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George W. Bush: The Road Ahead

Aired January 19, 2005 - 15:30   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Sixty-five thousand people were expected. The big entertainment event under late afternoon January skied was scheduled to start just a few minutes from now. But take a look at this. It's not starting right now, Judy Woodruff, Jeff Greenfield.
It was going to be a gala celebration. This was supposed to be packed right now on the Washington Mall, Judy. But guess what. It's snowing on George W. Bush's parade.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And, you know, we were supposed to be out there with them, Wolf. But we chickened out.

We are here in the studio. We have a beautiful backdrop. We have the United States Capitol behind us. But we're not out there with those hearty souls in 25-degree weather.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Our producers in a fit of temporary sanity brought us in. But it ought to be pointed out that weather in Washington is distinctly nonpartisan in who it effects.

Forty-four years ago today, on the eve of John Kennedy's inaugural, a massive and surprise snowstorm hit Washington. It -- as you know, you guys live here, this town treats snow like a Martian invasion. Everything stopped, nobody could get to the balls. People had to get out and walk in the snow.

Twenty years ago, on Ronald Reagan's second inaugural, it was so cold the parade was cancelled, they moved it in doors. This, I have a feeling, is not going to be this bad, Wolf and Judy. The snow seems to have tapered off. But as you know much better than I, when snow hits Washington, all bets are off.

BLITZER: And Jeff, as Judy and I know -- and we've both lived here, what, for 30 years at least -- even the threat of snow has a tendency to paralyze the District of Columbia and the suburban areas.

WOODRUFF: But, you know, I was out in those streets today driving back as it so happens from Annapolis this morning and the roads were bad. Traffic was stopped, there was ice, it was before they had a chance to ice it up. But as Jeff says, we think it will be a little better by tomorrow.

BLITZER: Let's go down to the Elipse right now. Our White House correspondent, Dana Bash, is there for us.

Dana, what's it like there? DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you did a pretty good job of describing it from back there. Certainly we expected so many more people here at this point.

You mentioned that there was supposed to be 65,000 people. At this point we still see that people are starting to stream in. It was pretty desolate just a few minutes ago.

I walked over about an hour ago from the White House behind here, and as I was walking over, I saw people struggling with trying to shovel the snow off of the stage where the performers were supposed to start at the top of the hour. I even bumped into a few of the Rockettes who are supposed to perform.

At that point, they thought they weren't going to perform at all. About 19 of them came down by bus from New York today. They said that they were pretty disappointed.

At this point, Wolf, we are hearing that it looks like they will perform. And we are hearing that probably the scores of musicians and actors and other performers who were supposed to be here to participate will likely be here and actually participating. It just will be a truncated program.

One thing we heard possibly would not happen was a fly-over and a parachute drop. At this point they said they are still debating whether or not to actually do that. Earlier, we heard it was absolutely cancelled. Now they're thinking about reviving it. So we'll let you know -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana, it was snowing a lot heavier just a little while ago. Now it seems to have eased up a little bit. Are people beginning to arrive for the event which was scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, what, about 25 minutes or so from now? It's been delayed at least for an hour, is that right?

BASH: That's correct. It was supposed to start at 4:00. And at this point, they're saying that they don't really know the exact time.

We had heard earlier that it was supposed to now just be one hour, truncated now from 5:00 to 6:00. We had just heard just before coming on the air that perhaps they might start a little bit earlier than 5:00.

But you see there on the screen people are starting to come in. But certainly not nearly the numbers that we thought. Sixty-five thousand people is a lot of people.

We have probably more than half of even the seats here that are empty. And that's not even talking about the whole area that was designated for people to come for standing room only viewing of this performance.

BLITZER: All right. Dana, stand by. We're going to be getting back to you.

John King is over on the north lawn of the White House. Not all that far away.

John, what's it like over there? What is the president's schedule basically for today?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the president is having some speech preparation this afternoon at the White House. He also had his extended family in for lunch in the residence.

That part of the president's plan. Yes, he knows there are challenges in the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. Yes, he knows his ambitious domestic agenda already facing opposition even from some Republicans, or at least skepticism from some Republicans in Congress. But the president says he's going to enjoy this inaugural, as well as participate in it.

Earlier today, he went with the first lady as part of that effort over to the National Archives. The president took a glimpse there at the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution. He also paused for a minute to look at some of the handwritten inaugural speeches that George Washington gave in the nation's first inaugural address back in 1789. Two handwritten pages on display, as well as the bible George Washington used at that first inaugural.

There was some thought of using that bible in tomorrow's ceremonies. It is too fragile to be taken out in this type of weather. So Mr. Bush, instead, will use the same family bible he used four years ago.

His brother used that when he was inaugurated governor of Florida. His father used it back in 1989 when he was inaugurated president of the United States.

Mostly, though, Wolf, one last run through the speech. We're told it will run about 17 minutes.

The White House says it will be upbeat and optimistic. An interesting tone. This is a man who himself describes himself as a wartime president. He will talk about liberty and freedom and peace and democracy, a bit of a softer tone, if you will, from the president as he begins his second term.

BLITZER: John, we're showing our viewers the inaugural platform where the president will be sworn in tomorrow at exactly noon Eastern. All the distinguished guests will be there, the leaders of the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of the U.S. government.

Any surprises that we anticipate? Any bombshells, if you will, in that -- in that 17-minute expected speech? Anything we should be looking out for?

KING: No. Aides say it will be very optimistic.

Conservatives are circulating a memo saying this is a snapshot, if you will, of the mindset of the 43rd president. I would just look for broad brush strokes.

The president talking about the power of democracy and freedom around the world. Part of that, of course, is an implicit rebuttal of his critics in Iraq. The president will be making the case that over time Iraq will emerge as a democracy. So the critics, he will say, are wrong, or at least not taking a long-term view.

But he will not get into the point-by-point debate. That is not the strategy of this inaugural address or any inaugural address. The president instead trying to unify the country.

And we see if we look at the polling he is not enjoying the typical post-election honeymoon. We saw a bit of that in the confirmation hearing of Condoleezza Rice.

Democrats pushing this administration, critical of the war in Iraq, critical of the overall foreign policy. So we expect this town to quickly get back to partisan bickering. The president trying to be a bit more optimistic and upbeat in the, again, about a 17-minute speech he will deliver on the steps of the Capitol tomorrow.

BLITZER: All right. John King at the White House. We will be checking back frequently with you.

Judy, it's pretty out there, the snow. And it's cold. It's very, very cold.

How do you think this impacts, though, on the mood? All these people who have come in here. All the Bush supporters, Republicans from all over the country, from all over the world, they're going to have a tough time even moving around to some of the parties tonight.

WOODRUFF: You know, I don't think it affects people's mood. You know, people who -- who voted for this president, who were excited about his inauguration, excited about a second term, I don't think it's going to take anything away from them. They've traveled -- some of them have traveled a very long way.

We've been reading today in the papers, some of them, California, to Washington, others maybe just from right next door in Maryland or Virginia. But it's a big deal for them. You know, it may be a little bit cool, but -- but they don't mind.

I would just say, though, Wolf, that, you know, listening to John talk about the president's speech, this inaugural to me is a much more in many ways difficult event for this president. The first one, despite all the dissension over the election of 2000, it seems to me you just get the sense there's more of a -- of a division, more bitterness out there between Democrats and Republicans. The atmosphere is a tougher atmosphere for him to take office.

GREENFIELD: There's no question that four years ago and today it's like a different planet. The president came in a disputed election, but the big debate was, what are we going to do with $5 trillion in surpluses? America seemed invulnerable. The Cold War was over. People were happy with the way things were going. We've got a war with Iraq we're still stuck in. We have the overhang of 9/11. We've got $5 trillion in debt. And even though the president has said this second term is going to be a very ambitious one, it is harder.

It is also harder because a second term, you can't surprise people. The president gave an eloquent first inaugural which surprised some people because he's not known as a -- as a particularly eloquent in formal settings. This time we know the president. It tends to be a more businesslike speech.

John's right. John King is right. Except for Harry Truman's point on foreign aid, you don't get specific in inaugural addresses.

So the interesting thing, Judy, will be, does the president confront the fact that it's still a divided country/ There's still a lot -- a lot of questions. There's some real stuff on the table, the war on terror, the war on Iraq. It's a more daunting challenge than the first speech, I think.

WOODRUFF: I think it is, Wolf. And I think it will be interesting to see if the president acknowledges that in any way. We've heard him over the last new months, I think, play down the notion that the country is so bitterly divided. So it will be interesting to hear if he acknowledges it.

BLITZER: He'll lay out his agenda, that's for sure.

GREENFIELD: I just want to point out that if -- we owe some of this to the fact that back in the 1933, the Congress and the country decided we couldn't wait until March 4 to inaugurate a new president, which is what used to be, because it was a depression, we didn't want a lame duck hanging around. So they moved it in the 20th amendment from March 4 to January 20, smack in the middle of Northeastern winter. And so we have -- we have the 70-something Congress and three quarters of the state legislature to thank for this.

BLITZER: It's only a little...

WOODRUFF: But, you're right, it's pretty. Look at this.

BLITZER: This is a dusting. This is a dusting. Those of us that are from Buffalo, New York, can appreciate that this is not much snow, really.

GREENFIELD: This is beach weather for you.

BLITZER: This is -- this is -- well, let's go down to the parade route. Bob Franken is down there for us. It's going to be a lively parade tomorrow after the inauguration.

Bob, what's it like today?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's cold. You wouldn't know that, Wolf, would you?

BLITZER: Not really.

FRANKEN: No, of course, as you said, by Buffalo standards this is called spring. This was a spritzing. But you talk about people and their mood. Those who are trying to fly in today might not be in the best of moods because for a while there, as it was really snowing hard, the airports, in effect, stopped incoming flights.

The visibility was awful. It was awful just about everywhere. It was supposed to be just flurries today, but what we had instead was pretty hard snowfall for awhile.

As you can see, it's pretty much stopped right now. The flights have resumed. They're making their plans to pick up some of the program down on the Elipse. It's going to be quite an interesting evening.

Now, the truth of the matter is, is that this should have very little effect on all the programs if the weather stays as it's going to stay. And we're talking about temperatures that are going to be in the mid to upper 30s tomorrow. Nothing like the last time that they moved things indoors.

