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Washington, D.C. is Ready for Inauguration Ceremony

Aired January 20, 2001 - 10:55 a.m. ET



It is Inauguration Day, a day to celebrate the orderly transfer of the American presidency. But getting to this day was anything but orderly: with a raucous campaign.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yours is phased in in eight years.



ANNOUNCER: Capped by an Election Day that lasted more than a month.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: It is not over. It simply is not over.


ANNOUNCER: Through national ordeal of challenges: charges and chads. Today we complete one volume of American history and open another one, as George W. Bush follows his father's footsteps into the Oval Office. This is CNN's coverage of the inauguration of George W. Bush as 43rd president of the United States. Now, from Washington, here are Bernhard Shaw, Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield.

SHAW: As the grand finale of election 2000 fast approaches: George Walker Bush preparing to take the oath of office and become the 43rd president of the United States of America.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We don't have a monarchy. We don't crown a king. We inaugurate a president. And that is what will happen. At precisely noon today, power will shift in that second from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush. There is nothing else like it.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: And after eight years of a presidency where we had the first impeachment in 130 years, and 2 1/2 months after the first contested election in 125 years, we have come to a day where it is completely embedded tradition. Everything about it: the bunting, the Bibles, the oath, the parade route, it all links back to the past, not the least of which is a son now taking an office that his father held eight years ago -- I mean, yes, eight years ago.

And after what we have been through, there's something powerfully reassuring about it.

WOODRUFF: And only the second time in history that that has happened: that a son has taken the position, the most powerful position in the country, if not the world. And the whole world is watching.

SHAW: Watching, indeed. George Washington, he started it all -- 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This is the scene at the North Portico.

And our man John King is there.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, we are waiting, obviously, for the Clintons, the Bushes, the Cheneys and the Gores to make their way from the traditional greeting at the White House up to the Capitol for the ceremonies -- this not just a symbolic transfer of power, quite a substantive transfer of power.

Think back eight years ago. When Bill Clinton took the White House from then President Bush, the Democrats ruled Washington then. You had a new Democratic president. The Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. When George W. Bush, the son of the man President Clinton took over from eight years ago, takes office today, the Republicans will run Washington: a very narrow majority in the House, a 50-50 Senate.

Vice President Cheney will break ties there -- as we see some of the guests starting to come out of the White House. So as we celebrate the symbolism of this transfer of power today, it also means quite a bit substantively. The new Republican president will try to push a new Republican agenda through a very evenly divided Congress. Education will be priority one. His education package will go up to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Tax cuts: priority two. During the campaign he ran saying the American people deserved a big tax cut as a matter of fairness. Now with some evidence the economy is slowing, he has added to his pitch for a tax cut that the economy needs a little juice as well. So the new president will try to get off and running.

As Jeff was mentioning: a very difficult and contested election. Indeed, the new president is the man who lost the popular vote, won a very narrow but contested victory in the Electoral College -- difficulties with the Congress. That is why we know, in his speech today -- the excerpts already released -- his theme will be one of the reconciliation. Mr. Bush will promise to be president of all people and appeal to Democrats to work with him.

WOODRUFF: And the place where he will make promise is the United States Capitol on the West Front.

There, standing in what has been a drizzle and a little bit of rain and then a mist: CNN's Candy Crowley -- Candy.


And I am standing here with Karen Hughes, special counsel to the president -- president-elect -- almost president -- in a new Republican wear, by the way.

Karen let me ask you just first, personally: You've been with the governor since his first race in Texas. And here you are standing here looking out over the Capitol. What's in your head?

KAREN HUGHES, BUSH CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, it's just thrilling. I walked up to the podium a minute ago and was trying to imagine what he would feel like as he walked up there, and I'm just thrilled for him. I think he'll feel a great sense of the awesome responsibility and of humility, and I think he's really looking forward to this. But it's just -- it's a great day for all of us.

Somebody said to me on the way in that after all the lengthy delay in the finality of the election that -- he said, "You can finally have some emotions now," and I think that's how we're all feeling, that for a lot of us this will be a wonderful moment at which we'll -- it will really sink in that he is going to become the president.

