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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Live Coverage of the Obama Express; Possible Israel Ceasefire
Aired January 17, 2009 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Live pictures you're seeing from, that's Washington D.C., the Mall. That's right, Anderson. This is pretty empty right now, but on Tuesday it's going to be jam-packed over there.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It also really gives you just a sense of the size of this. You know, if you're not from Washington D.C., you don't spend a lot of time here, it's hard to sort of get your bearings of where exactly everything is.
You're looking at the west front of the Capitol which is where Barack Obama will be sworn in all of the way there in the back of the screen, and then behind the camera, what you can't see, is the Lincoln Memorial further on and all that entire area is available to be filled up which is a much larger area than -- I mean, often we see large events on the mall, but rarely do they stretch all the way -- there the camera is turning -- do they stretch all of the way to the Lincoln Memorial.
BLITZER: You see the Washington Monument over there and the Lincoln Memorial. You see the Washington Monument over there and the Lincoln Memorial all of the way to the end. It's going to be jam- packed on Tuesday.
But right now on this Saturday we're watching something very, very different. The Obama Express, it's continuing now, it left Philadelphia just a little while ago and it's about to slow down in Delaware at Claymont Station with -- before it stops in Wilmington, Delaware to pick up the vice president-elect and Mrs. Biden.
These are live pictures that you say see from Claymont Station. We're hoping that once that train slows down and Barack Obama has a chance to waves to some of the folks there, we'll be able to see him and them.
And these are pictures coming from the train, Anderson, right now. This is what presumably, the president-elect and Michelle Obama and everyone else aboard those 10 cars are seeing.
COOPER: This obviously from broadband so the image goes in and out, but that one vantage point from the train. And we're not sure exactly how long the slowdown is going to take, but we're going to bring it to you, as well, as the live event that will take place in Wilmington, probably within half an hour or so, that's the anticipated time of arrival and Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden will be speaking there. BLITZER: Roland Martin has been reflecting as has David Gergen, Soledad O'Brien, all of us on what is about to happen in the United States of America. You wanted to make a point, Roland, about David Gergen's reflections of growing up in the segregated South of North Carolina.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes and that is when you talked about the student sit-ins, they were launched by four seniors who simply said we're tired of the conditions. And you look at those students from North Carolina ANT and all those historically Black colleges. They didn't ask anybody for permission to do this, they chose to actually do it.
So, when you bring it in present day, in terms of what Obama's been talking about, when he used the word "we" 47 times, election night. That is, he is challenging this generation to stop waiting for somebody to hand you the baton, stop waiting for civil rights leaders to acknowledge you and say now it is time for you to lead. What he is saying is, you can do like those students did, you can so something to change the direction of this country by just stepping up and actually doing it.
And I've traveled around the country talking to students all of the time, they're always saying, but, you know, we're powerless. But what he is saying is, no, you're not powerless. I think it is amazing that when you look at what happened in North Carolina, those were community organizer, you have a community organizer who is president; he is calling on students and young folks in this country to say stop complaining and start working.
COOPER: Well, often when real change comes it is not that the powers that be that bring about that change, it is a new generation that brings about the change and whether it's African-Americans or gays and lesbians, right now, it's not the institutions who have been around for a long time, it's young people that are new to the process.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It's all based, though, on this theory that America has a promise that other nations do not necessarily have. I mean, we were built on this promise.
I was at an event where a couple of the folks from the Little Rock Nine were there and in talking to Ernie, and he said, you know, the reason I was sent to Little Rock Central High School, when I could have gone to the Black school and had no problems at all, but my parents made me go because they said America has a promise to us, we want to make that promise come alive.
This nation has something and we're going to help fulfill it and that, I think, is all of that we, we, we. The nation's promises not one guy, whether it's Martin Luther King or Barack Obama or Abraham Lincoln, it's the "we" recognizing that this nation has a very different history than others and we could do other things with where we end up.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: It's been striking to me as part of this inauguration that on Monday, the day before the inauguration, he's declared a day of service and he himself and Joe Biden will go out and serve, and it's part of a national service movement that he wants to be part of.
I was at the transition headquarters, yesterday, talking to people there about this whole idea of service and they have very firmly in mind how do they tap into the idealism of this younger generation now and enlist them on behalf of the nation in various causes whether it's working in public schools or working in hospitals or other things like that.
