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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Inauguration Day Coverage
Aired January 20, 2009 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: LBJ was the biggest back in 1965, and that was a huge group of people. You see there, Anderson, you see the Washington Monument, and it's not that packed. There is still space around the Washington Monument, as you pointed out earlier. That means from the Washington Monument, further back to the Lincoln Memorial, there is going to be even more space.
So I guess some late-comers they just want to get out there and show up now, they can get through the security. They'll be in relatively good shape. Everybody has to go through magnetometers just to show up. And there have been really long lines just to go through those metal detectors.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, there is still an hour and a half, as we said, or a little bit more than that. The swearing is at 12:00, as is written into our constitution. So clearly, we did see a lot of people gathered around the Reflecting Pool near the Lincoln Memorial. I guess some people just want to be around there to watch this event. But clearly, there is still some room and we will probably be getting some crowd estimates a little bit later on. That's the scene by the Reflecting Pool by the Lincoln Memorial. As you can see, some people hanging around there but clearly a lot of green space we're seeing. So there is still space.
BLITZER: There is space if people want to still show up, good luck. Campbell Brown is here at the museum and John King. They are at the museum. They got members of the best political team on television. They're going to be joining us throughout this beautiful and historic day. Campbell, if there is no doubt that - and I look at the faces of all those analysts you have with you. They're about as excited as all of the rest of the folks out there.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN HOST: Wolf, Bill Bennett, especially. He keeps tearing up. I don't know. The emotion of the moment really getting to him. No, in all seriousness, I will talk about this, wolf, in the minutes ahead and the hours ahead, frankly. But clearly, you have all have witnessed a lot of inaugurations, and we'll get into how different this is. I mean it's undeniable - the crowds, the size of the crowd, the emotion present among so many people who have traveled all over the country to be here for this.
Clearly, nothing we have seen in recent history compares. So when we talk to you in just a little bit, Wolf, they will have many thoughts to share on all of that. John King, as well, with all of his technology and toys. We'll see you in a few.
BLITZER: Yes, we've got a lot of new technology that we're going to be showing our viewers, including a moment at noon when we have encouraged folks who were there to snap a shot, to take a picture, send it to us, and we're going to do something special in the hour or two or three afterwards, and show a three-dimensional and unique advantage point for all of our viewers of that moment when Barack Obama becomes the next president of the United States.
And we're under two hours away now from that moment, Anderson. But you see the swarm of humanity there, and these are people who waited patiently. You know, some of these folks, they began arriving when you were on the air last night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. The crowds were beginning to fill up.
COOPER: And they were excited to be there. Everyone knew on the Mall there was going to be a security sweep around 3:00 a.m., so everyone would have to leave the mall at one point. So it wasn't as if people could camp out there all night long and reserve a space. They had to come back in the early pre-dawn hours. But a lot of people wanted to get as close as they could. And I think Soledad, you spent a lot of time on the Mall there yesterday, as well. I mean, even if people knew they weren't going to see Barack Obama, it didn't really matter. They just wanted to be there and wanted to kind of experience it.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Yes, there is no question that people who are even sort of - the shots we are looking here, will not get to see anything, really, up close and personal, are going to experience something amazing, because they're in this crowd that looks like it could reach that two million level.
I think there is this sense of coming here for something that is important to America. You know, a step in our history, not just the inauguration for president, as much as we are obviously here to celebrate that day. It's sort of bigger than that, even.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, this is also a president - president-elect with a 78 percent approval rating, coming into office. And I don't know about any of you, but I cannot recall any president being sworn in on that kind of a wave of approval.
BLITZER: It's going to be hard to keep that number up as high it is right now. But clearly a lot of enthusiasm and hope for Barack Obama. Let's go into the crowd right now. Kate Bolduan is down in the Mall. Tell our viewers, Kate, where you are and what's going on?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Wolf, as you can see, for the past few days since we've been out here, I've been winning over a lot of friends. Just take a look at all of the people that have joined me out here from all over the country, all different walks of life, all wanting to be here to be part of this whole experience. Here on the Sixth Street mall, and we'll let you walk over here a little bit, just to show you the other group of people we have been meeting.
You see this little bit of open space where I'm walking into. It's funny. I'll show you why it's a little bit open right now. Because right behind the camera, right here, is one of those major, huge JumboTrons, Wolf, and that's where everyone is scoping out their spot trying to get a good location in order to see the swearing in. Because as you saw from that original shot behind me, they're not going to be able to see Barack Obama in any sort of way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama!
BOLDUAN: These are all of my friends here. And they're very excited. All trying to say hello to their family and friends back home. And they're all having a lot of fun here, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Kate is down there and she's got some good security, some good protection. She is going to need it in the middle of that crowd. A lot of happy people, I have to say. Soledad, when you were down there yesterday, I just assume people just want to come up to you, talk to you and picture with you share in the excitement.