CROWLEY: What can you tell me about his speech, what he wants to accomplish? What's -- what's the message here in terms of the tone he wants to set?

HUGHES: Well, obviously, it's a tone calling on the best of America and seeking to unite our country. He's worried about divisions in our country, and he's going to pledge to us that he will work every day to build a single nation of justice and opportunity. He's also going to call on us as citizens to do our part and to be citizens.

CROWLEY: Hang on one second, Judy. We're in the middle of -- OK. Sorry.

HUGHES: And so he'll call on us to work to have a nation of civility and compassion and courage and character and to really live up to the promise that America is all about.

CROWLEY: But if you -- do you have a worst fear here for the Bush administration and a greatest hope?

HUGHES: Well, I think I -- you know, I -- we tend to be optimists, as you know from covering us throughout the campaign, that if you asked the president elect that, he would say that, no, he's focused on the full side of the glass, not the empty side. I think that, obviously, the hope is that we will be able to work in a constructive way here -- that he will be able to, and I think I already see the foundations of that.

He's working very hard to reach out to Republicans and Democrats to build consensus on issues like education, which is his top priority, and I think that he's someone who intends to do in office what he said he would do, and he's already begun the process of working with Congress to accomplish that.

CROWLEY: Karen Hughes, thank you so much. Enjoy your day.

HUGHES: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Back to you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Candy Crowley at the Capitol.

SHAW: We are watching two locations, Capitol Hill where the dignitaries continue arriving, and here, the North Portico of the White House where William Jefferson Clinton's presidency has less than 58 minutes left.

GREENFIELD: You know, Bernie, the -- the meeting of the old and new presidents is not always as cheerful as it appears to be today. We're reminded that when Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt rode to the Capitol together in 1933, they exchanged no words. When Eisenhower and Truman ran, it -- you could practically have cut the tension with a knife. There was some very bad feeling.

From what we've seen so far in these pictures, even with some of the -- some of the tweaking of George Bush's election by President Clinton and George Bush's promise to restore integrity to the White House, there seems at least here to be a kind of cheerfulness and civility going on.

WOODRUFF: And yet they've had some very tough things to say, if not about each other, about the process that led to George W. Bush being elected president. President Clinton reminding everyone in the last few days that it was Al Gore who won the popular vote back in November, at least after all the counts and the recounts, and Bush mentioning just two days ago that he wants to bring -- plans to bring dignity and honor back to the White House.

SHAW: People continue arriving at the Capitol Building, and then they come outside and come down the stairs there on the West Front of the Capitol.

Jeff, what you were saying -- George Bush is clearly relieved that he doesn't have to deal with the matters that President Clinton addressed yesterday.

GREENFIELD: I think the idea of a new president coming into office where his predecessor was facing a possible criminal indictment would have just taken a lot of the edge off a new presidency. This, in some ways, is the best time George W. Bush or any president will have to set his tone, make his mark, set his agenda, and I think the fact that this agreement was reached to take this off the table was actually a very nice preinaugural gift to the new president.

WOODRUFF: Two vice presidential wives, if you will, leaving. Tipper Gore, the exiting wife of the vice president, with Lynne Cheney, who, of course, is married to Dick Cheney, who you see right here with the man who will not be president at noon today, Al Gore.

GREENFIELD: Do you notice that both Al Gore and Dick Cheney got the memo on how to dress? They appear to be in twin outfits, in dark suits and power red ties.

And I know this will be a theme that a lot of people will hit today, but you have to wonder all through the ceremony what is going through the mind of Vice President Al Gore, so close, yet so far, if only, if only, if only.

WOODRUFF: And yet he's had since December the 13th, a month and, what, a week, to put that behind him. It still has to be difficult.

SHAW: Well, for Gore and for Lieberman, this is a day of stiff upper lips.