I think you're going to see that unfold, now. They're going to have an office in the White House called an Office of Social Innovation where a lot of this is going to take place. And they have very bold ideas coming out of the campaign.
This is, as Roland said, this is what's been fundamental to Barack Obama, is sort of the grassroots change and having to come up from the bottom and not just from the top and it does go back to this whole notion that you're talking about of the young kids.
MARTIN: We will air the full speech of Dr. King from August in '63, but I want people to listen to that because we play the "I have a Dream" portion, but the first two-thirds he talks about the economic gaps in this country. So, if you want to bring it present day, the haves and the have nots, that speech that we will play on Monday, can speak to where we are now between the rich and the poor.
COOPER: That's at 12:00?
MARTIN: It's gong to air at 12:00, Noon, the entire speech.
COOPER: What's so interesting about that, too, is that, you know, we all think we know that speech because we've seen little snippets of it. But, once you hear the entire thing, it is...
O'BRIEN: The thesis was called "The Negro has been Delivered a Bad Check," which doesn't have the same...
MARTIN: Insufficient funds.
O'BRIEN: It's not the same ring as the "I Have a Dream." The "I Have a Dream" portion, if you look back at the text was ad-libbed. He had given it before in sermons. It was made off the top of his head...
MARTIN: As Soledad's reporting, also in (INAUDIBLE) papers, was that it was called "Normalcy No More," and so you the actual title of that speech and bring it present day, we're saying normalcy no more, let's not have Americans...
BLITZER: You make a good point, and I want to -- I want all of you to elaborate. I just want to let our viewers know what they're seeing. These are live pictures coming in from Claymont Station in Delaware, not far from Wilmington. This is where the Obama Express, the train will slow down. They're calling it a slow roll, sort of sounds like something I did on the "Ellen Show" the other day, but we'll talk a little bit about that later. That was a move you had, Roland, when you were a young kid, the slow roll.
MARTIN: It was a little different, Wolf.
COOPER: Listen in to the sound of the train approaching the crowd. Let's listen.
COOPER: He clearly is on the train and in the lower right hand side of the screen you can see the view from the train. Candy, where is Barack Obama in this train?
Candy Crowley, if you can hear me onboard the train, where is Barack Obama on this train? Clearly, we're having some technical problems just trying to reach her.
BLITZER: There are 10 cars, she told us earlier, Anderson. So, we don't know if he's in the front, the rear or the middle. We don't know where he is and it doesn't look -- he's supposed to wave.
COOPER: I think the last car.
BLITZER: Maybe he's right here. Maybe we'll see him actually wave. That was the whole point to look as the train slows down. You'll see he's going to wave...
COOPER: There he is.
BLITZER: Yes, there he is.
All right, good, the President-elect of the United States waving to the crowd, there. They (INAUDIBLE) very, very excited as this train slows down, but continues on to Wilmington, the next stop, Wilmington, the train will actually stop and that's when they'll pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Mrs. Biden and they will speak. It's supposed to get there at 12:30 p.m. Eastern and then the speaking, the event, actually starts around 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m.
COOPER: And from there, of course, the train goes on to Baltimore where another speech will be given and then arrives here in Union Station around 7:00 -- 7:30 at night and we'll be covering it every little second of the way.
O'BRIEN: Every chilly second.
COOPER: Think it's cold now? Wait until the sun goes down, that's all I got to say.
MARTIN: ...listen to that train, my dad worked for Amtrak for almost 30 years and so, you also talk about the two daughters earlier. So, I can imagine what if feels like to be those little kids riding this train. They're saying, dad, it's -- dude, it's a train. What happened to the plane? You know, I'm sure they're thinking, we're old school with this train ride.
GERGEN: Well, that is old school. There hasn't been a president who's come to Washington on a train since Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, and there wasn't television around. He got started an hour late because he was still working on his inaugural address back in New York.
COOPER: Bill Clinton took a bus
GERGEN: He took a bus.
COOPER: From Monticello.
GERGEN: He and Al Gore to the bus. You know, when they were into that show, the buddy show.
O'BRIEN: Lincoln did the train ride, he did 12 days, I think, and 70 cities. I mean, that was really his...
COOPER: It was from Springfield, Illinois all the way...