That was 1985, for the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan. That day, the temperature got down to seven degrees. So it's quite a difference in temperature. People are expecting that things are going to be going quite normally here.

There is one very big difference. The security. The security has been, of course, extremely tight. We know all about that.

They're expecting a lot of demonstrators. As a matter of fact, law enforcement officials will tell you privately that they consider this weather, this inclement weather, this difficult weather, perhaps good news. It may cancel out some of the plans for demonstrations. People might not decide to come out and brave the cold weather. It might also hold the crowds down a little bit, crowds that are going to have to go through very stringent security.

Now, as for events this evening, there is a big indoor event where the president and Mrs. Bush are expected, the Black Tie and Boots Ball. Unfortunately, Wolf, the boots may be snow boots this evening.

BLITZER: That's always a lot of fun, all of those balls. I just feel badly for all these people that are going to have a little bit more difficulty getting around Washington, D.C.

Bob, give us a personal reflection right now. You've been around Washington a long time, just like Judy and me. How different is this inauguration from the security perspective than previous ones?

FRANKEN: Well, it's quite a bit different, of course. Since the last inauguration we've had the September 11 attacks, we got a taste of the kind of security they were going to face during the conventions this summer in both Boston and New York. It's going to be incredibly tight. It's going to take forever to get into the parade route. The Secret Service is running a national security event. Things are going to be slowed down.

Half the city, the downtown area is shut down to traffic, which, of course, in the snow situation is really not all that bad. But it's going to be exceedingly difficult. We're in a different era now. As I said, we've experienced it this summer at the conventions.

BLITZER: Bob Franken reporting for us. We'll be checking back with him.

Judy, just driving around Washington is going to be treacherous, especially for the people who aren't used to driving in ice and snow.

WOODRUFF: That's right. And when you add the ice and snow to the security, it's going to be -- tomorrow is going to be daunting. All of us who are going to be covering this inauguration, anybody who's here to participate in watching this inauguration, or even have a role in it, are going to want to plan ahead, take some extra time, because we're going to be doing some hiking, some walking, which is not a bad thing at all.

Wolf has been mentioning the security. We heard a little bit about it from Bob Franken. We're going to talk more about just how much the security has been beefed up in this capital city for tomorrow's inauguration.

We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: This is a live picture of the west front of the United States Capitol. This is the place where by this time tomorrow, George W. Bush will have been inaugurated for a second term. Looking out from that little round area with the sort of turquoise rug, carpet, and that's where he will stand as he takes the oath of office on Thursday at noon.

These are live pictures from the Elipse, where there was to have been a celebration getting under way in the next 15 minutes. It's been postponed for about an hour, but there still will be entertainment. We'll be covering it all live.

I'm here in the Washington bureau near the Capitol, along with my colleague, Wolf Blitzer. Jeff Greenfield is joining us.

Wolf, we were just talking about security. You know, we've seen security in Washington. We live with security.

I don't think I've ever seen it as tight. Maybe after 9/11 it was -- you know, that was -- that was a rare moment in our -- in our time in this city. But right now, you have not seen security like what we are seeing preparing for this inaugural.

Our own Jeanne Meserve is with us now. Jeanne, bring us up to date on some of the are extraordinary measures they're taking.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Judy, let me say, first of all, that officials say there are no credible threats against the inauguration, but they are, as you mentioned, taking abundant precautions. You see mind me a command unit of the Federal Protective Service. That's just one small sign of the massive security effort being mounted here.


MESERVE (voice-over): A full flex of the law enforcement muscle gathered in Washington for the inauguration. When a man threatened to blow up a van near the White House Tuesday night, the incident was diffused with the man's surrender and arrest.

Anti-aircraft systems, a raid around the Capitol. Checkpoints for trucks approaching the city. Manhole covers welded shut. Cameras and command centers augmenting 6,000 law enforcement officers.

Signs of how 9/11 and the war in Iraq have made this inauguration unlike any other. Tim Koerner of the Secret Service is the security plan's grand architect.

TIM KOERNER, U.S. SECRET SERVICE: The security picture is 360 degrees from the top to the bottom, underneath the ground to over in the sky.

MESERVE: In the city's subway system that means canine teams, a heftier patrol presence and several closed stations. The air space restrictions over the National Mall four years ago were a fraction of the size of those being imposed this year, covering the entire Baltimore-Washington area. And officials say almost all commercial flights into the region will carry air marshals.

The health community has been strategizing for months. A health surveillance system has been put in high gear to detect a chemical or biological attack. New gear is being rolled out for paramedics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big difference. Big difference. Four years ago we really, you know, was laid back.


MESERVE: As for the weather, security officials say they are not tremendously concerned. This is a January event. They were prepared for it to get sloppy. They say they can adjust to whatever Mother Nature may sling their way.

Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: So, Jeanne, for those people who are coming from out of town, if you wanted to watch this parade, what do you have to go through to watch tomorrow's inaugural and the parade?

MESERVE: Well, you have to get a ticket. And then when you come down here, you have to go through massive security.

There are going to be layers of security as you go further back from the Mall. And they -- almost everyone -- everyone, in fact, will have to go through magnetometers.

There are certain sorts of things they're telling people not to bring. That includes backpacks. So travel lightly. Put it in your pocket if you're going to bring it tomorrow.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, you were just saying -- thank you, Jeanne. And maybe we want to keep Jeanne on hand for a minute.

You were just saying the security picture has changed dramatically.

GREENFIELD: Well, it's changed -- even before 9/11, it was -- every four years it was another layer. Back in 2001, it was also designated a national security event.

And I have to say this in all honesty. You know, for something called a Celebration of Freedom, I just remember even before 9/11 the watch crowds of people coming on to the Mall where not that long ago you just walked on to the Mall and listened to your president speak to you, going through metal defectors, 100 blocks of Washington, D.C., affected, to see all these flashing lights, all these uniforms, all these police folks, all these weapons, it -- it's not -- it's not the kind of picture that I associate with what I always thought of as what an inaugural meant.

WOODRUFF: And so, Jeanne, does that give any of these -- people who are organizing the security pause?

MESERVE: You know, I talked yesterday to the principal federal officer for this event. I asked him that very question. He said, no, they really do believe that they have respected people's civil liberties. They think they found a balance here. But, of course, you will find people on the streets of Washington, D.C., who disagree with that quite heartily.

WOODRUFF: Jeanne Meserve, thank you very much.

It really is different, Wolf, I think, from...

BLITZER: And, you know -- and Jeanne makes a good point. What we see, the visible aspects of the security, is one thing. What we don't see, the invisible aspects -- and there's a lot of that -- the -- the law enforcement authorities, the troops who are wearing civilian clothes trying to blend in, that's another aspect of this. The security is very, very strong, as it should be given the nature of the threat.

GREENFIELD: Yes. And I'm not even speaking about any kind of violation of civil liberties. It's much more a sense that -- you know, I did work in Washington many years ago when I was young. You could walk into the Capitol building, you could walk into the Senate office building with pretty much little fanfare. WOODRUFF: Not anymore.

GREENFIELD: The first thing I saw anything that shattered me was after Martin Luther King's assassination. Coming back to Washington and seeing sandbags and armed troops around the nation's capital.

That's something that I think we've always associated with other kinds of government. And you can certainly argue, look, it's a different world. You know, a plane hit the Pentagon not that long ago, another one was probably headed for the Capitol.

But it tells you in that sense that -- that there's something that's gone out, I think, of the sense of a free-wheeling, open, porous notion in the days -- I realize I'm going back -- and, you know, Andrew Jackson's inaugural, when crowds poured into the White House and celebrated so heartily they destroyed the furniture.

You know Jeff covered that administration.

WOODRUFF: I remember that administration as well, Jeff. You and I, we were there.

All right. We're going to take another quick break. A lot more coverage here.

The celebration the day before the inaugural about to begin about an hour or so from now. The entertainers getting ready. It's called a Celebration of Freedom. Our special coverage, "George W. Bush: The Road Ahead."

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage, a Celebration of Freedom, "George W. Bush: The Road Ahead." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington, together with Judy Woodruff.

Ken Mehlman is the new chairman of the Republican National Committee. He was the campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Congratulations, Ken. I understand you took -- you took office earlier today.


It was great. It's an honor to serve in this position. I loved working with the RNC members during the campaign, and I look forward to working with them going forward.

BLITZER: The weather, how much of a damper does it put on this inauguration?

MEHLMAN: Well, look, it's unfortunately. Obviously, it makes traffic more congested than it already would be because of security. But folks in D.C. know about a January celebration. They're ready for it.

I think they're doing a good job. And we're going to have a great time the next couple days celebrating this country, celebrating freedom and honoring our troops.

WOODRUFF: Ken Mehlman, speaking of...

MEHLMAN: Hey, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Hi there. And congratulations.

MEHLMAN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: You mentioned when you spoke to the RNC members today that the president had a mandate, and yet our new poll showing Americans split right down the middle on whether this president is a uniter or a divider. Forty-nine percent of them saying he's a divider. Does -- do numbers like that seriously put a damper on what the president's trying to do?

MEHLMAN: I don't think it does, Judy. And here's why.

This is a president that was aelected by more than 3.5 million votes because he said exactly what he wanted to do. And the American people knew that and they voted for him.

And ultimately, it's not about poll numbers or this or that. What it's about is, do you have solutions to the problems that our country faces?

One of the most important questions is, if you're under 30 right now, you don't have a secure retirement. Our president has a plan to make sure you have a secure retirement, and it also allows younger workers who right now can't save any money to actually save extra money they can pass along as a nest egg through a personal retirement account.

According to a recent "Washington Post" poll, the majority of people support that. It's not surprising that 60 percent of people don't think Social Security will be there for them. That's one example of an issue where I think the president's leadership and the American's people's desire to get a solution to a problem will prove a good result.


MEHLMAN: Tax reform is another good example. So on issue after issue, this president said, here's what I wanted to do. He won a ma jorty, the first popular majority since 1988. And now we look forward to working with members in both parties to accomplish the people's agenda.

BLITZER: Ken, how much consideration was there given to scale back the parties, if you will, given the fact that United States is at war right now and troops are dying in Iraq? MEHLMAN: Well, Wolf, obviously one of the reasons we are honoring our troops is because of the fact that that sacrifice is so incredibly important. I think you'll hear the president talk tomorrow about the price we're having to pay for freedom.