O'BRIEN: Yes, they did. And we also had an opportunity to interview some of the legends of the civil rights movement. And so you would have a chance to have an interview with Fred gray and then tell people, this is Rosa Parks' attorney, and people would say, oh, my goodness and start taking pictures of him. I think there is a sense of history again, and a direct line from the work that was done, from the associates of Martin Luther King and Dr. King himself, to today.
People clearly making that connection. And all of a sudden, wanting to be part of the history that these gentlemen and women represented. It was a wonderful thing. They got it. They really got that connection. It was - it was a great feeling. So, yes, people wanted to take my picture, too, but really much more interesting, Fred Gray, and Mrs. Abernathy was on our air, and Clarence Jones and those folks were really the stars of yesterday.
BLITZER: All of us will have an opportunity to tell our friends and family and children and grandchildren, our own personal stories how we got here, even on this morning. There was incredible security, long lines. But we managed to get to where we are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody knew - needed to learn today how to play the game, so to speak. How do you convince a big, burly security guard, please let me through.
O'BRIEN: I was with Wolf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you?
O'BRIEN: They all know Wolf.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they do.
O'BRIEN: I was pushing my way through the crowd -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to walk two miles, and finally a security fellow -- I know that guy. that's you know, James Carville, let's let him through. BLITZER: James Carville had a great line. He said, when I saw him this morning, he's a great sports fan, and he said, today we play injured. Because he had to go through long lines to get here. He's not really injured for those of you who love James, as all of us do, but we did have to make a little trek to get here. So just an exciting time to be in the nation's capitol.
I'm sure people all over the country, indeed probably around the world, are saying to themselves right now, it's great to watch it on CNN. It's great to see what we're seeing. But you know what, it would have been nice to be there and to be able to tell future generations that we were there on this historic day. As I look at the crowd, Soledad, it's a lot of African-Americans, but there are a lot of white people, a lot of Asians. This is really a diverse crowd out there.
O'BRIEN: Absolutely. And so many people have come in internationally, as well. I mean, for us yesterday, the number of Africans, the number of people from South Africa, the number of people from Europe who all wanted to talk about this moment. It was really quite an incredible thing. And you're right. For a lot of people, I think it feels like the culmination, a moment in time of a lot of hard work for the nation, not just individuals. And so everybody was really, really excited.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think this was one of the interesting questions yesterday, as we celebrate properly, the Martin Luther King birthday. And recalled what a civil rights leader he was, and compared Barack Obama to Martin Luther King as in some ways people see him as a successor. But it's also true that he passes this second larger role, in some ways, and that is that he's president of all of the people. And I think today is about all of the people. So having that - that - the whites, the blacks, the young, the old, the Asians, it gives you a sense of oneness.
O'BRIEN: And the crowd's reflect that. And the crowd truly reflect that.
BLITZER: I want to point out to our viewers, that's Muhammad Ali, who is up there in the VIP area on capitol hill. Right near where Barack Obama will be sworn in. What a great moment for not only Muhammad Ali, but the fans who love him, to see that he has reached this moment in his life, as well. It's just a thrilling moment for him, his family and his friends. It's still -
COOPER: It was his birthday, Soledad pointed out.
O'BRIEN: 67 on Saturday, the same day as Michelle Obama.
BLITZER: 67 years old, Muhammad Ali, and he's still around. He's the champ and always going to be the champ. There's no doubt about that. But go ahead, you were making a point, David, and I interrupted you.
GERGEN: Well, it's the notion that I think that it's very, very important to see Barack Obama as someone who has been a break-through figure for the African-American community, and really is - is the fulfillment of many important parts of Martin Luther King's dream. But I think it's also important to see him as president and not as a civil rights leader. That he's primarily elected as president, who has responsibilities in civil rights.
O'BRIEN: I think that is a throw-back to Lincoln as part of that. I mean it was Lincoln who talked about sacrifice to hold the nation together. Sacrifice, so the state wouldn't secede from the nation. So he has got that two front -- One the civil rights legends, the civil rights icons. But also President Lincoln -
O'BRIEN: -- who was the president and who also took the nation through a very difficult time. So he's got that two front. One the civil rights legend, the civil rights icon but also president Lincoln who was the president and who also took the nation to a very difficult time. I think those two fronts are very important.
COOPER: It is important. He is also a politician and as much as this is a day of tradition and transcending politics, months from now, this country might again be divided very, very sharply along political lines.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, I want to take a quick break right now, because they're getting ready to introduce the members of the United States' Supreme Court, who will be there and the president- elect will be sworn in by the Chief Justice John Roberts.
Jeff Toobin is standing by for some analysis of what we're about to see and hear. Our coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama continues from Washington, D.C. right after this.
BLITZER: All right. This is the White House. This is the North Portico, the north lawn of the White House, inside, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Joe Biden, they're having coffee with the Bushes, as they say. About a 40-minute coffee before they all get into their respective limousines and head up to Capitol Hill for the swearing in ceremonies, supposed to take place just a minute or two or three before noon Eastern. That's when the Chief Justice of the United State Justice John Roberts will swear in Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.