O'BRIEN: And stopped in over 70 cities. The security, I mean, probably proportionally, just as tight there, many, many big concerns. Of course, he has modeled this train ride on Lincoln's train ride in 1861, but, of course, none of the live cameras in the broadband issues, certainly, pretty amazing to see all of this time later. Although, it was done in March.
GERGEN: It used to be, of course, candidates would campaign from the backs of trains, it was the whistle stop campaigns. Harry Truman had, it was famous, he went across the country, you know, and they would speak from the backs of trains, And it was so nice to see Obama there waving out of the back.
COOPER: Yes, it wasn't until 1933, I believe, that the 20th amendment to the constitution was ratified which changed the date of inaugural to January 20, previously it had been in March.
Candy Crowley is aboard the train, I think we have her on the phone.
Candy, can you hear us? Is the president-elect in the last car? I mean, we saw him there waving in the crowd in the last car. Is that where he's staying, or is he moving around?
VOICE OF CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far he hasn't moved around, as far as we know, certainly, simply because we're -- it's about 10 cars and two engines and we're, I think, about six cars from him, so he does have visitors with him, which they think he'll go back and visit them.
We are now about -- as you saw the slow roll, we're seven minutes or so from Wilmington, where obviously, he will pick up the Biden's. So, along the way, on both sides, I'll tell you, one place I am seeing the Coast Guard on the Delaware River. I think that's not the sight you can see, but there are boats all of the way along the Delaware River as we pass by.
On the other side, as we were traveling, we saw cars pulling off to take the picture. This is 95, I think, going, obviously, south to north. And so, it's been, sort of spermatic. Obviously, they knew in Claymont, Delaware, that he was going to slow down there, so we saw much larger crowds. But, you still see sort of random people who come out on the porches of their home and there may be, you know, a couple of football fields away.
We now are sort of going past a mobile home area where people have come out just to see him. I mean this, is their part of history. They're not headed down in Washington, the story they, of course, will tell their children and grandchildren is I saw his train go by. I saw him on his way to Washington.
So, you know, it's like rolling history. You know, lots going on the train. We'd love to obviously have him come back and talk, so we will certainly see, probably doubtful. But this is, you know, again, a kind of roll into the future while saluting the past.
This is one of those things that they know in the Obama transition will be something that will capture people's attention to see these pictures and to see him at the back of a train when he comes out to wave, and they know that that keeps the excitement rolling. What they want to do is take what they saw across the campaign trail and reinvent it to become this force that move Congress and then also do things in a smaller level in neighborhoods and cities. So, again, it's a rolling forward kind of through the past as we head down to Washington -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Candy and Anderson, we're only a couple or three minutes away from this train actually arriving at Wilmington station where they're going to pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden. We'll take a quick break. We'll continue our coverage of the Obama Express and this historical lead-up to the inauguration of the president, right after this.
COOPER: And that is the scene in Wilmington, Delaware, where any moment now we are expecting what they're calling the Obama Express, to arrive. A large crowd has gathered. They've been arriving there since early this morning. That's the scene from inside the train looking out the window. We just heard from Candy Crowley a little bit -- a few seconds ago talking about people all along this route of the train standing on their back porches, coming out as the train passes by wanting to catch their glimpse of the beginning of this historic inauguration celebration.
BLITZER: And if they're doing it I hope they're dressed warmly because it's chilly out there. I'm sure in Delaware, as well as right here in Washington, D.C., if you're getting ready to come to Washington, D.C., I want to urge you, come on down, but make sure you have some warm clothes.
MARTIN: Also on the mall, understand, unlike all of you music fans who take their lawn chairs out and stuff like that, you can't take that stuff out there, so you're going to be standing the entire time. I think they said earlier, no strollers, no lawn chairs, no umbrellas. And so, absolutely layer and rest those legs tonight and tomorrow...
COOPER: There's going to be more than 20 Jumbotrons positioned all along the mall for people. Obviously, you're not getting an up- close view, perhaps, of the swearing in, but there is value, and I think there is emotion just in being here.
And, you know, in these large public events, even if you can't see the individuals, there is -- you know, you meet your neighbors and you meet complete strangers and friendships are formed and there is this remarkable sense of community which you can already feel.
I took the plane down this morning and there was this excitement, people taking photographs with one another and asking to pose with people for pictures because everyone wanted to document their day, the beginning of their journey to Washington.