I think the folks at the inaugural committee did a fantastic job. They raised private funds for this. The taxpayers were not involved.

And we have a great opportunity, I think, too, as a nation to come together across party lines, across ideological lines, across every other line and celebrate our nation's freedom, and celebrate the fact that our troops is the ones that are keeping us free. And that's an important celebration for everyone to think about.

WOODRUFF: Ken, let me ask you quickly about one of the so-called social issues, and that is the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. First of all, is the president going to bring this up in the inaugural address? It's something he said he would push for during the campaign, but just a few days ago now he's quoted as saying this is not something he plans to push for the time being.

Which is it?

MEHLMAN: Well, a couple things, Judy. I'm not going to preview the president's inaugural address. I'm going to let him do that.

I think that the president has been clear during the campaign that he is a strong supporter of promoting and protecting marriage. I think you can expect him to do that in the course of the next coming years.

That's something that's very important to him. It's something he believes is critically important to our nation in making sure that children grow up in the most nurturing environments they can, and in a place which is appropriate for them to be able to live to their god given potential.

That's ultimately what this is about. It's about children. And this president believes strongly we need to do what's best for those children.

WOODRUFF: Ken Mehlman, thank you very much. And again, congratulations from us.

MEHLMAN: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Thank you, Ken Mehlman, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee. He's going to be a busy guy over these next several years.

Let's go up to Capitol Hill. Joe Johns, our congressional correspondent, is joining us now live.

You're where, on the west front of the Capitol? That's where all the activities are going to be taking place tomorrow morning. What's it like right now, Joe? JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Wolf. Among the preparations and the rehearsals they've been doing here at the Capitol, they put down a lot of plastic in order to try to shield the seats nearest to the podium from all the snow. Now they're in the process of getting rid of that plastic and trying to get rid of the snow.

Of course, everybody is looking forward to tomorrow. It will be a very full day for the president of the United States and his family.

It starts with a traditional church service, followed by the inauguration here at the Capitol at that podium with its bullet proof glass you're looking at at this moment. That speech, of course, and the inauguration scheduled to go off at 12:00 noon. That will be followed, of course, by a signing ceremony in the president's room of the United States Capitol and then a luncheon with the Congress inside Statuary Hall. They'll taker a picture there. The Presdient leaves the Capitol for the reviewing stand down by the White House mid afternoonish, of course to watch the parade. The parade traditionally stages at 4th NW, near Pennsylvania Avenue up here closer to the Capitol. Of course you can't see that at this time.

The parade expected to conclude about 5:00 tomorrow afternoon. And then the inaugural balls. A tradition, of course, in Washington, we're told. There will be about nine of them at least officially sanctioned inaugural balls. These, of course, are events that have been referred to in past year as the night of the long furs and regardless of what those coats are made of, people certainly will be looking forward to keeping warm tomorrow evening.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And I was going to make a point, Joe, because I've been on that podium during previous inaugurations, there are floor heaters, if you will, in the front for the distinguished guests and the Chief Justice William Rehnquist, is frail right now, very ill. He's scheduled to swear in the president. So it won't be as bad for those guests right in the front there. But further back, members of Congress, others from the executive, the legislative branches, it's going to be very cold up there. Who eventually would make the decision, I don't know if you know the answer to this question to move it indoors as they did for Ronald Reagan's second inauguration in 1985?

JOHNS: Well, if I remember correctly that was a collaborative decision. A bunch of people had to get in the same room and really talk about it and decide it was just simply too cold to go forward, of course, we're told the cold will be nothing like it was back during that second inaugural of Ronald Reagan. And the other thing, of course, is that apparently the president's speech will be thankfully very short, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Joe Johns reporting for us, Joe, thank you very much. Jeff Greenfield and Judy let's show our viewers some pictures of what is happening on the Ellipse right now. We're standing by. It looks like some people are showing up. There's going to be some significant entertainment here even though it has been truncated, abbreviated because of the bad weather, snowy weather. But I see people are arriving right now, bundled up, ready to go.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN COMMENTATOR: One of the things about this, the west front of the Capitol faces out west, that's why they it the west front, all the way to the monuments. That's one of the reasons why Ronald Reagan changed a 161 tradition in 1981 by moving the inaugural from the east to the west. It looked out on America rather than Europe. But it also looked out on all the symbols of the nation and it let many more people watch him. The other thing woe like to mention very quickly, I think as many eyes will be watching William Rehnquist tomorrow almost as the president because we've gone the whole first term without a Supreme Court nomination. Rehnquist has been gravely ill. I think a lot of people are going to be looking at his demeanor to tell us whether we're going to have a resignation, in the near future, a resignation, a new nomination, what will be probably the biggest -- most contentious fight of the president's fifth year in office.

BLITZER: Here's a question for you, Judy and then we'll take a quick break. Is it smart to bring the chief justice down there? He's in a wheelchair. Those who have seen him eventually say he is looking very, very frail. This kind of cold weather. Is that smart to risk aggravating his health in this kind of situation?

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN HOST: You know, Wolf, I have heard other people ask the very same question. It's my understanding that the chief justice himself very much wants to be part of this ceremony. He wants to be the one to swear in George W. Bush for a second term. He's very aware of all the speculations swirling around, how can he not be? But I think my impression is he wants to not only do this for his own personal reasons, he also wants to send a signal that he's strong. Now, that's not to say as Jeff just said, that it may be the next day or next week he may announce that he's prepared to step down. But we have no way of knowing at this point what he's going to do.

BITZER: We'll all be watching. That is at noon Eastern tomorrow. Has to be exactly at noon, is that right, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: No, we've actually gone eight or ten minutes and attendance -- oh, we didn't have a president for 8 minutes. Or, oh, Dick Cheney will be president. You could care way too much about that. So I think we're not in danger. The republic will survive a ten minute slide.

BLITZER: I suspect it will be exactly at noon.


BLITZER: We're going to take another quick break. Much more of our special coverage coming up. We're standing by for the entertainers. Lots of entertainers are still going to show up. It's going to be exciting here even though the snow has arrived and it's snowing on George W. Bush's parade to a certain degree. That's the second time I said that. Hopefully it will be the last.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: On this day before George W. Bush is sworn into office for a second term, January 19, a little snow has come down on the nation's capital and, therefore a celebration scheduled for this afternoon on the Ellipse just across the street from the white house, that celebration has been post appointed for an hour. It's due to get underway at 5:00 Eastern rather than 4:00 so that's why we are here. I'm here with Wolf Blitzer. We're here with Jeff Greenfield. He is just off camera. There he is. We're here to talk to you about what this city is doing as we get ready for this inaugural. And what happened with the snow? Why did it come from? How many people actually predicted we were going to get a white inaugural? Let's quickly turn to our Rob Marciano at the weather desk, the CNN meteorological desk in Atlanta. Rob, what happened?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just a little system that clipped through. We call it an Alberta clipper. We typically don't make much fanfare about the systems because they come in relatively dry and they move out pretty quickly, also. This is the VIPR doppler radar that zoomed into the Potomac, the borders of Virginia up through Maryland and DC. And we're not seeing any more snow.

So we'll zoom out and show you where the snow is, depicted in blue now heading across the Delmarva. So we are starting to see this move across the area. This is where the snow is depicted in white. You get a better sense of what is behind this system which really isn't a whole lot. Just a couple of more flurries expected later on tonight and tomorrow. And the next Alberta Clipper way up here and that's not going to come through for the weekend, so it looks like the worst is over there's no more accumulating snow in the forecast through tomorrow. So here's your official forecast. Look for cold weather through tonight with flurries continuing through tomorrow. Temperatures are already right around 22. So dropping two more degrees and we get to 20. Tomorrow's daytime high about 34 degrees, 30 degrees. Right now wind chills are down around 9. So it is not very pleasant to be outside. Tomorrow slightly more comfortable. Might even see some peeks of sunshine.

I heard you guys talking briefly about some history in past inaugural events. They had a problem of a different sort back in 1974 with Ford's inauguration, it was in August. They had temperatures near 90. So I don't know which one would you rather have. Tomorrow shouldn't be so bad. There have been worst ones.

WOODRUFF: Let me try to pin you down Rob, before you go. You said snow flurries maybe tomorrow. What exactly does that mean?

MARCIANO: Well, just some flakes of snow flying through the air. Don't expect to see any more accumulating on the road. So, Judy, the roads will be clear by tomorrow morning. Those seats in the stage will be cleared. They will have plenty of time to get this under control. We don't expect to see any more snow to fall enough so that the streets get recovered and become more of a headache. So it should be for the most part smooth sailing from here on. But temperatures will be at or below freezing which means it will stick around where it is sitting right now. So they physically have to remove it.

WOODRUFF: All right. Rob Marciano, thanks.

So Wolf it will be pretty but we don't have to deal with the streets and the kind of conditions that make it kind of lousy.

BLITZER: Thiry degress, 34 degrees sound as lot better than 20 degrees and wind chill going down a lot lower than that.

GREENFIELD: Having been high on those platforms facing the west front of the Capitol in the past inaugurals and security meaning you got there at 6:00 in the morning. I can tell you while it's very good news that we heard from Rob Marciano that it will not be blizzard conditions, snow conditions for everybody for the journalists and for citizens going out there, it's going to take a commitment to go and spend several hours in January Washington air to listen and watch the inaugural.

BLITZER: Let's hope it's not windy. Because the wind is really a factor in all of this.

WOODRUFF: But the people again, the people who come to town for this inaugural I don't think they are going to be deterred by any of this. They are here for the big event. Nothing is going to keep them away.

BLITZER: It certainly does look pretty, as our viewers see, with the Washington Monument and the Washington Mall. Right down there in the middle of all of this, our White House correspondent Dana Bash who is getting ready for the celebration herself. Set the scene a little bit for us, Dana. What should we expect?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, Wolf, I can tell you something that was sort of on again and off again, that is the fly over with that military aircraft, that was unclear if it was going to happen because it was snowing so hard as you can see. It stopped snowing so right now it is set and it's actually going to happen we think four or five minutes from now. 4:16 p.m. Eastern Time we expect to see about 13 military aircraft that includes a B-2 bomber and it includes four F-15s and they are going to be flying in missing man formation. That will be the last set of aircraft that we will see fly over.

