today all of the stops that he made, talking, when he talks about the diversity of America, always saying gay, straight, including the LGBT community in that.

LEMON: Many times the LGBT community doesn't feel like it's part of the larger conversation when you hear about issues that concern HIV/AIDS, you hear about domestic partnerships or about having the same legal rights as heterosexual people. What do you think Barack Obama will do to that? Will he bring those issues to the fore where people can talk about them more openly and to have something done about it? Do you believe that?

HAZIRJIAN: Absolutely. He already has been on the campaign trail just talking about gay rights as civil rights in the context of stops, not just to a friendly audience but all over, bringing that message everywhere. I absolutely do believe he'll do that.

LEMON: Do you think America is ready for that, ready to accept gay people as equal? You know, the same way that the black people and what have you? Do you think America is ready for that, Michelle?

KAISER: I do. I think that the younger generation has shown that the people are ready. And you're looking at -- you look at California. Besides the Prop 8 --

LEMON: I was going to say then why the big rigmarole with Prop 8 and what have you, if America is ready, if you believe that?

HAZIRJIAN: I think that it's a process. I'm a historian by training. And cultural change and political change happen over time. And I think a lot of people think that if there's same-sex marriage, that all religions are going to have to perform them. And that's simply not the case as we've seen in Massachusetts. But I think it just takes a while for people to get used to the idea.

But also, on a lot of other issues like employment discrimination, hate crimes, "don't ask, don't tell," I think on those less contentious issues that the nation has moved forward very, very quickly. So I do think that now that we have a president coming in who supports gay rights, we'll move forward.

LEMON: I'm sure you won't waste the opportunity that you have. You have his ear now. You're on this historic tour with him across the country. So he knows you personally and you have his ear. So I hope you make the best of it. I'm sure you will.

HAZIRJIAN: Thank you. Thank you so much.

LEMON: Thank you very much, Lisa and Michelle. Nice to meet you. Congratulations on the ride.

HAZIRJIAN: Thank you.

KAISER: Thank you.


LEMON: Well, I'm going to see some of the pictures.

HAZIRJIAN: It's amazing, yes.

LEMON: We appreciate you guys running over here because we know a lot of the streets are closed.

HAZIRJIAN: We appreciate you making it happen. LEMON: All right, thank you.

KAISER: Yes, thank you.

LEMON: Barack Obama and the online community, we want to talk about that. We have asked you to log on and tell us your thoughts about the inauguration and the president-elect. Well, anything on your mind about that?

I'll read a few of your comments coming up in just a couple of minutes.



OBAMA: We know that there's work to be done. Together we know that America faces its own crossroads: a nation at war, an economy in turmoil, an American dream that feels like it's slipping away. Together, we know that the American people are facing adversity; that the time has come to pick ourselves up once again.


LEMON: President-elect Barack Obama speaking at a train stop in Wilmington, Delaware, one stop on his historic train ride to Washington, D.C.

We have been asking you what's on your mind tonight. We wanted to tell you what you've been saying on Twitter and Facebook.

One writes in and says, "What is it about Obama that makes us all so emotional? I cried when he spoke in Baltimore. The crowd also were cheering."

Mwood1115 says, "Obama going to the White House and becoming president makes me want to do something for our country."

Mountain Sister says, "I'm so happy for the children. You can seep the pride and excitement in their faces. We all need this hope so much."

Pblagere (ph) says, "Tuesday I will be greeting buses beginning at 4:30 a.m., not a glamorous post. But I'm excited to be a tiny part of history."

You can always join our conversation here on CNN, Twitter, Facebook, iReport or MySpace. And we will get your responses on the air. We want you to tell us what you're thinking.

You, too, can of course be a part of history. CNN is teaming up with Facebook to bring you complete coverage of the inauguration. Online you can connect with and engage with other users while watching live inaugural events on

And Tuesday watch the historic swearing-in of Barack Obama right here on CNN. Our Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper will be leading our coverage along with the best political team on television. You won't miss one second of it.

I'm Don Lemon in Washington. We'll be back live 11:00 p.m. Eastern. 11:00 p.m. Eastern tonight with a special look at these kids. Take a look.

Those are the kids from Ron Clark. You'll see them at 11:00. I'm Don Lemon. A very special inaugural edition of "Larry King Live" starts right now.