Right now, all of the VIPs are arriving on Capitol Hill to participate. Anderson Cooper, as we see some of these VIPs, some of the names, some of the faces will be familiar.
COOPER: Dustin Hoffman.
BLITZER: Others won't be but Dustin Hoffman.
COOPER: Martin Luther King III, son of Martin Luther King Jr.
BLITZER: Yes. the seats are still pretty empty up there in the VIP seats but pretty soon they will be full. And how excited are these folks that they are not only going to be watching the swearing in ceremony, but only going to be a few steps away from what's going on?
COOPER: Now, why do - like Dustin Hoffman, why does he get to sit up there? Has he paid or is this one of those paid seats or is this an invitation?
O'BRIEN: He got invited.
BLITZER: Yes. He got invited by for example, Senator Diane Feinstein of California is in charge of the congressional aspect of the inauguration, so she, as all of her colleagues, they can distribute tickets. But she has some better tickets, shall we say, than others. I don't know if Dustin Hoffman is her guests or others, but clearly if you're a big shot on Capitol Hill, you have clout, and you get to place some of those guests.
GERGEN: The main platform, which is level, is often the president-elect has a lot of his own guests there and family and that sort of thing. And then there are seats up. And those are the ones that the members of Congress have a lot of guests there. So it will be a very interesting mix with wonderful seats.
BLITZER: I was the CNN reporter up on that platform for the '93 inauguration of Bill Clinton and the '97 inauguration, as well. And I must say, it's an exciting, exciting moment. Our Ed Henry, our senior White House correspondent is up there. I want to go to him shortly, because he's going to have a special guest, the first of several, we hope. He'll be able to talk to.
But as we watch this scene, you can't help but notice how majestic the west front of the U.S. capitol is, and remind our viewers a little bit, Anderson, that it was Ronald Reagan who decided to move this ceremony to the west front, as opposed to the other side, the east front.
COOPER: Well, it's interesting. If you read about this, everyone says, well, this was because one, to save money, but also to give more people the chance to get a look at it. But from David Gergen just the other day, we also learned that there was another reason.
GERGEN: He wanted to look west, because he wanted to look toward California, his beloved California. And I think it was very, very wise to move this. Because now we can have this mammoth event that you could never have on the other side of the Capitol. So many more people can take part.
COOPER: Ronald Reagan certainly knew the value of a good picture. And this is -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't forget, this is a building that was completed by slaves.
GERGEN: Yes, absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you can't help but think of that today. This is a building that Abraham Lincoln said needed to be completed.
BLITZER: The former president of the United States Jimmy Carter just walking in, as well. This will be the seventh inauguration ceremony held on the west front of the Capitol. It's the - and it does give a lot of people an opportunity to crowd in on the Mall in front and see what's going on.
COOPER: Former President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton are expected to arrive at any moment, as well. And, again, the Obamas and the Bushes right now are inside the White house. They will very soon be leaving, and heading to Capitol Hill together, as is part of the tradition. That's something you'll want to watch, as well.
BLITZER: The theme for this 2009 inauguration is "Renewing America's Promise." I assume, David Gergen, that the theme is something that the incoming president and his team determined.
GERGEN: I don't think George W. Bush chose the theme of "Renewing America's promise." No, it is very much one that the Obama team has chosen. And I think it's very consistent with their whole idea of change. And this is renewal. Because there is a sense - you know.
I think part of the joy that goes into this and the celebration is that there has been such disappointment in the last few years. And these have not been good years for the eyes of many, many Americans, and they're hungering for change.
O'BRIEN: The speech itself is chosen from a line from the Gettysburg address, and it's a new birth of freedom. And that line himself, Lincoln was referring to, those who died to preserve the nation. And, again, think of those connections to those who died to preserve the nation back in Lincoln's time, and then fast forward to the '60s and even before, the '50s and the '40s, those who died to push the nation in a certain direction. You got no credit who are not known, who are not remembered, but gave tremendously for this country, as well, I think that's a really interesting phrase for a speech.
BLITZER: That's Donna Brazile, our democratic strategist, our good friend, is lucky enough to get a good seat up there. We're going to be speaking with her a little bit later. But she'll be very, very close to what's going on. She should be - she spent many, many years working for the democratic party, working for the democrats, and she is just thrilled as anyone to be attending this historic event.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And when you talk to people in the incoming administration about their theme for this inauguration, I think what they're hoping is that it's going to be this convergence of crisis, and opportunity at the same time. The problems we have today we're going to have tomorrow. But they believe that Obama can be transformative and create opportunity out of the problems that we confront. GERGEN: They absolutely believe they get leverage from the sense of crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. They do.
GERGEN: And increased urgency, and push the Congress to go forward.
O'BRIEN: It's interesting how the president-elect has pushed that back on the people consistently, that urgency of now in his speeches is always, "and you all," you in the crowd, you people we see in this shot, it can't be me, it has to be all of you. It's a really interesting strategy, and I think it also helps buy him goodwill and time. A little time. Because he has got to have some results rather quickly.