WOODRUFF: These are some of the people arriving at the Capitol. I believe we saw -- we are looking at Colin Powell, other members of the Cabinet, none of them yet confirmed by the Senate. In fact, that will begin this afternoon. There is Colin Powell. He is scheduled to be voted on by the Senate and confirmed.

Now leaving the White House, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Senator Clinton leaving. The exiting first lady with the incoming first lady, Laura Bush.

SHAW: And Mrs. Clinton said she would follow the precedent set by other presidents and leave a note for Laura Bush.

WOODRUFF: Under her pillow?

SHAW: I don't know whether it will be under the pillow or in the desk drawer or what, but she said she would leave a note for the incoming first lady.

WOODRUFF: The two -- it is tradition, as we've been discussing here, for the two presidents, the outgoing and incoming, to meet for coffee, tea for about 20 or 30 minutes. It's not a long period of time that they spend together because it -- Jeff, as you were just saying, that's an awkward situation.

GREENFIELD: Well, it can be. You know, when President Reagan turned it over to Vice President Bush, I'm sure that was pretty cordial. I mean, his candidate had won. It was the Reagan third term. I'm sure that if Gore won...

WOODRUFF: But when it's a change of party, as we have now -- and here they are.

SHAW: John King.

KING: Well, Bernie, there you see the 42nd president of the United States and the soon-to-be 43rd president of the United States. Quite a striking moment.

Mr. Bush, obviously, bears quite a resemblance to his father. This a replay of -- in some ways of the scene we saw eight years ago when Mr. Clinton came to power.

These two men get along quite well in their brief but private conversations. As you have been mentioning, some harsh words during the campaign.

Mr. Clinton, though, telling friends in the past week he was very impressed with then-Governor Bush, President-elect Bush, when he came calling a few weeks back at the White House. He said he asked some very smart questions about the organization of the White House, about the staff of the White House, about how President Clinton communicated with the American people.

President Clinton telling friends he believes that one of the secrets to President-elect Bush's success during the campaign was that he was constantly underestimated by the American people, by the media who covered him and, certainly, we know from his private comments to friends, President Clinton believes the Vice President Al Gore also seriously underestimated the man who, in less than hour from now, will become the 43rd president of the United States.

SHAW: John, doesn't Mr. Bush plan to undo -- strike some of the executive orders that President Clinton signed in these closing days in his administration?

KING: He certainly does, Bernie.

A little music playing up behind me. I don't know if our viewers can hear me quite well.

That will be one of the challenges President Clinton faces. He says he wants to relatively disappear for about two months, keep a very low profile, but he says he'll also have to restrain himself if he sees President Bush reversing some of those late-term decisions by President Clinton. President Clinton hoping other Democrats will step up and protest if that happens, but it will be interesting to see if he can keep his promise to himself to keep a low profile for a month or two.

GREENFIELD: John, I know a lot of people might be speculating on what the outgoing and incoming president might be chatting about. I know -- well, one thing through our Larry King. At that ceremony Thursday that Larry King hosted, George Bush said to him after it was all over, the pageantry -- said, "What do you think of the Texas Rangers? They paid $250 million for Alex Rodriguez, and they still don't have a pitcher." I mean, given Mr. Clinton's baseball attraction, you might think they might be talking about prospects for 2001 in the American League.

WOODRUFF: Well, they very well may. This is a time perhaps for small talk, although someone was saying that the president might use just these final moments to talk about something serious that is coming up on the next president's platter, whether it's an international or a domestic issue that maybe the rest of us haven't even begun to think about yet.

GREENFIELD: Well, that would be in keeping with what the president said during his time of travail a couple of years ago. He said he intended to hold power until the last hour of the last day.

WOODRUFF: And speaking of which, this transfer, as majestic as it is, is an abrupt transfer. At 12:00 sharp, the power shifts from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush. Make no mistake about it.

There's one story that I think underlines that very well. In 1981, when Jimmy Carter was leaving office, he had spent three days straight working on getting those hostages out of Iran, the American hostages. Hamilton Jordan had been there as his chief of staff working just as hard on it. He had been in the situation room.