MARTIN: It's a shared moment. And I think back to 1995, the Million Man March coming on the mall the day before and people you had never met in your life, people sitting there hugging each other, talking to one another because it is a shared experience and the next day, same thing. I mean, people, all of a sudden, you're telling your life story to the people sitting next to you because there's in this opportunity and so I wouldn't be surprised just to see the amazing conversations and friendships that developed after this.
COOPER: I'm sorry. This is the day where there is news to talk about and breaking news, in particular. Nic Robertson is standing by in Jerusalem with word of a possible deal on the situation in Gaza.
Nic, what are you hearing?
Nic Robertson, if you can hear me, what are you hearing about a possible cease-fire?
VOICE OF NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we're hearing here is that there is going to be a cabinet session to discuss the latest issues. The prime minister, we're expecting, to put to the cabinet a cease-fire proposal. We're expecting the prime minister if he gets got-ahead from the cabinet to, after that, to announce this cease-fire. We don't know what the terms of this cease-fire will be, but from what we understand at the moment and in all likelihood the cease-fire will probably be a unilateral cease-fire from the Israeli position. And I suspect what we'll very likely hear from the prime minister is that the Israeli government feels that it has achieved a lot of its objectives, its military objectives on the ground as well as its sort of international and diplomatic objectives.
Very likely, the prime minister will very likely say that they believe that Hamas has been dealt a very, very significant military blow, that its military machine is substantially destroyed, but they will believe that Hamas is very unlikely to restart the fighting, that Hamas will think twice, very seriously twice about firing rockets again and that Israel feels that with Egypt, with the United States and with its international partners, that it has -- that it has the support to stop Hamas being re-equipped -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, that's Nic Robertson with the breaking news.
Anderson, you were just there not too long ago. If, in fact, the Israelis go forward with what Nic is describing potentially as a unilateral cease-fire that would be a significant event because in the past they said they want a very significant cease-fire where they get the commitment from Hamas that it would no longer launch rockets and missiles...
COOPER: At one point they said if there was just one rocket being fired that was too many. There may be -- there was an agreement between the United States and Israel or movement toward an agreement on trying to close down all the tunnels and prevent future tunnels being built through Egypt, which is how the rockets are being smuggled into Gaza. So, that may have given the Israeli government the ability to kind of move forward with this deal.
BLITZER: And as we wait for this train to arrive in Wilmington, David Gergen is here.
You know, there was always a sense that some of the pundits in Israel had that the Israelis have a window between the exit of the Bush administration and the arrival of the Obama administration to try to do some damage to Hamas, and it looks like, potentially, they did do some significant damage at a huge cost, obviously, as we all know, but if it's over where right now, if there's a unilateral cease-fire, that would be a unique gift for the incoming Obama administration.
GERGEN: It would be a welcome gift. It doesn't have the symbolism, of course, of the day that Reagan took office and there was a freeing of American hostages in Iran. That was an enormous gift.
With this, it's important, it's another step toward making this a better inaugural weekend, but because it's unilateral and because it's not an agreed upon cease-fire, so that you don't have Hamas agreeing to it, you wonder how long it will last, or whether the Israelis -- there's a very strong sense that the Israelis have done a lot of damage, they've destroyed a lot of the tunnels, but, you know, there were still rockets being fired on Israel a now days ago. And whether they can hold or not, or whether they feel they have to do this for appearance purposes, because they've done a lot of damage, but they've also hurt their own reputations internationally with the media coverage. You know, maybe this is a tactical move as opposed to a long-term strategic move.
COOPER: They'd also reached a battle in Gaza where they've either had to move in a bigger way into the cities and thereby escalate the conflict and cause even more civilian damage or they're largely in positions encircling Gaza City and encircling large population centers and to actually then have to take it to the next level and move into the urban centers, unleashes a level of violence which we, as bad as it's been, would have been even worse.
GERGEN: It would have been dramatically difficult for them, don't you think? It would have been horrific...
COOPER: I mean, incredibly difficult. We all saw the battle...
BLITZER: All right, here is the train arriving in Wilmington, Delaware, Wilmington Station. These are live pictures you're seeing, here. The Obama Express, 10 cars in total, bringing the president- elect and the future first lady of the United States, their family, some close friends and other everyday Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Candy Crowley.
BLITZER: Candy Crowley and some 90 other members of the news media, there onboard, as well. This train is going to be stopping near, but not exactly at the station where eventually we will not only be seeing from President-elect Obama, we'll be hearing from him and we'll be hearing from Vice President-elect Joe Biden. They'll both be speaking.