BLITZER: I want to go down to Jeff Toobin, our senior legal analyst and the author of the important book, "The Nine on the U.S. Supreme Court" and Jeff, let's talk a little bit about the justices who will be here. There will be two justices administering the oath of office, one for the vice president and one for the president.
Let's talk about who they are, who the other - the eight justices all together who will be here. One justice, I'm told, by you, Dennis, won't be here. But talk a little bit about the Supreme Court's role and what's about to happen.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this is a big day for Chief Justice John Roberts, too, because this is the first time he will administer the oath of office to a president. He was nominated by President Bush in 2005. He's only the 17th chief justice in our history. And we've had 44 presidents, as of today. And it gives you some idea for how long they serve. He's only 53 years old, only six years older than Barack Obama. But he can expect to swear in many presidents. I don't know if he'll match chief justice John Marshal's record of nine swearing in, but he will certainly in all likelihood, have many.
So he will swear in the president. The person who will swear in Vice President Biden is John Paul Stevens, who is the oldest justice at 88 years old, and you can always identify him because he is the justice who wears a bow tie all the time. The question, of course, is how many justices will leave during the Obama presidency?
President Bush had two very important appointments. Chief justice Roberts and Samuel Alito. He actually will probably be there today. He was not there last week when the justices welcome the President-elect and Vice president-elect. And it was, I think, somewhat of a statement on the fact that Alito was voted against by then senators Biden and Obama. And I think there's some hard feelings there.
They also voted against Chief Justice Roberts, but they are apparently fewer hard feelings there. The question of who will still be on the Supreme Court when Obama leaves is, of course, one of the great mysteries. We never know exactly who is going to leave but obviously, Justice Stevens at 88 is a possibility to leave. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 75 years old, Justice David Souter is 69 years old and known to want to leave.
But this is a big part of the Bush legacy, the two nominees. Are we saying do we trying to look - yes, there is Justice Thomas arriving. Arriving with his wife. And there is Justice O'Connor, who is still though she is retired from the court three years ago, she is in great shape. She is traveling around the country, focusing on judicial independence, and participation for young people in politics. As you can see, she is walking with a very steady gait. She is a former Arizona politician, and still a great politician herself. Always out there meeting and greeting.
BLITZER: All right. Jeff, I want you to stand by, because we're going to continue this and all of our coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama. We have our reporters, our analysts, they're standing by, our special guests, as well. And our coverage will continue right after this.
BLITZER: The mall, a lot of people there. The U.S. Marine Corps band is performing up on Capitol Hill. You know what? I would like to just listen to in a little bit.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the members of the 111th House of Representatives of the United States led by Majority Whip James Clyburn and republican whip Eric Cantor.
BLITZER: Here are members of the House of Representatives. They're walking in. The leadership being introduced. James Clyburn, the democrat from South Carolina. He is the highest-ranking African- American in the U.S. Congress. He was here with us yesterday, Anderson, and I have to tell you, when we saw the videotape, we had a camera in when they replayed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his historic 1963 "I have a dream" speech, the tears were simply going down his cheeks. And even when we were live on the air yesterday talking about it, he had to wipe away the tears from his eyes.
COOPER: If you're wondering at home, every minute of this, really is scheduled down. There is Barney Frank, of course, who has been playing such a role in this economic crisis. At this point, we now know President-elect Obama and President George Bush are expected to leave the White House at eight minutes from now. That will be something again that we will want to be watching.
Also, the members of the U.S. senators will be coming in at around the same time. I want to bring in some of our panel who are downstairs at the news museum also watching this, as we do. Campbell Brown is down there.
Campbell, let's hear from your folks a little bit, just about their thoughts on this day as we watch the members of the House stream in. BROWN: Well, Anderson, we have been talking about previous inaugurations, obviously. I've got Bill Bennett with me, James Carville, Paul Begala, Tara Wall, John King. All of whom have witnessed many inaugurations. We won't say how many.
But let me ask you, Paul and James, especially, because certainly you had a pretty exclusive perch for the Bill Clinton inauguration. Paul, what was it like? Can you put it into context compared to what we're seeing now?
PAUL BEGALA, FORMER CLINTON ADVISER: Well, this moment is just wonderful. I think these two presidents are both very personable people, and they were, I think, having pretty cordial coffee. I think what's remarkably different from the day Bill Clinton took office is, his challenges were almost universally agreed to be domestic.
And this president, as enormous as his domestic challenges are, his international ones are, as well. And I was struck by this few days ago, actually. I was in Abuja, Nigeria, and the main road that the airport is on is named after Bill Clinton. You come to the end of the road, and now there's the biggest billboard I've ever seen. There's a picture of Barack Obama, and it says, "The whole world supports Obama."