That, of course, was supposed to happen while the festivities were going on here as the event had started. That as we have been talking about for a while now has been delayed because of the snow.

We were talking early about the fact the crowd was quite thin. Now people are starting to trickle in. You can see some people sort of traipsing across the Ellipse, trying to make their way in to the seats. But where you are looking right now, this was all supposed to be filled with people standing room only listening to the concert, listening to the music. Listening to the performers and the speeches. That, of course, is not happening yet but we do expect it to happen at the top of the hour and we do expect, we're still told, all of the performers to be actually here, it just will be truncated.

One more thing about the military component here. One thing that will not happen, the one thing we know is canceled for sure is that the Golden Parachutes, the Golden Knights, parachuters from the army were supposed to come down here on the Ellipse, in and around the Ellipse, that is not going to happen because of the weather.

But one thing i should mention to you, this is a time and a place, sort of a kickoff event that is supposed to be incorporating all of the people. There certainly has been criticism that the inaugural events are very expensive to get into, and that you have to be certainly either wealthy enough to buy a high priced ticket to an inaugural event or somebody who is part of a corporation. This kickoff event was supposed to be for everybody. Calling it, of course, a celebration of freedom. 65,000 people were supposed to be here which is why there is a little bit of -- little bit of a downer for the folks who are here and have been setting this up, that said, the snow has kept a lot of people away. As you just saw, people are starting to trickle in. Buying the hot cocoa as they walk in right outside the security perimeter.

BLTIZER: All right, Dana, I hope you get some yourself. Thanks very much. Try to stay as warm as you can. The entertainment is an impressive line-up and our entertainment analyst Jeff Greenfield, who knows all about these entertainers, is going to share some thoughts about what we can expect. Groups like the Temptations will be here, Van Cliburn, the Gatlin Brothers. We'll see some dancing from the Rockettes, as well, Jeff. This is an exciting moment, I know, for you.

GREENFIELD: I am tempted to ask you to name a couple of Temptation songs but I'm not going to ask you to do that.

That's probably the group the baby boomers. Or even people older like me, will be most interested in, even though most of the original Temptations sadly are no longer with us, if they perform "My Girl" tonight or this afternoon, that should warm up the crowd. I think it's fair to say a different line of entertainers than you would have seen had the Democrats won. I think there's a sharp undeniable cultural difference between the kinds of entertainers that appeal to if not Republicans in general then Republican Party organizers and those that appeal to Democrats. You're not going to see a lot of rap groups here. You are going to see the Gatlin Brothers is a good example. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., son of the NACAR legend. NASCAR, you remember in the campaign, John Kerry trying to appeal to the red staters by saying who among us doesn't love NASCAR. That's a sport that red staters tend to embrace more than blue staters.

WOODRUFF: Red -- blue staters like Van Cliburn, they like great piano music. There are blue staters that like country music.

GREENFIELD: This is not a sharp and clear distinction. I just think you have to be blind not to say that country music tends to be more of a Republican music and rap music probably tends to be more of a Democratic nature.

BLITZER: And I want to alert our viewers. We're standing by for this military fly over scheduled to happen just about now. We want to show that. We'll go to the skies to see the B-2 bomber and F-15s flying over the nation's capital. Once that happens, there's a know fly zone except for these aircraft throughout the area given the security precautions that are now underway.

We'll watch, Judy, as we watch and wait for that fly over. It is a beautiful sight. The more you are here in Washington, those of us who live here and I'm sure the viewers around the nation, indeed around the world, this is a majestic city.

WOODRUFF: It is a majestic city. We take it for granted to an extent. We live here. We see the Capitol every day. We see the White House almost every day. We certainly see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, but when it is all laid out. Look at the picture. What a beautiful city. There aren't many capital cities around the world that are as beautiful as this one. If we may be a little chauvinistic for a moment.

GREENFIELD: Well, I think that's fair. I can say that as a life-long New Yorker with a traditional gap (ph). This is a planned city. It was designed as the national capital. Actually it was a political deal that Thomas Jefferson was a key part of to pay off the national debt there was an agreement to put the capital not north, south but smack in the middle. Because that was a big fight at the time. And thanks to Mr. L'Enfant, we have your broad avenues, a laid out city and that's view from the west front of the Capitol, straight across the mall to the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial in the background, it is even to a jaded journalist like me it's pretty breathtaking.

BLITZER: You know what would have been breath taking, it is not going to happen, the U.S. Army's parachute team, the Golden Knights, they were going to be jumping out of planes and landing and doing all of their parachute entertainment that has become such a popular aspect of the U.S. Army over these past 43 years, unfortunately the inclement weather is going to make that impossible this time. It would have been nice to see that happen to kick off that celebration.

GREENFIELD: I kind of like Dana Bash's reference to the golden parachute. Maybe we get some corporate executives who have been fired with $20 million severance golden parachutes, and maybe they'll be here at the inaugural.

BLITZER: These are the Golden Knights.

WOODRUFF: That's a different kind of parachute.

BLITZER: We're still waiting for the flyover from the U.S. Air Force. Let's see if that happens. Maybe they canceled it because of the weather. Maybe they didn't. If it happens we'll show it to our viewers. It always exciting to see that flyover. The U.S. Air Force does that. Always such a precision flight. And, indeed, all of the military aspects of this entertainment. There will be military bands, the Air Force bands, all of the various bands from the various branches of the military will be performing here patriotic songs. It's always something, especially on this kind of historic occasion, that will excite and encourage those brave souls who have managed to arrive here for the entertainment. WOODRUFF: I think it's interesting, Wolf, over the years how this day before the inaugural, these celebrations have gotten bigger and bigger. Years ago I don't think they did much of anything like this. But as time has gone by they wanted to come up with more activities. More entertainment for the people who come to town. And I think that's why this day before event has grown so big and more important.

BLITZER: We'll stand by. We'll watch, we'll wait. You are seeing some security, law enforcement authorities, watching all of this as well they should. We'll take a quick break. More of our special coverage. George W. Bush, the road ahead in just a moment.


WOODRUFF: There is probably no ceremony with more protocol around it than the inauguration of a new president of the United States. We're going to see that tomorrow January 20, here in Washington. These are live pictures of the United States Capitol, the west front of the Capitol where George W. Bush will take the oath of office tomorrow at noon. So much history, so much fascinating history, goes into what we all celebrate tomorrow. And who better to look at what goes into this inauguration of a president than CNN's analyst Bob Novak of the CROSSFIRE program. We asked Bob to take a look, Wolf, around at some of the places that make up a presidential inaugural and here's a little bit of what he found.


BOB NOVAK, CNN COMMENTATOR: George W. Bush began his first inaugural day four years ago here at St. John's Episcopal Church just across Lafayette Park from the White House. The tradition of having services for inauguration of presidents at this church started with Frankline D. Roosevelt in 1933. The president's father, the first President George Bush continued it in 1993.

John Kennedy went to Catholic mass at a church in Georgetown. I was there. And Jimmy Carter had outdoor services at the Lincoln Memorial. Bill Clinton had his services at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church for both of his inaugurations.

(voice-over) Later in the morning the president will travel to Capitol Hill. The tradition of outgoing presidents traveling to the Capitol with the incoming president goes back to 1837.

On Capitol Hill President Bush will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist. It wasn't until 1829 when Andrew Jackson became the 7th president that an oath of office was taken outside on Capitol Hill.

(on camera) Many oath of office ceremonies inaugurating presidents were held on the other side of the Capitol on the east front. In 1961 when I was working for "The Wall Street Journal" I was the newspaper pool reporter standing only a few feet from John F. Kennedy as he took the oath of office. That was the last inauguration when a president wore this -- a top hat. To be inaugurated. 1981 when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated the inaugural ceremonies were switched to the west front overlooking the National Mall. They have been held their ever since and that's where George W. Bush will take his second oath of office this Thursday.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, do solemnly swear

JAMES EARL CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: that I will faithfully execute.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The office of the president of the United States.

GEORGE H. W BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And will to the best of my ability.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

NOVAK: After the president has taken his oath of office, and delivered his inaugural address, there's another tradition. The president will go to Statuary Hall for the inaugural luncheon hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

(on camera) After the traditional luncheon at the Capitol, President Bush will come up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House to the reviewing stand to watch the parade. It was on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1977 that President Jimmy Carter broke tradition and walked the entire length of the route from the Capitol to the White House with his family. Other presidents since have also walked part of the parade route.

We're in one of the most magnificent buildings in all of Washington, the National Building Museum. It's the sight of this year's commander and chief ball. That's the only inaugural ball limited to serving members of the U.S. military. By the middle of the 20th century, the fancy inaugural ball had become a thing of the past. Then in 1949, President Harry S Truman revived it.

This year there will be nine inaugural balls in Washington. President Bush and Mrs. Bush, and Vice President Cheney and Mrs. Cheney will try to attend as many as possible to celebrate this day in history. From George Washington to George W. Bush, every president has added his own distinctive touch to the inauguration ceremonies. What remains the same are the 35th words in the solemn vow that each president makes to his country on inauguration day.


WOODRUFF: And the only thing better than seeing Bob Novak on video is to have Bob Novak in person and he's with us right now. Bob, the first thing I want to ask is what is the difference between the first inaugural for president and the second one?

NOVAK: All the difference in the world. The first inaugural, first term inaugural is expectation, it's change, particularly when it's one party changing and giving way to another party, this dramatic change of power and this peaceful change of power in our republic. The second term is a little bit -- we've got that before. It's not quite excitement.

BLITZER: What kind of pressure, though is he going to be under to deliver a speech that rouse the nation and indeed the world?

NOVAK: Well, they hope so. I thought that President Clinton's first inaugural speech was very well done. I thought the second inaugural speech was one of the worst speech ever of any inauguration. That's maybe the worst inaugural address I've ever heard. It's very tough for the second inaugural address. Because it's hard -- don't forget, inaugural address is not like a State of the Union. Isn't a laundry list. You don't come out with a lot of proposals. It's a message to regenerate the nation, to get it moving. That's tough in a second address.