That's coming up and they'll be introduced by one of the invited guests aboard their train, what they're calling everyday Americans who are there. And these are the live pictures, Anderson, that we're showing viewers from aboard the train and also from outside of the train.
COOPER: And because we know Soledad O'Brien's kids only care about Sasha and Malia Obama, we understand they're on the train...
O'BRIEN: They're small children, Anderson.
Yes, understandably. Believe me, kids around the country are fascinated, they are on the train, as well. So, we'll probably get a glimpse of them as President-elect Obama makes his speech.
BLITZER: And this will be the second speech by the president- elect. We heard earlier, he only spoke for 10 or 12 minutes or so in Philadelphia as they were getting ready to board the Obama Express. Once they finish here in Wilmington around 2:00 p.m. Eastern, next stop Baltimore, where there will be a third and what we believe will be the final speech of the day. Interestingly enough, he's not scheduled to speak at Union Station in Washington, D.C. around 7:00 p.m. Eastern, once the train stops there. That's not scheduled, but you never know what's going to happen as we'll watch and wait and listen.
COOPER: This is the rear of the train car that you're looking and the we saw President-elect Obama standing on the platform in the rear of the car waving to people just a few minutes ago. So, we're anticipating this is where he will emerge from.
BLITZER: They're about five minutes...
BLITZER: They're about five minutes ahead of schedule, too. They're supposed to arrive around 12:30. It's around 12:45 or so, p.m. Eastern, right now. So, they're pretty much on schedule.
MARTIN: Wow, what's a Democratic president doing early?
GERGEN: They got Joe Biden to speak...
O'BRIEN: What a challenge for the Secret Service. I mean, look at this, you can hear people sort of saying, don't get on this train, don't get on this train. But, the folks who are both security on the train and then of course those who are lining the tracks, that has got to be really difficult and just a huge challenge to have to figure out how to manage it, since, as you pointed out, David, this isn't done. It's not like they have a road map, or here's how you do it. It's a real challenge.
COOPER: It is an unprecedented journey in the level of security that we are seeing, some 40 different law enforcement agencies have been deployed all along this route. As Tom Foreman pointed out, a couple of hours ago, there's really this sort of zone of protection, this bubble of security which is traveling with the train. We've seen Coast Guard personnel on the water, we've seen obviously, there's personnel in the air, as well as Secret Service vehicles following this train on the roads, on both sides of the train as it moves.
BLITZER: As we watch what happens and we await the start of the remarks from the president-elect and the vice president-elect, let's not lose sight of the fact that this is happening at a time, not only of historic importance, but also at a time of severe economic recession, here in the United States with a lot of fears, as we all know, of potentially a depression.
That's one of the reasons why in the past few days the president- elect working with the outgoing president, convinced the Senate to go ahead and authorize the second installment, that $350 billion designed to try to try to help deal with the financial crisis and help some of those troubled banks.
O'BRIEN: And Joe Biden, who really pointed that out when he started underscoring during the campaign, his conversations that he would hear on the train ride as he headed in to Washington, D.C. from Wilmington, Delaware, what people would say their real down home concerns about how they're going to feed their family and how are they going to pay their mortgage and are they going to keep their job, not just sot of the Wall Street take, which is bad right now.
GERGEN: You know, to me it's totally interesting that it's almost as if he's been president now for the last two week, the last three weeks and he's taking time off to have his inauguration and then go back to work.
COOPER: Have we ever seen a president-elect who has had to assume so much power and responsibility before actually checking in?
GERGEN: No. We talked about the depression and during the depression Franklin Roosevelt intentionally stayed out of it. You know, Hoover kept trying to get him to act like a president, get him to sign on to things and he refused to do this. Barack Obama has gone just the other way.
BLITZER: I think the same thing happened in the transition from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. And David, you remember that, well. There was a hostage crisis, 444 days of Americans held hostage in Iran, but during that transition, correct me if I'm wrong, Jimmy Carter was in charge, Ronald Reagan didn't step on him.
GERGEN: Absolutely. One president at a time. He stayed away from him. And with Obama he's been president on domestic affairs and on Tuesday at Noon he'll be responsible for Gaza.