After the new president was inaugurated at noon -- he called the White House situation room at 1:00 to see the status of the hostages. He was told very politely, "I'm sorry, Mr. Jordan. We can't talk to you anymore." That's how fast it changes.

SHAW: And, also, on Capitol Hill -- we probably won't see the picture, but the military aide carrying in a leather briefcase, the nuclear codes. That briefcase will be passed on to the military aide of President Bush as soon as he lowers his hand from having taken the oath of office.

Jeff, you had mentioned Truman and Eisenhower. They virtually did not utter a word between them when they went up to the Hill.

GREENFIELD: You could have -- you could have frozen meat for a year based on the chill that was in that car, but, fortunately, that's the exception rather than the rule.

I think both Judy and I and perhaps you, Bernie, have been outdoors on the -- looking out at the inaugural platform. What always strikes me at these inaugurals is the -- is the -- at least in most years, the cheerfulness of it. You see bitter political enemies going up to each other and shaking hands, slapping each other on the back.

I honestly think at that one moment there really is a sense that -- as I think it was Tip O'Neill once said, that "we're all friends after 5:00 in the evening."

WOODRUFF: But, Jeff, you also know politics is theater, and...


WOODRUFF: ... a lot of it is theater.

The motorcade makes it way from the White House at Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol. As it does, we'll take a break. We'll be back as it arrives at the United States Capitol.


WOODRUFF: The motorcade carrying President Bill Clinton and soon-to-be President George Walker Bush to the United States Capitol where, in about 45 minutes, the ceremony will take place.

Let's go to the inside of that building to the Rotunda where our own Jeanne Meserve is.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, you may recall that, when Senator Joe Lieberman was picked as Al Gore's running mate, there was some debate over whether he would come to an inauguration on the Sabbath. Well, he has come to an inauguration on the Jewish Sabbath, but, of course, it is not his own. It is George W. Bush.

We spoke to him just a moment ago as he walked past us. He's reflected a little bit on his run for the vice presidency, saying it was an extraordinary opportunity, he was proud that they had broken a barrier, but he said this was a moment to come together, and he wished the best to the president and the president elect.

Senator Lieberman just one of a stream of dignitaries who've gone past us here today. We've seen Republican governors, including, I might say, Florida Governor Jeb Bush. We've seen members of Congress come by.

And we've also seen members of the Cabinet and some people who will play key roles in the Bush White House. One of them, Karl Rove. He, of course, one of the top strategists for the Bush campaign. He will be a key player in the Bush White House. He came into this very impressive Capitol Rotunda, took one look up and said, "Well, it's not as big as the Texas Capitol Rotunda." A lot of Texas pride here today.

Judy, Bernie, back to you.

SHAW: You know, we just saw former President Jimmy Carter there, and I'm wondering -- trying to imagine what's going through his mind and remembering when he had to turn over power and, as you were mentioning, the American hostages were being released. That was a very hectic inaugural day.

GREENFIELD: Indeed. In fact, I think, of all the inaugurals that I've ever seen, that was the most auspicious beginning a new president could have. I mean, here you have -- I believe, in fact, that the clouds parted about noon when Reagan was being sworn in, and as he went to that lunch in the Capitol, we got the news the hostages were being released.

So, at the same moment we see this new president come in, the Americans being freed, Reagan was able to announce that at the luncheon, and if you remember the old Joe DiMaggio line, "I'd rather be lucky than good," you couldn't have a presidency beginning on a more upbeat note than that one.

WOODRUFF: Now every former president is invited to these inaugurals and, of course, it's not necessarily the case that they're here.

Bernie, you said you've seen Jimmy Carter? Have we seen Gerald Ford? We assume Ronald Reagan, of course, will not be here.

Candy Crowley, you are there. You can give us a much closer eye. Candy. SHAW: Well, I remember that day for CNN. It was a very hectic day when Mr. Carter was leaving office. The hostages were being released. We had a split screen. We had correspondents over there covering them and covering the inauguration at the same time.

Bill Schneider, there was a lot going on.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. Right up until last minute. What I'm reminded of is Bill Clinton's statement that you recall Dick Cheney actually made fun of in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention.