GREENFIELD: We have had, I think, exactly one memorable second inaugural and that was Lincoln's, which was the end of the Civil War and it's considered one of the great speeches of any president "to bind up the wounds with malice toward none" and he never had a chance to execute that because he was assassinated.

I guess the other thing worth mentioning is you can't always tell what a president is going to do by his words. When Roosevelt was re- inaugurated in 1937 "The New York Times" praised him for not bringing up the controversy with the Supreme Court which was knocking down all the New Deal legislation. They said this was a very good sign wasn't going to take a fight. Within a few weeks he was in the worst fight of his second term over his attempt to pack the Supreme Court. So the words we hear tomorrow, while we all take a careful look at them, may not necessarily be a clue as to what the second term brings.

NOVAK: My first inaugural was the 1961 and the night before was a night when they had a blizzard. I had a first date with one of Lyndon Johnson's secretaries who became my wife and has been my wife for over 40 years

BLITZER: Well, we know your wife. And she's a lovely woman.

WOODRUFF: So, you have a real reason to celebrate with Geraldine this evening.


BLITZER: We have some pictures from that year. That was the year that John F. Kennedy delivered one of the most memorable speeches, that one line, ask not what you country can do for you, but what you can do for you country.

NOVAK: But it wasn't just the one line, Wolf. It was a beautifully structured speech. Ted Sorensen wrote it. I was standing there. I was just in awe, because I had covered a lot of Senator Kennedy's campaign. His campaign speeches were kind of staccato, kind of repetition, not very inspiring. This was a great speech.

But, as a critic, I think it was the high point of his presidency. I don't think the next three years ever lived up to that great speech. Of course, it was -- he was tragically cut short.

WOODRUFF: Bob, you're talking to people around the president, Republicans all the time. Is the expectation that President Bush tomorrow is going to reach out, make some effort at unifying the country? We just -- we have cited this poll showing almost half of Americans think he has been a divider and, frankly, as many who think he has united the country.

NOVAK: Well, I think his father, in his only inaugural address, tried to unite the country. I think it fell flat. He sounded weak.

I think saying I want to be your friend to people who have been pounding you -- and they were pounding his nominee for secretary of state in the last two days on the Hill, I don't think that works. I think, rather than unify, I think he wants to inspire. That's what -- and that's very difficult, to inspire the country, particularly after you have been around for four years and a lot of people know your high points and your low points. and your faults and your strengths.

GREENFIELD: There's one other point. It's much hard to use rhetoric to move the country now than it was in John Kennedy's day. There's a really good book on this inaugural. And we're going to do a long analysis of Kennedy's September. The book is called "Ask Not" by Thurston Clarke.

One of the things that he told me when I interviewed him was that we have become so much more skeptical about the government. In those days, three-quarters of the country thought you could trust the government most of the time. Today, it's probably closer to one- fourth. And so the kind of elegant, high-level language that John Kennedy used I think in this television age, in this conversational age, rhetoric doesn't carry the weight that it did.

NOVAK: Another thing about that inauguration ceremony is that you had a couple of really interesting personalities besides the president.

You had Cardinal Cushing of Boston, who was sort of every Protestant's dream of what a Catholic should be. And he was a rough character. And you had Robert Frost, who lost...

WOODRUFF: How can you miss?

NOVAK: Who did it by memory, an old poem by memory.

BLITZER: Bob Novak has been covering these inaugurations since 1961, still covering them. We hope you're on for many more years to cover these inaugurations.

NOVAK: Thank you very much, Wolf. BLITZER: Appreciate it very much. And tell your wife she deserves at least a good little medal, right?

NOVAK: A big medal.

BLITZER: Yes. She's a very nice lady.

We are going to take another quick break. We're standing by. The entertainment is expected to begin in about 15 minutes, entertainment ranging from the Rockettes to the Gatlin Brothers to the Temptations. A lot going on here. The president of the United States expected, the vice president of the United States together with the first lady and Mrs. Cheney. We'll watch all of this.

Much more of our special coverage on this day before the inauguration in just a moment.


BLITZER: You're looking at the North Portico of the White House. This is where we expect the president of the United States to be walking out shortly.

The president will be heading over to the ellipse for the entertainment, which is expected to begin very, very soon, together with the first lady, the vice president, Mrs. Cheney as well in the front of the North Lawn of the White House. That's the reviewing stand, the official reviewing stand for tomorrow afternoon's parade down Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House. The president will be there, together with the vice president and other invited guests. They will be reviewing the reviewing stand out there.

This is now the Ellipse, where the entertainment is about to begin. Ryan Seacrest will be emceeing the entertainment. And there will be a lot of guests, a lot of entertainers, the crowd, though, unfortunately, a lot thinner than had been expected; 65,000 people had been expected to sit in those chairs. Unfortunately, the snowy weather, the cold weather here in Washington has kept that crowd down.

Welcome back to our continuing coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer, with Judy Woodruff, Jeff Greenfield.

Dana Bash is down there amidst the crowd.

Dana, I take it you have word now on that flyover that was supposed to take place.


The flyover that we had reported just a short while ago we thought was just minutes away was, in fact, canceled. And you can tell, Wolf, and as we have been reporting, this is a program that is very much in flux because of the way the situation, because of the snow. The flyover was supposed to happen at 4:16. It obviously did not happen. The Pentagon is saying that it didn't happen because of the cloud level, the low cloud ceiling. That's particularly why it didn't happen. So, at this point, we're waiting for the rest of the program to begin. There were supposed to be fireworks to begin the program at dusk. Unclear if that's supposed to happen. Right now, we are hearing that they will. And we're also understanding that the rest of the entertainment will go on again, as we've been saying, just in a truncated fashion.

It will be a program that will last just a little bit over an hour, we are told. And, of course, as you mentioned, we are still expecting the president of the United States and the vice president to attend this official kickoff to the inaugural events.

BLITZER: Give us a little flavor. How cold is it out there, Dana?

BASH: It's very cold. It's very cold. Everybody is bundled up.

You see people walking in gripping their hot chocolate that they bought before they walked in through the security perimeter, very, very cold. People are very much bundled up. The seats were covered with snow just until minutes before they came in. You saw a lot of people brushing the snow off the seats just to sit down. And, of course, there are a lot of areas where there aren't seats. People are just standing in the snow.

And it's extremely cold. But people are starting to come in. But it's still very much, Wolf, a thin crowd, especially considering the very large crowd that they expected here.

BLITZER: All right, Dana Bash is down there amidst those hearty souls who have actually come, Judy. This is...

WOODRUFF: Wolf, we're -- I was going to say we're feeling a little guilty, not terribly guilty, but a little guilty that we're not down there with Dana all bundled up.


BLITZER: Share a secret with our viewers, where the three of us were supposed to be right now.

WOODRUFF: And the fact is, all three of us are wearing long underwear. We normally don't share those kind of intimate details.


GREENFIELD: Two of us are wearing long underwear. One of us was smart enough to get rid of it after we got back inside.



BLITZER: We were supposed to be down there with Dana and everyone else anchoring the coverage from the actual scene.

But once it became truncated, once the weather got as bad as it did, we decided, correctly, that we would do it from here.

Jeff Greenfield very happy about that.

GREENFIELD: You know, he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. I think this was a prudent decision that we made.

But, in fairness, one thing that Judy said earlier I think is absolutely true. I was on my way to the Ellipse before this got turned around. People who are out there, yes, they are cold and, yes, they would rather it was 50 degrees. But when you have come 1,000 and 2,000 miles to celebrate the victory of the president you supported, and you -- I saw a couple of people who have actually taken their kids out of school for this week to come.

The weather is going to be a small factor. This is still for many people, they will go home and they will remember this for the rest of their lives. Yes, they will remember being cold and they'll remember talking to their new friends about it. It's a very big deal to see a president of the United States sworn in to office.

WOODRUFF: And you could just see, when Dana was talking a minute ago, Wolf and Jeff, those kids, young teens, preteens jumping up and down, they were cold. But this is fun for them. This is something that they will remember.

BLITZER: It's fun for us, too. And we will remember it as well.

We're going to get to the entertainment. We're going to take a quick break first. The celebration is about to begin here in Washington on the Ellipse, the Washington Mall, on this day before the inauguration.

Coming up, we'll be watching live entertainment. The Gatlin Brothers, among others, they will be singing, the crowd anticipating a rousing performance by them. In addition, we're standing by, very different kind of group, the Temptations will be here as well, the Temptations a group that all of our I guess baby boomers will certainly remember. There will be dancing. And who better to perform than the Rockettes? The Rockettes coming from Radio City Music Hall in New York. They will be presented as well. And the president of the United States, we expect remarks from him.

This is about to begin. We'll take a quick break, the Celebration of Freedom. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage, "George W. Bush: The Road Ahead."

The Celebration of Freedom now beginning on the Ellipse, the Washington Mall, the color guards being introduced. We're expecting the president of the United States, the vice president, first lady, Mrs. Cheney, other guests. They will all be there, together with entertainers, dancers, music from the U.S. military bands and others. You see the first President Bush and Barbara Bush already there. They are bundled up. They are excited, as well, Judy Woodruff, as they should be.

WOODRUFF: They are.

BLITZER: Their son is about to do something that the father was unable to do.

WOODRUFF: That's right, George H.W. Bush defeated when he ran against Bill Clinton in 1992, the son -- they are very happy about it. And if you believe what you read in interviews with the father, no bitterness, no -- nothing negative. He's just thrilled for his son.

We saw -- I want to mention another family member. Presidential sister Doro Bush was there with her parents.

BLITZER: The whole Bush family.

Also with us is David Frum. He was a speechwriter for this President Bush and now is no longer a speechwriter.

But what goes through your mind as you anticipate the next several hours?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, the next several hours are going to be -- let's just hope they're just not too cold. And let's hope it doesn't snow tomorrow.

The focal point tomorrow is going to be on what the president says. And let's hope that is effective. It is tremendously difficult to do a good inauguration speech. And, frankly, most presidents have not done it. And the obstacles are very great, because you have to hit the right tone. You don't want to be too specific. You don't want to go too long. And they are so conscious of the footfalls of history. It's hard to avoid infectious Kennedy-itis.

BLITZER: How much involvement does this president have in his major speeches?

FRUM: Oh, a lot. And on this one, the president was thinking about it before the election.