O'BRIEN: Obama's talked about, early on in his first speech, he said only one president at a time, that was literally what he had been saying, but at the same time you the see over the weeks that would follow op-ed, do more, say more, come out strongly, where are you, we don't see you. Here's the guy..
BLITZER: Well, one of the reasons why on the domestic economic crisis Obama did step forward is because, in effect, the outgoing president, George W. Bush at that exit farewell news conference he gave earlier in the week, he said well, I'm waiting to hear from the president-elect, if he wants me to ask for the second $350 billion, the so-called TARP money to help bail out the financial institutions, I'll do it, but I want to hear from him. That was an extraordinary moment -- Anderson.
COOPER: And it was just minutes later, from what we understand, that Barack Obama in fact, called President Bush and said all right...
BLITZER: Let's work together.
GERGEN: To this very day, I can guarantee you we're here with this train ride, coving this train ride, over at the transition headquarters, they're very busy working on executive orders, potential legislation. They've got a whole team over there trying to figure out where do we go from here on the economy MARTIN: I guess all of the talk during the campaign, who will be ready on day-one? Obama's made clear that I was ready before day-one, and they are sending a signal to, not only the lawmakers, that we are serious about this, but even this train ride, as we mentioned earlier, yesterday in Ohio, as well, he's making it clear to members of Congress that I am going to use this bully pulpit and I'm going to speak directly to Americans, I am going to enlist this army to put pressure on you to move the economy forward.
I think this Congress should be very leery of this president, of crossing this president, knowing full well the kind of numbers he has right now and the support he has with the American people, because he's going to use it.
O'BRIEN: But, isn't the concern, if you look at those very same poll numbers that give the incoming president a high approval rating, they give the handing out of the TARP funds incredibly low number and in fact they also give fellow members of Congress incredibly low numbers, sort of hate lawmakers, love the new guy. And how long can that kind of thing last?
I think that John King just described it last night as sort of two trains running at each other maybe on the same track and that's a real problem because you can't see the incredibly popular person continually foisting the incredibly unpopular ideas.
MARTIN: That's why he has to deliver. That's why the small successes, it's all about coming out and saying another success, another success, because what we're also facing in this country is a crisis of confidence. People simply are not confident about anything.
And so, if he is able to get people to believe that we are making some progress, people do begin to feel better, begin to sense things are changing. You see it reflected in Wall Street. You see it reflected in term of consumer confidence.
O'BRIEN: That's being the main player, but you know, let me list for you the jobs that were lost ...
MARTIN: Right, right.
O'BRIEN: ...and just being announced, so it's got to be more than the field that things are getting better, but ...
MARTIN: Look -- but business owners don't make the move to hire new people if they're not confident that things will turn around in a few months.
GERGEN: It'll be interesting to wait and see now what he has to say in Wilmington because he did talk about this in Philadelphia and now, we keep talking about it.
COOPER: And to a point you made earlier, David Gergen, is that we are in uncharted waters. No one alive has been through this before, and one of the things that's interesting, I think, about the next several days is that the next several days are sort of rich in tradition and we're such a young democracy, we're a country which was built on rejecting the traditions of Europe.
And so, the few traditions that we do have, we will see play out over the next several days and it's in those traditions that we sort of verify the strength of our democracy and remind us that there is a tradition in this past, that we do have -- that we have been through these days before, although certainly nothing like this.
GERGEN: Yes. These few days are very important, at least the ritual that's associated with this is very important for re-affirming our sense of who we are and our traditions. And as he went to Philadelphia and started today and talked there, there were echoes of Lincoln in that and there were in his speech, and he talked about the family. He talked about the Constitution.
And it seems to me this train ride has a lot of that symbolism tied into it as he's wrapped himself in Lincoln so much and now picking up as vice president, but what he says along the way and what we'll hear from him in Wilmington, you know, is a prelude to what we're going to be hearing on Tuesday and what's coming and the days after.
O'BRIEN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, you heard him set the stage when he gave that kick-off speech. He talked about health care, he sort of talked about medical care, affordable health care, he talked about the war in Iraq, which was then punctuated by people stopping and cheering and he had to take a break for a moment.
So, yes, I think he's laying out an ambitious agenda while also going back to those themes that he has continued to ride (ph).
BLITZER: All right, there's president -- vice president-elect ...
COOPER: Vice President-elect Biden knocking on the train door.
O'BRIEN: Let me in.