Clinton said, "I'm going to work until the last hour of the last day of my administration," and he obviously has. It was -- it was his way of laying down a challenge to the Republicans. "You're trying to remove me from office, but I'm going to be there until the last minute working."

And he's even been issuing regulations at the last minute which are going to be printed in a hurry in the Federal Register, on environmental protection, on consumer protection, things that some Republicans don't like.

WOODRUFF: And issuing some pardons to people he is close to, people who were involved in the so-called Whitewater affair, Susan McDougal, Webb Hubbell, his good friend, the financier Mike Milken.


GREENFIELD: No, we know that -- we know that Susan McDougal was pardoned. We know that Roger Clinton was pardoned.

WOODRUFF: Right; the decision was made not to pardon Mike Milken.

GREENFIELD: And it's interesting who wasn't pardoned, including the imprisoned -- spy Jonathan Pollard imprisoned for spying for Israel. A lot of pressure on both Bill Clinton and Senator Clinton during her campaign. The CIA Director George Tenet, who's been asked to stay on, is known to have said, "If he pardons Pollard, I'm out. I will resign in protest," and the president didn't.

WOODRUFF: We know a little bit about the speech that we are going to hear, the inaugural address. They have not released it in full as far as I know, but there is a clear reference in there -- we've been given a couple of excerpts -- to character, and there are all sorts of things that one can read into that, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Well, it's interesting that -- if there was any single issue that got George W. Bush elected president, it was the issue of character, and this is an unusual inauguration because, you know, what Clinton created in the country was a consensus on policy, but the country is divided on values. You could see it in a map of the election results, the heartland versus the more liberal coasts.

There were big differences by lifestyle. Those who were religious voted heavily for Bush; those who were not regular churchgoers, for Gore. Gun owners, heavily for Bush; non-gun owners, for Gore. Lifestyle had a lot to do with this choice. Well, that's because the country was deeply divided on values but not on policy.

It's unusual because Americans right now tell us that they're very satisfied with the way things are going in the country, yet they've not only got a new president, but they've got a new party coming to power. I think what Americans voted for was not radically different policies as they did, say, when Ronald Reagan came to power but a president who would provide better character and more moral leadership.

That's the new thing they're looking for in George Bush, and he's going to point to that in his inaugural speech.

GREENFIELD: And, in fact, the one -- of the few excerpts we've seen, the one hint of a policy issue is where he calls on citizens to -- it's kind of Kennedyesque. He says, "I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort," and listen to this line, "to defend needed reforms against easy attacks." It's the one situation where he seems to be saying, "Don't listen to the Democrats who tell you that we can't reform education or Social Security."

WOODRUFF: And maybe a reference to tax cuts as well.


WOODRUFF: One could...

GREENFIELD: Definitely.

WOODRUFF: ... define that as a reform.

SCHNEIDER: And a little tiny bit of ideology may be sneaking in because what the president will say when he takes office is, "What you do," speaking to his fellow Americans, "is as important as anything government does." It's a way of saying citizenship, which is going to be a theme of his inaugural remarks -- citizenship is just as important as government activism. That's a line that's going to go over well with Republicans.

GREENFIELD: It sounds a little like "Ask not what your country can do for you," though, doesn't it?

SHAW: Yes.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, it does, but those were very different days for the Democrats.

SHAW: The presidential limousine has arrived on the East side of the Capitol. Security people now just standing and waiting to get everything in order before they open the doors and these two leaders step out and file into the Capitol.

WOODRUFF: It may be a little bit early. We have been told this was going to take place around 11:30, but, you know, it -- what, is it a mile -- 1.65 miles between the White House and the Capitol, and they would -- they were driving about as slowly as I think anybody could drive.

SCHNEIDER: Well, efficiency has been a kind of hallmark of this hurried transition. Bush got his Cabinet named in record time. It looks like they're heading for confirmation very quickly. I think this Republican administration prides itself on efficiency and the fact that they are going to hit the ground running, and they've got a lot of people who know how things work in Washington.