And he -- it's your chance to relaunch this whole second term, especially for this president, who never really had a real first term. That first term was like playing poker with a pair of fours. He was bluffing all his way through. Now he's got a real political basis of strength.

WOODRUFF: As someone who wants to see this president very much succeed, David, what do you want to hear from him tomorrow?

FRUM: I want to hear him be very precise, not specific, because that's not the appropriate stance with a speech like this, but very precise about what he's going to do. The clearer you are about laying down the markers at a moment like this, the clearer you are, that indicates that you are clear in your own mind about how you intend to use these four years.

Four years is a long time. But there are only so many minutes in them. And the president has to eat and has to sleep. And the constraints are very serious there.

WOODRUFF: What's an example of a marker?

FRUM: A marker is to say, we will reform the retirement security system of the United States for -- to make people owners for a new century.

A marker is, we will have a tax code that accelerates economic growth. A marker is, we will not allow the world's most dangerous regimes to acquire nuclear weapons.

GREENFIELD: You have got all kinds of different audiences here, because this is one of those speeches where the world pays extremely close attention.

In fact, Kennedy's inaugural that we were talking about a few minutes ago had I think one sentence about domestic affairs in the entire speech. To the extent that the president seems to be telling us that spreading democracy and freedom around the world as a goal to both protect the United States, make the world safer, make the Middle East peaceful, you expect him to be very declarative about that goal, which is going to be heard around the world in very different ways.

FRUM: Well, I think there's a real danger in being too lofty. That's what I meant about infectious Kennedy-itis.

There are a lot of people around the world, when they question the American view on democracy, it's not like America's European friends don't believe in democracy. They think democracy is something Americans put into speeches and then don't do anything about. President Bush in his first term when his speeches were most effective, it was because he was clear they meant action.

When he said that he would not -- when he gave those speeches about Iraq, that he was clear action would follow. Same thing after September the 20th of 2001. Action would follow. Action, that's the thing about this man as a president. He's an active leader. He's not an introspective person. He's not somebody who loves to question and to probe. He's someone who likes to act. And that action should sort of ripple and pulse to his beat.

BLITZER: How concerned, David, are you that he's surrounding himself -- this is the suggestion -- by people who are basically of the same position, that he doesn't have any real naysayers there that are going to throw some caution into some of these policies?

FRUM: Well, I have to say, I've got sort of the opposite concern.

What I've got, I've got a concern, is that there is a creeping rigidity that's coming into the administration, that the number of people who's instinct is caution and to do nothing is gradually multiplying. And you see that at the second echelon of the Department of State. You see that in a lot of other places.

I worry that he should have -- if I can express worries, one is, I think the administration is awfully casual about the personnel. They are getting people with great resumes and great test scores, but they are not necessarily tough enough on whether or not these people agree with the president's philosophy.

And, second -- it's boring, it's wonkish, but policy coordination, no one know what that means until it stops working. And there were a lot of times in the first term where it stopped working.

WOODRUFF: All right, David Frum, we're going to ask you to stay with us. David Frum has written speeches for George W. Bush. We're talking to him about tomorrow.

We're looking at live pictures of what is about to be a big celebration at the Ellipse right across from the White House.

Our live coverage continues. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Snowy day here in the nation's capital. It's a beautiful day, but cold and snowy. Unfortunately, it put a little bit of a damper on this day before the presidential inauguration.

We're standing by. The president has now -- we're told, has left the White House. He's in the motorcade, heading over to the Ellipse, not very far away, for this entertainment, this celebration. Some hearty souls have gathered on the Ellipse to listen, to watch, and to enjoy, to participate in this aspect of the American democracy. It happens every four years, something that all Americans certainly can cherish.

Welcome back to our continuing coverage with Judy Woodruff, Jeff Greenfield. We're also joined now by David Frum, a former speechwriter for this President Bush.

The remarks that he delivers today -- and he'll make some brief remarks here -- I guess, what kind of tone should we anticipate? What do we expect to hear?

FRUM: Tonight?

BLITZER: Right now.

FRUM: Oh. Brief, short, jolly. They will feel like he just tossed them off. They're not going to be something to be carved. And they don't want to spoil the appetite for tomorrow. And that's a major -- tomorrow is a major statement. And that's when he's going to deliver the philosophy of his second term.

BLITZER: Does the second term -- people think four years. But it's really not a whole lot of time, given what he has as a very ambitious agenda domestically and internationally.

FRUM: Yes. And there are...

BLITZER: And let me interrupt for a second. We see the Rockettes now on the stage from Radio City Music Hall. They will be performing. They will be performing. They have been performing for so many years.

I think, if we can, if they are about to begin, wouldn't we like to watch this presentation from the Rockettes once they begin?

Let's watch the Rockettes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host for today's inaugural gala, A Celebration of Freedom, outstanding radio personality and host of the very popular Fox television series "American Idol," Ryan Seacrest.

RYAN SEACREST, HOST: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, Radio City Rockettes. You look wonderful and I know you're freezing. Go get warm. Put on some long johns.

It is a privilege to be here. Welcome to the 55th inaugural gala, the event in honor of an American idol who can't carry a tune, but will carry our country for the next four years, President George W. Bush.


SEACREST: Today's theme is A Celebration of Freedom. And it seems most appropriate during this time of struggle and conflict in the world to focus on the rewards and gifts of freedom wherever it exists.

I'm happy to say that this event is being broadcast by satellite to our armed forces overseas, who are greatly responsible for us being able to hold this celebration in safety and comfort.


SEACREST: Yes, feel free to applaud for that, please.


SEACREST: They more than most understand that freedom has a price and they are proud to assume that debt. Our thanks to all of you. We wish you Godspeed in your mission.

Now, we have gathered an enthusiastic array of talented and dedicated performers to share their shots and songs with you today. In addition, we've enlisted the aid of the military from all branches of the service to add their precision and their patriotic presence. So, we've got that. Plus, many of the youngsters from the Washington, D.C., area who are going to participate in the ceremonies, we obviously thank them all.

Now, one of the most remarkable stories to come out of the tragedy of 9/11 was the emergence of a New York City policeman who is also a singer with a magnificent tenor voice. Since that fateful day, Daniel Rodriguez has lent that powerful voice and his sincere sentiments in the service of remembrance and healing.

It is our pleasure to welcome him here today and to sing a song of faith and hope to sing Irving Berlin's patriotic anthem, "God Bless America."

Here is Daniel Rodriguez, ladies and gentlemen.


DANIEL RODRIGUEZ, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: As the storm clouds gather far across the sea, let us swear allegiance to a land that's free. Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, as we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.


BLITZER: What a beautiful rendition of "God Bless America" by Daniel Rodriguez, the so-called singing cop. An inspiring, inspiring rendition of "God Bless America."

We're continuing to watch the entertainment as the "Celebration of Freedom" continues. We're standing by to hear from the Gatlin Brothers. Ruben Studdard will be here from "American Idol," as well. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kenny Chesney will be performing.

The president expected to arrive very shortly, as well. Judy, that was a lovely, lovely kickoff to what is expected to be an exciting hour.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CO-HOST: It was. And Wolf, originally this was a two-hour program, but they condensed it because of the weather. They were worried about people being able to get there. And frankly, to stay comfortable in these frigid temperatures for two hours. So they squeezed it down to about an hour. But we're still going to see some pretty extraordinary entertainment.

BLITZER: I think the Gatlin Brothers are singing right now, performing. Maybe we should listen to a little bit of that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you and God loves you. Thanks. Bye- bye.

BLITZER: Larry, Steve and Rudy Gatlin performing for those who have gathered on the Washington Mall, The Ellipse.

There's the first President Bush, the proud father of this president who is about to be inaugurated for a second time. Barbara Bush. Probably no one prouder than she is as she watches these festivities, the "Celebration of Freedom" as they call it. Under very chilly temperatures here in the nation's capital.

Jeff Greenfield, the music is lovely. You've got to admit. JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And I think what also strikes me is looking at the family. We talk so much about dynasties in America, the Kennedy dynasty. This Bush family, while it doesn't call itself that, really has now probably achieved more, probably, than any other family. Father and son presidents, with not just a one-term but a two-term president. A grandfather who was a United States senator. The president's brother who's the governor of Florida and is talked about as a national possible office seeker, and George P. Bush, the next generation, who is seen as major political talent.

So when you look back over American history, you cannot find a single family that has accumulated quite as much political success as the Bush family.

WOODRUFF: And may I say it's so cold that the senior Bush, former President George H.W. just put a ski hat, or what looks like a ski hat on his head. That tells you it is cold out there.

BLITZER: You see the electric little pillows or whatever.

WOODRUFF: That's what that is. I was trying to figure out what that was.

BLITZER: Those are heaters that are going to try to keep the Barbara Bush and George Herbert Walker Bush at least a little bit warmer. That's their daughter who's sitting alongside, as well.

David Frum is still with us, the former speechwriter for the current President Bush.

DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: I was going to say he's violating the first rule of presidential politics, which is no hats.

WOODRUFF: No hats. But he doesn't have to worry about this anymore, because he's not running, as far as we know.

BLITZER: He's not running for president. He's trying to stay warm under really cold, I think it's, what, in the 20s right now. But the wind chill is a lot colder than that, as we await the motorcade, the president arriving from the White House, should be there momentarily.

WOODRUFF: Talking about what Jeff just said and the dynasty or close to a dynasty. There is a Bush who could run for president if he wanted to, if he were interested, and that would be the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, who, in fact, everyone in the Bush family thought was going to run for president.

FRUM: It's more than that. When you talk to people in the Republican Party, and you go through who should our candidates be? You would normally make it be your best governor, especially from a big state. And we've got a guy, he's perfect. He's a fabulous governor. There's one problem, his last name.

BLITZER: He has said he's not going to run for president in 2008. He said that, Judy, repeatedly, hasn't he?

WOODRUFF: He has. But you know, people have been known to change their minds.

GREENFIELD: But David does make a good point. The first -- George W. Bush has greatly benefited by the fact that he was a Bush. A lot of people when he first moved into the national seat thought it was the father. Oh, he was good the first time.

This time there's a fear that that's enough. I mean, we just can't do another Bush right away. But yes, a very popular governor of a state with 27 electoral votes. The biggest battleground state in the country. Under ordinary circumstances that would be pretty attractive.