BLITZER: And the blonde woman is Jill Biden ...
JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Let me in!
BLITZER: ...the vice president-elect's wife. I guess this is all very carefully choreographed. This is the back of the plane -- the train over there and Vice President-elect Biden going. He did not take the journey from Philadelphia to Wilmington, he's about to board. Wilmington is where he lives and he and Joe Biden will be getting aboard this train to make the continuing trek to Baltimore and then on to Washington, D.C.
So, I guess momentarily the vice president will see the president-elect and they'll have their opportunity for a little photo opportunity and then at some point, both of them will be speaking to the crowd that has gathered in Wilmington, Delaware, the home state of the next vice president of the United States.
COOPER: Yes, we saw the press pool being kind of shepherded to the location that you're now seeing these pictures from. Clearly, this is a moment which has been staged and which has been thought out. Joe Biden knocking on the door seeing who was in his car and apparently was told to stay out or decided to stay here for ...
BLITZER: Next time (ph), be patient, he's on his way. You know, when you see these pictures, David Gergen, of Joe Biden who's been in the Senate I think for ...
COOPER: There we go.
BLITZER: All right, there's Michelle Obama. Let's see if we can hear what they say.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's cold.
BIDEN: It is cold. It is cold.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy birthday!
BLITZER: We didn't hear much, Anderson. Well, we did hear him say something very profound, it's cold. I think the president-elect said that. All right, so they're going walk and they're going to a staging area where they will be making their remarks. We expect that to be taking place in ...
COOPER: Right, on the left side of your screen ...
BLITZER: ...25 -- 20, 25 minutes.
COOPER: Left side of your screen, you see it now on the full screen, you see all the people who have gathered, listening to some performers trying to warm up the crowd.
BLITZER: On a cold, chilly day in Wilmington, Delaware. There's -- we were saying when we look at Joe Biden, David Gergen, and you know, I say he's been in the Senate for a long, long time and he came in under rather personal tragic circumstances, following the death of his first wife and ...
BLITZER: ...it's a heartbreaking story when you think about it. But, you know what? He's going to be the vice president of the United States.
GERGEN: Oh, yes. And I -- you know, when you first look at Joe Biden, you think he would have liked to have started this train ride in Wilmington, Delaware and made it on his own, but even so, those thoughts pass quickly, and I think what we see him now is a man who is enormously grateful for the life he's had. You know, starting out in Scranton, Pennsylvania, coming this far.
COOPER: Do we know the role that Joe Biden will play as vice president? I mean, Dick Cheney certainly re-defined the role of vice president. Where does Joe Biden stand?
GERGEN: I might have to question Hillary Clinton is asking, too.
COOPER: And Joe Biden is asking, I'm sure, too.
GERGEN: He just went off on that foreign trip, which was interesting. He took the first foreign trip ...
BLITZER: I think it's fair to say, David, it's a work in progress.
GERGEN: It's a work in progress.
BLITZER: And we'll see what happens. All right, we're getting ready to ...
MARTIN: Obama's relying on him for advice on many things.
BLITZER: Yes, he's relying on him for a lot, I'm sure.
All right, we'll take a quick break. We'll stand by to hear from the president-elect, the vice president-elect. These are live pictures from Wilmington, Delaware. The Obama Express has made a stop there and we'll continue our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: All right, the train has now made its stop in Wilmington, Delaware. It started in Philadelphia. It is now in Wilmington. That's where Joe Biden, Mrs. Biden have now teamed up with Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. They're getting ready to speak to this crowd that has assembled at Wilmington, Delaware. We'll be hearing from the president-elect, the vice president-elect momentarily.
Later, they'll be continuing on to Baltimore where they will make yet another stop, more speeches. And finally, they'll all wind up here in Washington, D.C., at Union Station not far away from where we are.
Anderson Cooper, let's set the scene, tell our viewers where we are. We're on top of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, not far from Capitol Hill.
COOPER: That's right. Just right over the shoulder, you can see the west side of the Capitol which is already pretty much all set up for the swearing in ceremony. Throughout the last couple of hours, we've been hearing bands performing. We heard them playing "Hail to the Chief," rehearsing just to make sure everything goes right on Tuesday.