WOODRUFF: Two senators. You see Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Mitch McConnell. These are the co-chairs of the Congressional Inaugural Committee. This is pretty much a formal thing. These are senators who are named to officially be in charge of the inauguration, although, frankly, it's -- it's the Bush people who run this thing. Whatever they want goes today insofar as what the Constitution calls for.

GREENFIELD: That's right. And if I'm not mistaken, they're now passing through the Capitol. You guys have spent a lot of your lives working there. I think they are passing, is it, through Statuary Hall where the...

WOODRUFF: I believe...

GREENFIELD: ... some of the great...

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

GREENFIELD: ... great legislators of the past have been immortalized?

WOODRUFF: Frank Sesno is outdoors, but he's got a good view, Frank, don't you, of the place where all the ceremony is going to take place?

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Judy, a good view and a good feel for things out here. The West Front here featuring American government virtually in its totality. The United States Supreme Court is here. The House of Representatives. The United States Senate.

By the way, we've seen several senators walking here without overcoats. Senator Durbin. Senator Feingold. A few others just in their jackets. A number of, as you can see looking out here, these plastic raincoats have been passed out. It's 31 degrees out here right now.

We do have former President Carter. I see James Baker up there. He's standing next to Colin Powell who was sort of jumping around and looking very nearly jubilant just a few moments ago as he was acknowledging some friends across the way. So there's a great sense of expectation.

We're expecting President Bush -- former President Bush, the president elect's father, to be introduced momentarily. Most of the Bush family already here. Marvin. Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, already in place.

Jeb, I see, by the way, has one of these disposable cameras, and he's clicking away for posterity. One would have thought he might have had a more substantial device with him, but perhaps he grabbed it on the way out.

WOODRUFF: I'm looking at the -- we're all looking the crowds there at the Capitol. I think it's fair to say every space is taken in that immediate area on that -- that they've created there on the West Front of the Capitol, and I would say, just looking behind us, because we're stationed across the street on top of the Labor Department building, the crowds are strong but not as strong as some inaugurals that we've seen, and I think that, clearly, the weather had something to do with that. We've been hearing about bad weather for days, and I think a lot of people may be staying away because they didn't want to put up with it.

GREENFIELD: This is also the West Front of the Capitol. This is one of the changes that Ronald Reagan brought to Washington. Historically, inaugurals took place, most of them, if not all of them, on the East Front. It was Reagan's intention to face west for a couple of reasons.

First, he was a Californian. Second, he wanted to look not east across the Atlantic but symbolically west across the country. And, third, the change of direction was meant to symbolize the change that Ronald Reagan wanted to bring to Washington. Every one of his successors has chosen to keep the inaugural at -- on the West Front.

I think it's a more dramatic visage, and it also -- it makes better pictures for us television folks. You can get the Washington Monument behind us and the Lincoln Memorial, and I think it accommodates the crowds better.

WOODRUFF: It is a much more dramatic picture. I remember -- the one inauguration I remember seeing up close was the Jimmy Carter inaugural in 1976, the last one, as you point out, that was on the East Front, and it was -- you know, it was a beautiful, important ceremony, but this -- you're right, Jeff. The building -- the way they can -- you know, look at the flags, the way they've displayed them there, hanging.

SCHNEIDER: This faces the National Mall, and it also faces the White House. The White House is West of the Capitol Building. So, in a way, it's more of a symbolic connection between the two branches of government, and...


SCHNEIDER: ... the East Front faces the Supreme Court, and that's a special consideration with this election.

GREENFIELD: It also happened that it is an accommodation for Reagan's own speech. Reagan's inaugural in '81 made reference to these monuments, and it was much easier for the television networks to dramatize the speech by cutting to all these monuments Reagan was facing. So we'll be on this West Front for a while, I suspect.

SHAW: And we just saw former President George Bush and Barbara Bush.

We're minutes away from the inaugural program for the swearing-in ceremony. When we come back, we'll take you to it live. Please stay with us.



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