FRUM: And the best conservative reform governor there is.

BLITZER: And you see the presidential motorcade, the presidential motorcade, the flashing light there right in the middle of your screen. The motorcade is arriving with the president, the vice president, others who are going to be coming in.

Right now if we want to show our viewers what's happening up on the stage. This is the U.S. infantry, the Old Guard, the profession of flags. The herald trumpets, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment that will be involved in this. This is always an exciting moment, the color guards. The military participation, taking on, David, from such an important part of this celebration, because U.S. troops are at war right now.

FRUM: This is the -- the first president to have been re-elected under these circumstances since World War II. John Kerry after the election kept saying, it must have been -- it was a tremendous advantage, George Bush was unbeatable, because there were all these American troops fighting.

Well, actually, having American troops in the field when you're running for re-election is a bad thing. The two presidents who had large numbers of troops and sought re-election, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, both lost or close to lost the New Hampshire primary within their own party. And to be re-elected at a time of war, with troops fighting, that's a remarkable achievement.

BLITZER: Let's listen to these, the herald trumpets.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States and Mrs. Laura Bush, the vice president of the United States, and Mrs. Lynne Cheney.


BLITZER: The first lady, Lynne Cheney, the president, the vice president, they're going to a heated area on the stage over there. They're getting ready for this entertainment. They are now formally there.

First lady looks like she -- Judy talk a little bit about what the first lady is wearing, because you're more familiar with this than I am.

WOODRUFF: Well, it's a beautiful white outfit. Involves a coat, a cape combination. And you know, looks to me as if...

BLITZER: Is this warm enough for her?

WOODRUFF: Well, I don't think it's warm enough. You know, there are ways of making, you know -- we used to hear Pat Nixon, the wife of Richard Nixon talk about wearing the cloth coat. I assume that's a wool coat, a cashmere coat. But you need a little more than that when the temperature's down in the 20s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Singing sensation and "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard.

BLITZER: The national anthem, Ruben Studdard of "American Idol." Let's listen.


BLITZER: Ruben Studdard, with a beautiful rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," at this celebration of freedom taking place here in Washington, D.C., on The Ellipse, across the street from the White House.

The president, the vice president, are there. Much more of this celebration coming up. More entertainment, including the Temptations, among others. We'll get back to that.

But we want to make a quick transition to our Jeanne Meserve. She's getting some information about security. Not directly related to what's going on here. But we want to bring it to our viewers.

Jeanne, what have you learned?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, sources tell us that the joint terrorism task force in Boston has issued a "be on the lookout" for four individuals that it would like to find and talk to.

According to multiple law enforcement sources, information was received from an unnamed source of unknown credibility that four Chinese chemists and two Iraqis had been smuggled across the border with Mexico into the U.S., and that these individuals were making their way to Boston via New York. They were either carrying or were going to take receipt of some dangerous materials.

Now let me emphasize that this is an unnamed source, that this has not been corroborated information in any way whatsoever. However, there are some responses to it.

We have spoken to the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety. They tell me that their emergency operations center has been partially activated, and that law enforcement throughout Massachusetts has been put on alert. A spokesman there says they do not have enough specific information yet to take specific actions, but they are -- put people on alert so that if they get that information they will be able to mobilize quickly.

I have been told by the TSA that there has been no change in the security status at Logan Airport in Boston. And we are told that the governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, who's here in Washington, is going to be speaking to the press shortly about this situation.

Let me tell you that all of our sources say that they get many tips about terrorists on the Mexican border. They try to run each and every one of them down. That is exactly what they're trying to do here now. They do not know yet if this is credible information -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeanne Meserve reporting for us. Thank you, Jeanne, very much. We'll continue to monitor that situation for our viewers.

We're also watching what's happening on The Ellipse on the Washington Mall across the street from the White House. We'll go back there for more live coverage.

We'll also speak with Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers. Other entertainers we're standing by to hear from, including the country western singer Kenny Chesney. And the -- Andrea Bocelli will be speaking, as well, the great opera star.

So much more coverage from Washington, GEORGE W. BUSH: THE ROAD AHEAD. We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: It's a beautiful, cold January evening in Washington, D.C. Tomorrow we inaugurate a president, George W. Bush, for his second term. Tonight, it's all about celebrating George W. Bush.

On the other side of the White House, from the size you're looking at right there, that's where the president's going to be watching the inaugural parade tomorrow. On the other side is the so- called Ellipse, and that's where the celebration is taking place right now. President Bush, first lady Laura Bush, other members of the Bush family, close friends there watching the performers.

One of those performers from a few minutes ago, the Gatlin Brothers, very well known country music group. Larry Gatlin joins us now.

Larry Gatlin, you're one of the tough ones who actually showed up this afternoon.

LARRY GATLIN, MUSICIAN: Well, you know, the way I look at it, we have men and women around the world who are facing a lot tougher situations and conditions than we have here today. So it was an honor for us to be asked, Judy and Wolf and everyone, so when the Gatlin boys are called, we show up. That's kind of our West Texas work ethic. We're glad to be here.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate your putting it in perspective. Tell us how did you happen to be here? They asked you, you came. Did you know the president loved your music?

GATLIN: Well, I've told people, we're America's guests. If you invite us, we'll probably show up. You know, we write thank you letters and send flowers.

We've known the Bush family for many years. In 1958 three little old snotty nosed kids sang. I was 10 years old. Steve was 8. Rudy was 6. We sang at the first -- at a campaign stop for then George H.W. Bush. He was a young man running for the United States Congress in that district out in West Texas. He didn't win that one, but he later moved -- he and Miss B. moved down to Houston. And he won the next time that he ran.

So we've known the family for a long time. We admire them and respect them. We've been good friends. We've been to Camp David. We've stayed at the White House. And are very honored to sit with him tomorrow for the big -- the big event.

BLITZER: The weather, how much of a factor was it at all in your decision to be there? Because some of the other entertainers could not show up. Planes couldn't land, or whatever. Was there ever a moment where you were on the fence, if you will, about making this appearance?

GATLIN: Oh, absolutely not. I tell people, "When it's too tough for everybody else, it's just right for me."

I really, like I say, I appreciate the honor. We didn't know if the show itself was going to go. My son works for the president, was here earlier today doing some advance work. And he said, "Daddy it's kind of up in the air. But we'll keep you informed."

So when George Slater said, "Let's go," that was good enough for me.

We're -- like I say, we have men and women sleeping in the dirt tonight around the world in situations, people shooting at them and stuff. So this is the least we can do for our country. We are -- we are glad to be here. We really are.

BLITZER: Larry, our viewers around the country heard you and your brothers perform "Stand Up." "Stand Up." That was a beautiful rendition of that song. What made you pick that one today?

GATLIN: Well, a couple -- after -- right after 9/11 a lot of song writers wrote songs, and I didn't do it for a little while.

And then I was asked by the University of South Carolina to come honor their policemen, firemen, medical folks and the soldiers, and I couldn't figure out what to do. Everybody does "God Bless America" or, you know, "America the Beautiful." And I was sitting on the golf cart with Coach Darrell Royal of University of Texas fame, three national championships, my great friend. And I took the golf -- the scoring pencil and the golf card, and I wrote, "Into the fire, into the fray," so we thought that was the appropriate one.

Our father is a Marine. He's not a former Marine or an ex- Marine. He's just a 78-year-old Marine not currently on active duty. So we did that for Pop, too.

GREENFIELD: Larry, it's Jeff Greenfield. I know that -- I know that it may be unfair to characterize one music or another as political. But there does some to be an affinity between a lot of country music folks and both Bushes. There were a number of prominent country music women that toured with the first President Bush in 1988. We tend to think that this President Bush has an affinity for country music and vice versa.

Is there anything to that, and if so, what's that about?

GATLIN: Well, you know, most of us are from the red states. I mean, it's just a fact -- it's just a fact of geography or birth or something.

I don't want to -- you know, I'm not going to sit here and say hey, folks from the West or from down South or the heartland are the only ones that get this president and what he's about. That's too much of a generalization.

But like I say, we personally have been friends of the family for a long time. We all know that folks on the right coast and the left coast in a general way, not specifically, because we have, you know, Republicans in California, New York, too. I know that, but it just seems just kind of the way things are. I don't know if it's from simpler beginnings.

I do believe that maybe a lot of folks back East and out in California, unfortunately, they're not sure. They really don't think we have running water and electricity in Texas. They think we're just kind of camping out. We're not camping out. I mean, I have a college education. I don't really have to take a boot off to count all the way to eleven, you know?

BLITZER: Larry, is this the first time the Gatlin Brothers have performed at a presidential inauguration?

GATLIN: No, sir. Well, actually we did -- the president asked us to sing a song that I wrote called, "Come, Let Us Reason Together." After the 38-day -- well, we in Texas call it an act of God. The 38 days in Florida. You know the fact that those little ladies couldn't read that butterfly ballot. And the same little old ladies in Florida can work 14 bingo tickets at the same time. So we figure it's an act of God.

So that's when I wrote a song called, "Come, Let Us Reason Together." And I sang it at a prayer service in Austin the next day after the -- the Florida debacle was over. And the president asked us to sing that at the prayer service four years ago at the National Cathedral.

So we've sung at campaign rallies for him. I sang at his inaugural as a Texas governor. My friend Ben Crenshaw, his wife Julie, my wife Janice, the four of us, co-hosted his first fund- raising dinner in Austin for the governorship many years ago. So, we've been asked to do it before.

And like I say, if he'll send me to Baghdad, I'll go. Or I'll just sing, whatever. I'm ready.

WOODRUFF: Larry Gatlin, one other question. You -- I don't want you to betray any confidences. But when you do get a chance to talk to this president, what do you talk about? Do you talk about politics, music, sports?

GATLIN: Well, we have a lot of mutual friends from West Texas. So we talk about our friends. And it's kind of like I am about my son. I wish I'd have been more of a cheerleader for his golf game. I was too much of a coach. So when I get with the president, I throw down the clipboard. I'm not going to be the coach, I'm going to be the cheerleader. I tell him how much I love him, how much I respect him, that if he needs the Gatlin boys to do stuff, to go places, we will do that. That we pray for him daily.