And I think especially today, he's going to be speaking to the entire world in a way that a new president probably hasn't since John F. Kennedy. This inaugural will be followed around the world like we have not seen in Barack Obama's lifetime or mine.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, this is something unbelievable. I mean, the crowd, just the entire thing here. I don't know how many adjectives, and I just used one, we use today to describe this. But every time that I see that picture, I just cannot take my eye off the visual. You know, we always have the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court. I mean, they come to every one. I don't know what this estimate will be, but it's going to be north of 2 million people. And this is as remarkable a thing as I've seen in my 64 years, I'll promise you that.
BROWN: Bill Bennett?
WILLIAM BENNETT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, this is a -- I sat up there when I was Cabinet-level drug czar for George Herbert Walker Bush at his inaugural. And then the only other time I was present in the crowd was for John Kennedy's. I was a high school senior here in Washington, Gonzaga High School, and sat there and listened to the speech.
BROWN: Were there parallels, do you think, to Kennedy? Certainly, the Obama crowd is trying to draw parallels, has on occasion.
BENNETT: There are parallels, but I think this is -- we're all looking for modifiers, adjectives, as James said. This is unique, obviously, the election of a black man, president of the United States, 146 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It's extraordinary, just walking through the crowds this morning, a sense of jubilation.
A lot of people know I'm on the Republican side, the conservative side. They say, Bill, you've got to stand up and cheer. I said, I will stand up and cheer. It's America and it's a great day for all Americans.
BROWN: Tara, do you agree with that sentiment, also a conservative yourself?
TARA WALL, COLUMNIST, "WASHINGTON TIMES": I do. I mean, I think, you know, throughout the day, we talked about putting the politics aside for the moment and relishing in this moment and the significance of this moment. You know, we also talked about saying the words that just escape you. I mean, there are only so many words you can really put on this moment that signify it.
The most recent inauguration, of course, that I can remember on a personal level that I attended, of course, was George W. Bush. But one of the more poignant inaugurations that stand out in my mind is that of Ronald Reagan. And, you know, he had -- he faced similar times and similar economic straits, if you will, inflation, inherited a recession.
And one of the things he said at the time of his inauguration was, government is not the solution. You know, government is the problem. Remember, that that was one of the most pivotal parts of his speech.
And I think that we need to, moving forward, as we dissect this after this day, I think we will all need to keep this in mind going forward. And he encouraged bringing down spending and not raising taxes in the midst of a recession and the dangers against that. So I think some of those things, I think, will come about as we move forward. But I think that was the most -- one of the most pivotal parts that showed what his presidency was going to be about.
BROWN: Reagan also felt that sense of goodwill from many Democrats as well as Republicans, John King.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And Reagan had the country behind him, and Barack Obama is the first president since then to have the country behind him in such a way. The first inaugural of Bill Clinton, he won the election with 43 percent of the vote. So, he had people to convince out in the country.
George W. Bush won with 49 percent of the vote after a Supreme Court contested election in the Florida recount and all that. He had some convincing to do. He acted boldly out of the box, Bush did, but had some convincing of the country to do. Barack Obama comes in with 53 percent of the vote and because of the history, the goodwill of so many people.
Consider these exchanges, Campbell. I asked David Axelrod this morning, the architect of the Obama campaign, what does it mean to you? He said, I don't have the words. Steve Schmidt, the McCain architect, he said, I'm very impressed with this guy. I wish him well. That is where we are in political Washington right now, together.
BROWN: An extraordinary amount of political capital. Anderson, we will of course find out what he does with that in the days ahead, and frankly, how long this honeymoon will last.
COOPER: We're just moments away from President-elect Obama leaving the White House. We're going to take a short break, and then we'll bring that to you live. We'll be right back.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There's the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's here for the inauguration. Maria Shriver, his wife, as a lot of our viewers know, is a huge Democrat. The mayor of San Francisco as well, right?
COOPER: And the attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, right off to the left.
BLITZER: Jerry Brown, the former attorney general, now the mayor of Oakland. He may be running for governor because Arnold Schwarzenegger is term-limited, so we'll see --
COOPER: He's still attorney general.
BLITZER: Attorney general, that's right. You're right. He was the mayor of Oakland. Now he's the attorney general. I stand corrected. You're right. In fact, I just saw him the other night in Washington.
COOOPER: And we are literally minutes away from Barack Obama leaving the White House with President Bush. Both men will travel together and by limousine to the Capitol, as we've said before. As is tradition, President Bush will sit to the right of Barack Obama. I'm not exactly sure why -- how that tradition started. Do you know, David?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, but it's the more powerful person always sits on the right in the Washington tradition. But, Anderson, I was recalling, as this is done with such precision, you think everybody gets up at 5 or 6:00 in the morning to do this.
But Mike Deaver told the story about 1981, when Ronald Reagan was being inaugurated. He went over to Blair House at 9:00 in the morning. He walked in and there was Nancy working on her hair, and he said, where is the governor? And she said, I think he's in the bedroom.