And yes, Mr. Newdow, I use the word God. Deal with it. That's the way I feel about it. And he's my friend, first of all. And my commander in chief and my leader. So I try to be a helpmate to him and let him know that whatever needs to be done, we'll do it.

WOODRUFF: Larry Gatlin, we really do appreciate you talking to us. We loved your music a few minutes ago. We thank you for taking time to come over and talk to us.

BLITZER: And we are huge fans.

GATLIN: I'm honored. God bless.

BLITZER: The Gatlin Brothers, an institution for four decades here in this country and around the world.

GATLIN: Thanks.

BLITZER: Larry, thanks very much for being part of this Celebration of Freedom.

We're going to take a quick break. But we have much more coverage of the events unfolding right now up at The Ellipse. Coming up in the next few minutes, Yolanda Adams will be performing. We'll hear from the vice president, Dick Cheney. We'll hear from the president himself, and later, a special, special treat for all of us, Patti Labelle. She'll be performing.

Much more coverage when we come back.


BLITZER: You're looking live at the U.S. Capitol. Tomorrow noon eastern the president will be sworn in for a second term of office at 12 noon exactly, 12 noon Eastern, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The president of the United States will be there.

Right now, he's cross town, not that far away, on The Ellipse at the Washington Mall for entertainment. That's continuing. You see the president and first lady, the vice president, his grandchild sitting on his lap.

Kenny Chesney, the country-western performer, is singing right now. Let's listen.


KENNY CHESNEY, MUSICIAN: I think we're all awfully proud of where we come from. Thank you for having us here, everybody.


BLITZER: Kenny Chesney performing "Back Where I Come From," the president and the first lady, among others, welcoming this continuing entertainment, the celebration here in Washington unfolding.

Let's bring in Barbara Kellerman. She's a presidential historian, joining us from Harvard University.

Barbara, thanks very much.


BLITZER: You're going to be with us not only today, but tomorrow all day as well to give us a little historic perspective.

Give us a little perspective right now, what's going through your mind.

KELLERMAN: Well, I think what's going through my mind is probably what's going through all our minds, which is the quintessential American tableau that this is.

Between the western singers, the Rockettes and so forth and so on, with the president's family in the backdrop, I think nothing could be more American. And it seems to get more quintessentially American with every passing inauguration, particularly the day before. This is, after all, the opening act for tomorrow.

BLITZER: And it certainly sets the tone to a certain degree, even though the weather has marred it, unfortunately, just a little bit. But everybody's going to get over that.

And as we heard from our Rob Marciano, our weatherman, that weather is going to get better tomorrow.

I think this is Andrea Bocelli speaking. And this is a real treat, for all of us to listen to the great tenor.



BLITZER: "Encanto" (ph), Andrea Bocelli performing a beautiful rendition of that as well.

What a voice, Judy. What a powerful voice.

WOODRUFF: What a voice, indeed, singing in Italian, for those of us who understand Italian.

Jeff, that's you.

GREENFIELD: Those of us -- I'll pass.

But it really makes Barbara's point, that you get this incredible tapestry of every conceivable kind of entertainment. I wanted to ask Barbara a question about the inaugural. This is a country born in revolt against the kind of high-born European style. I think Thomas Jefferson walked to his first inaugural, went back, ate lunch at his boarding house.

Has the inaugural gotten a little more toward the high end of celebration? Are Americans, do we take on a little more pomp and circumstance than our founding fathers might have thought appropriate?

KELLERMAN: You mean toward the royal is what you're really saying?

GREENFIELD: Thank you.

KELLERMAN: As we all know, this office, the office of the American presidency, is both a head of state and the head of government.

I think when Jimmy Carter did that famous walk in the cardigan, some Americans loved it and some other Americans felt this was maybe perhaps getting just a little bit too casual. So I think we're not yet at the point of dismay over this. I think we're prepared for it. I think what's more striking is the physical and therefore metaphorical separation of the president from the people, which has been alluded to before.

That's part of the deal now in the post-9/11 age. That's part of what I think we're feeling. But, no, I think Americans are perfectly content to have this day in general be akin to the pomp and circumstance that we have when we speak of the king and queen of Great Britain.

BLITZER: And Ryan Seacrest, the emcee for this event, Barbara, is introducing Yolanda Adams and the Eastern High School Choir from right here in the District of Columbia. They'll be performing "I Believe I Can Fly."

This will be a treat as well. So I suggest we listen.




BLITZER: Yolanda Adams and the Eastern High School Choir, "I Believe I Can Fly," performing here at this Celebration of Freedom on this day before the inauguration, the president and first lady, among others, looking on. This has been a cold day in Washington.

But the excitement, Judy and Jeff, Barbara, is certainly building as we anticipate what will happen tomorrow.

WOODRUFF: That's right.

But, Wolf, look at that. You don't get a much more spectacular backdrop than the White House itself,the south side of the White House. They've arranged the stage so that the performers have that behind them. They're putting up a screen right now, what we call a plasma screen in this business. We're told we're going to hear a little -- or see a little video from Ray Charles.

BLITZER: Ray Charles will be performing on this video "America the Beautiful," Jeff, as you well remember, he did so magnificently.

GREENFIELD: He performed, among other places, at the 1984 Republican Convention. The highlight for me of that convention was Ron -- at the very end, Ron and Nancy Reagan on stage with Ray Charles as he performed "America the Beautiful."

Ray Charles died this year. He is probably as admired and loved an American entertainer as you could have. And without being too commercial, the movie that celebrates his life was probably one of the spectacular movies of this year. There was -- "From Georgia On My Mind" to "America the Beautiful" to the more bluesy stuff, this guy was an American original for real.

BLITZER: All right, let's listen in as they introduce Ray Charles, Mary Haskell (ph) and the Eastern High School Choir.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sing along with us now.



BLITZER: The late and great Ray Charles on tape performing -- Mary Haskell (ph) performing live, accompanying Ray Charles.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll continue to cover the celebration on the Washington Mall. We're expecting to hear from the president and the vice president. And Patti LaBelle will be performing.

Much more coverage when we come back.


BLITZER: The vice president of the United States will be sworn in for a second term tomorrow as well. He's now speaking.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... performed every four years for more than two centuries.

You and I will be privileged to witness the moment as our president places his hand on the Bible and repeats the oath first taken by George Washington on April 30, 1789.

I count it the highest honor of my life to serve beside our 43rd president in this time of great consequence for our nation. Since 2001, America has lived with adversity and sometimes with sorrow, and often with uncertainty. Yet, we have refused to live in fear or be intimidated by the task before us.

And we have seen the best aspects of our character reflected in the man who leads our country. We know George W. Bush is a person of deep conviction and personal kindness. He speaks his mind. He keeps his word. He is a man of moral seriousness.


CHENEY: And he is unafraid of hard decisions and persistent in doing what is right.

Above all, he is unrelenting in his determination to protect the American people. And he has earned the gratitude of all of us.


CHENEY: Tomorrow, the president renews his great responsibilities.

On Inauguration Day and in all the days that follow, he will be assured of the confidence of the nation he serves and sustained by his wonderful wife and family and lifted up by the prayers of millions. He has made us proud.

And I am pleased to present him to you now. Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States.




BUSH: Thank you all for coming. Thanks for being out here in the cold.

You know what I was realizing, there is -- you know, no night is too cold to celebrate freedom.

(APPLAUSE) Mr. Vice President, thank you for your kind introduction. I thank you and Lynne for your fine service to the American people. Our nation has never had a finer vice president.


Sorry, Dad.


Our nation has never had a finer first lady than Laura.


Sorry, Mother.


I'm really proud that most of my family is with me tonight and will be there tomorrow. I'm really so happy my dad and mom are with us.


Appreciate the members of the Cabinet who are here, members of Congress, members of the armed forces.


How about the Apollo astronauts? I can't thank them enough for coming.

And I love our entertainers who are here. I want to thank our host, Ryan Seacrest.

Thanks for so much, Ryan. You're doing a fine job. Appreciate your being here.

I want to thank all the other entertainers who have come tonight. It means so much to Laura and me. And I hope it means a lot to you that they have taken time out of their busy schedules to entertain you and to kick off this inauguration.

Really, thank you all for coming. Many of you have traveled a long way. What you're doing is you're taking a part in a great tradition of hope and renewal in our nation's capital. And we are really glad that you are here.


Inauguration is a time of unity for our country. With the campaign behind us, Americans lift up our sights to the years ahead and to the great goals we will achieve for our country. I am eager and ready for the work ahead.


And I know that this office carries a duty to the entire nation. After all, we are one America. And every day that I am your president I will serve all Americans.


In these four years, we have moved forward as a people. We have faced challenges. We have faced them together. And we've taken up serious tasks at home as well as abroad.

We have grown in appreciation for our freedom. And we have grown in appreciation for the men and women who defend it.


At this very hour, more than a million of our fellow citizens are standing watch for America. We are grateful to them all.


And we are grateful to their families.

We pray for our troops. We pray for their families. And on this night, as we celebrate the blessing of liberty, America honors the spirit of service that keeps our nation strong and free.

Tomorrow, I will take an oath and deliver an inaugural address. You'll be pleased to hear I'm not going to deliver it twice.

But I will speak about freedom.

This is the cause that unites our country and gives hope to the world and will lead us to a future of peace. We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom, and America will always be faithful to that cause.

Thank you for coming.

May God bless you and may God continue to bless our great nation. Thank you all.

BLITZER: The President of the United States, the first lady. The president speaking briefly, the vice president, he'll be speaking a lot longer tomorrow.

We're going to leave it there.

These notes, programing notes, to our viewers: 7:00 pm Eastern, one hour from now, a special "Defending America" series, Anderson Cooper, Paula Zahn, 2 hours. They will be here in Washington reporting.

"LARRY KING LIVE" will follow it at 9:00 pm Eastern.

Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" more on defending America, a special from Washington as well.

Our inaugeral day coverage begins tomorrow morning, 7:00 am, "AMERICAN MORNING" from here in Washington.

At 10:00 am Eastern, we will be back here for all day coverage of the inaugeration, the parade and everything else.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. For Judy Woodruff, Jeff Greenfield, Barbara Kellerman, and all of us at CNN, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. "LOU DOBBS TONIGHTS" starts right now.


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