And he walked in there, and the curtains were all drawn, and there was this sort of -- Ronald Reagan was asleep at 9:00 in the morning. And he walks in and Deaver says, Governor, it's 9:00. And Reagan said, yes. And he said, you've got to get up. It's a couple hours away. You're going to be inaugurated. And he said, do I have to get up?
GERGEN: But you know, he had a very relaxed attitude, as Bill Bennett will remember toward this, and (INAUDIBLE) presidency.
BLITZER: We're just a little more than an hour away from the moment when he will be sworn in. And every minute, maybe even sometimes every second, is very carefully choreographed by those in charge of this transition. And as Anderson just pointed out, within a moment or so, we should be seeing Barack Obama and George W. Bush getting ready to leave the White House.
COOPER: When you look at the picture that we just showed, which I think is taken from around 6th Street or perhaps around 12th street, I'm not sure which of our cameras that was, but the amount of people who are already there, no chance they're going to -- I mean, you can see the Capitol is basically a small dot on the horizon from where some of these people are standing. But that certainly has not dampened their enthusiasm. There is more than 20 JumboTron screens.
BLITZER: There's Ted Kennedy. He made it for this inauguration. He's been suffering, as a lot of our viewers know, from brain cancer. He had a tumor removed only earlier last year. And he has reached this point where he is here to see Barack Obama, a man that he endorsed, going against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, and now Ted Kennedy. He's looking pretty good, I think.
COOPER: We're told that his office -- they didn't have enough tickets to meet all of the demand, and they got some extra tickets last-minute from other people who hadn't used them. Late Monday, according to an aide to Kennedy, a 70-year-old Washington, D.C. cab driver who is African-American showed up to Kennedy's office pleading for tickets for himself and his grandson. They were able to get two tickets for that cab driver and for his grandson.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama was so important during the primaries, because --
BLITZER: Here they come. Here they come. Oh, these are the leaders of the Senate that are now walking up. But go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: No, it was so important, because what it said was that the Democratic establishment was starting to move to Barack Obama, and everyone had always assumed that the establishment would be for Hillary Clinton. And he was, of course, talked into that endorsement in part by Caroline Kennedy, who could well become the next senator from the state of New York. If Hillary Clinton were to get confirmed, I think the governor would make an appointment very quickly after that.
COOPER: David, you've worked in the White House. We're looking right now at 10:42 at the White House, where we anticipate --
BLITZER: No, this is Capitol Hill. No, no, this is the White House. You're right.
GERGEN: We're looking right into the north portico.
BLITZER: Lynne Cheney and Jill Biden. The outgoing and the incoming second ladies (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: David, you've been in the White House, and you've been in these kind of meetings between people. I mean, when it's a ceremonial meeting, do they talk substance at all? Or on a day like this, will it simply be a polite conversation?
GERGEN: It tends to be very light conversation, unless there's something new that's breaking. And then the two presidents may want to confer on that or pull themselves off to a corner. But this is, I think, is much, much lighter.
It's intended to be, because there is such a sense of nostalgia, too, for the Bushes. This is not an easy moment for them, leaving the White House in this way. And there is a -- and I think everybody also feels the reference of the moment. For democracy, this is a sacred moment.
COOPER: Barbara Bush arriving at the Capitol, getting there early in order to take her seat. Arriving with former President Bush.
BROWN: And don't forget, George W. Bush has already had for all of the former presidents. So he and Barack Obama have been able to talk about the loneliness of the presidency and other such things. And so they've become a bit acquainted before this meeting today.
BLITZER: The building on the side, by the way, of the Mall, that's the Smithsonian. There you see the father of the current president, George H.W. Bush, and we saw Barbara Bush, the mother, just a little while ago.
These are United States senators, who have been introduced, and they're walking into the U.S. Capitol right now, the west front where the swearing in ceremony will take place. And now we're back at the north portico of the White House, where we see Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. They're getting ready to go into a limousine. They'll be driving up together. Soledad, I guess volumes will be written about the outfits that these women are wearing.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, and absolutely, because we still talk about what other people have worn, certainly to the inauguration ball. That's a critical one. This outfit that Michelle Obama is wearing has been described as a handsome maize-colored suit. She's really gotten some great kudos for her fashion sense.
COOPER: And we should point out this is the last time that Laura Bush will be leaving the White House. From here, they will directly after the swearing in, they'll be led down the steps at the east side of the Capitol, on to a waiting helicopter, and they will leave Washington, D.C.
BLITZER: They'll go off to Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, in Maryland. They'll board that huge 747, which we all know as Air Force One, but it won't be known as Air Force for that ride to Texas, because he is no longer going to be president of the United States.
COOPER: The crowds on the Mall, not seeing the pictures of the two presidents about to leave the White House. They're being entertained by the Marine Corps Band, which is still playing. And that's the music you hear in the background.
BLITZER: We should point out that when we see eventually the incoming vice president, Joe Biden, and the outgoing vice president, Dick Cheney, Dick Cheney -- in fact, here we see it right now -- is in a wheelchair. And some of our viewers might be surprised why he's in a wheelchair. He was moving into his new home in Mclean, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., moving some boxes, we're told by his press secretary, and he twisted his back, and his doctors recommended, you're going to have to do the inauguration, the swearing-in ceremony and all of that, in a wheelchair.
And there we see he's being wheeled into his limousine. Joe Biden is walking with him. It's a tradition, the outgoing vice president and the incoming vice president, they'll drive over together, just as the outgoing-incoming presidents will be driving together.
I guess people are going to make points about the fact that Dick Cheney winds up these eight years, David Gergen, in a wheelchair. It's not the way he would have liked to have been seen on this day.
GERGEN: Not at all. I imagine the tone of this conversation in this car will be quite different than that of the two presidents. Because Joe Biden went after Dick Cheney very hard, and Dick Cheney didn't like it at all and came back in kind. Maybe they've got something to talk about now with a pulled back, you know, going up the street.
BORGER: I think Cheney's comments have also -- post-election have also had a bit more of an edge...
GERGEN: Much more edge. Much more aggressive.
BORGER: ... to them.
Moving your own boxes when you're out of power.
BLITZER: But having said all of that, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, they're real politicians, they understand how the game is played. And when they get into that car or when they have that private meeting, I suspect it will be rather decent and civil and won't be too bitter or anything like that, just based on how I know these two politicians.
COOPER: Still would like to be a fly on the wall in that limousine.
BORGER: Right. And you know, they have a preexisting relationship, because Cheney served in Congress when Biden was in the Senate. But still, I think particularly in terms of the war on terror and the closing of Guantanamo, et cetera --
BLITZER: All right. Now, momentarily, the president of the United States, George W. Bush and the incoming president, Barack Obama, they'll be walking out. In fact, we see them beginning to walk out through this beautiful door at the north portico. You know what? I want to listen in, see if we hear anything as they get into the limousine.
There you see the presidential seal on the side of that door. When Barack Obama, by the way, earlier was in that same vehicle -- it's called The Beast, it's a brand-new presidential limo -- the seal was not there. The seal is only placed on the side of that door once the president of the United States is in that vehicle.
And as we all know, the president of the United States, George Bush, is in that vehicle. He's sitting to the right of Barack Obama, which is the tradition, as these two men make the short drive from this part of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, up on Capitol Hill. And it shouldn't take but a few moments. I suspect they're not going to have to worry about traffic, Anderson, as they make that ride.
COOPER: One of the cool things, actually, about the new vehicle that President-elect Barack Obama has is that the flags on the front of it, they actually have little lights that illuminate the flags at night. American flags that are flying at night, obviously, are supposed to be illuminated, so there's little LED lights that keep both those flags lit.
BLITZER: This would be the car equivalent of Air Force One. It's got some really, really sophisticated and cool things inside. But most important, David Gergen, it's extremely armored and well- protected. This is the safest kind of vehicle you can be in if you're commander in chief of the United States.
GERGEN: It's probably the safest vehicle in the United States today. And as I imagine, it has a number of James Bondish features to it.
COOPER: Well, I can tell you it's got heavy armor at least five inches thick, eight-inch thick doors, (INAUDIBLE) tires, bulletproof glass. Perhaps most importantly, it's got a ten-disk CD player.
BORGER: It gives new definition to the word "the bubble" for the president, living inside that bubble. That's something that Barack Obama has said that he's going to have to get used to, and he seems to recoil at the notion of it.
GERGEN: Yes, probably one of the hardest things for him. It's wrenching for him.
COOPER: The crowd's greeting the limousine as it passes by.
BLITZER: These are all of the limousines -- these are the limousines carrying the first lady and the incoming first lady, Jill Biden and Lynne Cheney, the wives of the incoming and outgoing vice president. The limousine carrying Dick Cheney and Joe Biden. And finally, the limousine carrying Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
They're all going to be making their way, and they're going on Pennsylvania Avenue. That's in front of the reviewing stand there, where the parade, after the swearing-in ceremony, after the inaugural address, eventually will wind its way to the front of the White House over there, the north side of the White House, where there will be a reviewing stand by the then-President Barack Obama.
COOPER: If you have not ever witnessed a presidential motorcade, it is something to say to see as it passes by, and there are already people all along this parade route who will be thrilled to watch this pass by. It is a multi-vehicle convoy. And because this limousine has such big windows, you actually kind of can get a glimpse inside through the armored glass, and you get a quick sort of silhouette of the president. And for folks who have been standing outside, that can often be enough.
O'BRIEN: That might be it, actually, for those who are standing by (INAUDIBLE), having a glimpse might be all you get.
BLITZER: You know, all of us are going to be wondering, after the swearing-in ceremony, the inaugural address, the lunch that they have up on Capitol Hill and they begin the parade, at what point, David, will the president of the United States and the first lady actually walk out of that limousine and begin to walk out and wave to all of the people on both sides of the street? We don't know the answer.
GERGEN: We don't know the answer.
BLITZER: It's a closely guarded secret right now, for security reasons.
GERGEN: It is. And we remember the -- Jimmy Carter was the one that shocked everyone because he and Rosalynn got out at the very beginning of the parade and walked the whole distance. In today's environment, with the security being what it is, the president would never be allowed to do that again. So, the thought is that he's probably going to get out around the Treasury Department, 2 or 300 yards from his final destination, and maybe walk those last yards. But I would think that the Secret Service has planned this down to the T because there has to be one place that they guard.
BLITZER: Now, this motorcade will make its way -- this is East Executive Drive, on the east side of the White House. Eventually, it will make a right turn -- excuse me, a left turn, go up E Street, and make its way to Pennsylvania Avenue.
And it will go straight down Pennsylvania avenue, past where we are -- we're at 6th and Pennsylvania here at the Newseum -- and eventually, make its way up to the U.S. Capitol. They're driving at a relatively slow speed here on East Executive Boulevard. I assume they'll be driving a little bit faster on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is this very wide boulevard that will enable them to make that quick trek up there.
BORGER: Usually in Washington -- Anderson was talking about motorcades. We're used to motorcades in Washington, but they usually go by a little faster than this one.
BLITZER: It's a Cadillac, by the way. It's a U.S.-made vehicle.
COOPER: When you think about all of the past presidents who have made this very same journey to the Capitol. Abraham Lincoln, heading over there, Washington, D.C., a very different place, obviously, in those days.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very different place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Washington, D.C. Is a different place from the place it is today, Anderson.
BLITZER: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The partisanship is not here today.
BLITZER: We're not going to leave this shot of the motorcade heading up Pennsylvania Avenue towards the U.S. Capitol. In fact, it will be in the lower right-hand corner of your screen. We're going to take a quick break. This will be the last break we take before the swearing-in ceremony and the inauguration of Barack Obama. Our coverage will continue right after this.
BLITZER: There's the motorcade, up the -- incoming and outgoing president of the United States, heading up Pennsylvania Avenue. There's a shot from the motorcade. Anderson, we have a camera right in that motorcade, as well, recording this historic event.
The president, outgoing and incoming, they're sitting together in one vehicle. And pretty soon, they'll be up on Capitol Hill. They'll get ready, because in exactly one hour, maybe a little bit less than one hour, Barack Obama becomes president of the United States.
COOPER: We should remind all our viewers, we will not be taking any more commercial breaks all the way through the swearing-in of Barack Obama, so you'll want to stay with us throughout this entire journey.
BLITZER: In fact, we won't take any commercial breaks until after he speaks, the inaugural address following immediately after he's sworn in. That will be about a 20-minute address, as well. You know what, as we keep these pictures up, Ed Henry is up there in the VIP section on Capitol Hill, our senior White House correspondent. Ed, set the scene a little bit for us. ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Wolf. I can see from this vantage point here right where Barack Obama is going to be delivering that inaugural address, just a few dozen feet away. Also, Senator Edward Kennedy. We know he's been ill with brain cancer. He's walking with a cane, but he's there. He's looking healthy.
I also can see just a few feet away from Senator Kennedy, Senator John McCain, who obviously wanted to be there to be sworn in today. That was not to be. It's also obviously a lot of celebrities here, John Cusack, the actor, is here. First of all, Anderson Coooper has been wondering, how does someone like you get tickets to this?
JOHN CUSACK, ACTOR: I don't know, I sort of feel like "Zelig." I don't know quite how it happens. But I --
HENRY: Just magically appear.
HENRY: There's a sea of people right out there that you and I have been marveling at all morning...
CUSACK: All morning.
HENRY: ... from here to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. What do you think when you look out there and see the crowd?
CUSACK: Well, I think it's just humbling and awestruck, you know, all the hyperbole you could think of. And you just think, you know, they always said it was possible, and they kept telling us it was possible, and you look out and you think, it's possible.
HENRY: Steven Spielberg is here, as well. Steven, thank you very much for joining us. What is going through your mind as you see this crowd of people here? We're just moments away from watching Barack Obama be sworn in? What's going through your mind?
STEVEN SPIELBERG, FILMMAKER: Well, I can't wait to hear what Barack Obama has to say to all of us. He's just an amazing, you know, force of energy. I'm also looking out here and saying, I couldn't afford to do this shot in a movie.
HENRY: Thank you, Steven Spielberg. Back to you, Wolf and Anderson.
BLITZER: All right. Steven Spielberg, he can afford to do any shot he wants.
COOPER: Soledad, you were pointing out that --
O'BRIEN: John Cusack, he's being a little bit modest. He actually was a very big supporter of Barack Obama, if you remember back when he was running for Senate. It was John Cusack who was a local guy, would give a lot of support there that actually helped push him over into popularity in the Senate race. So when he says I don't know how I got my ticket, he's being a little bit modest. That's not the case.