And it's interesting. I've been getting e-mails from a lot of viewers and you can e-mail us at CNN.com. Also, send us any iReport pictures you're taking -- any photos you're taking of the train as it passes you by, send it to ireport@CNN.com. Also, Candy Crowley is blogging onboard the train. You can check that out at CNN.com if you want to hear her perspective.
But I think ...
BLITZER: In general, it's a good idea to watch us and have a laptop at the same time.
COOPER: Why not, why not?
BLITZER: And then, you can get a whole lot of additional information.
COOPER: But I'm getting e-mails from viewers along the way, and it's easy to sort of be blase about what we're seeing today, this train moving past. But for so many people, for so many Americans who are along the train route, but also watching at home, this is an extraordinarily moving moment.
I just got an e-mail from a woman named Shirley (ph) who grew up in North Carolina, was responding to some of the things David said. And she just said, "I just watched people waving at Obama in the slow down in Delaware. I cried tears of joy and sadness, wishing my mother, who'd be 108 today and her dear friend Nanny Downey (ph) could be here to see this."
Just one person's reflections on seeing that train.
BLITZER: Yes, so many people I've spoken to and not just black people, but so many people have said you know, I'm just thrilled to see it, to be able to reach this moment in American history, but you know what? I wish my mom and my dad or my grandparents, my uncles, my aunts, they could have seen this moment as well.
And it looks like they're getting ready for the next major event here. The vice president-elect and the president-elect will be speaking to this crowd in Wilmington, Delaware -- Roland Martin.
MARTIN: Being here at the Newseum, I think about John Seigenthaler, long time executive for the Gannett newspaper who went down south working as a -- an aid for Robert Kennedy, Justice Department who was beaten trying to help folks, those freedom writers and so, what he thinks on this day.
BLITZER: All right, so they're speaking now. I think we want to listen in to what some of the preliminary remarks are and then, if it's not that interesting, we'll start talking.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...always take care of Senator Biden. He's a good guy. He's a good guy because he knows the American working family is our greatest asset. I see how he respects everyone. Everyone he meets during his daily commute, laptop to lunch cans, blue jeans to custom-fit suits, he knows we're all in this together.
He knows us because he listens to us, that's why he fights for our dignity, fair wages so we can provide for our families. I've been fortunate to have a job all my life, long hours and perseverance enable me to provide for my family. My wife worked and raised three beautiful children. Children who went to college, they now have good jobs.
Joe Biden is a family man, and we often talked about our families. Ask him about his wife or grandchildren, you'll see the kindest smile you've ever seen. He often had to sprint up the stairs here at Wilmington Station to catch his train after dropping his kids off to school. Sometimes, he even let them skip school and he did confide in me that Jill wasn't going to be too happy with that.
Joe, don't worry about missing this train. It's waiting for you to take you to your inauguration as vice president of the United States of America!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you'll always fight for the right thing. I know you'll always be fighting for us and now, it's my honor to introduce Amtrak's No. 1 commuter, Vice President-elect Joe Biden!
BIDEN: Thank you, Greg. Now, what he didn't tell you, occasionally he'd be standing outside the door as the Ascella (ph) came up, I'd be coming down Martin Luther King Boulevard, I'd call in here to Ron, and say Ron, I can see the light. I'm only two away. What do you think? And he said, I'll check with Greg. There was always some mechanical difficulty that lasted for a minute or two. I have to admit that now, but thank you.
Look, Greg, you've been a friend for a long time. Look, folks, one of the things I want you to understand, I know you Delawareans know, you know me and you know Jill. This guy has become a close friend like an awful lot of the people for 36 years I've commuted with. We know each other's children, he knows my Hunt, my Beau, my Ashley who is with me here today. I know his Blake who's now a conductor on Amtrak, we know each other's grandkids and ladies and gentlemen, I just want to tell you it's a real honor to be introduced by you, buddy. Thank you very, very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BIDEN: Jilly, come here.
Now, Jill's greatest worry is I'm going to be home every morning. She had some great deal of solace knowing I was going to leave at 7:00 and head for the train. She didn't have to worry about me until 10:00 or 8:00 depending on the time, but now we got public housing in Washington. But we're coming home.
Ladies and gentlemen, Jill and I are honored, honored to be here with you. And you know, it's a great thing about my love affair with Amtrak. It's how truly close and personal the friends I've made over the years have become. They come to our homes in the summer and used to be before it got too big, a crowd would have a Christmas party and again, Greg, thanks for taking care of me all of these years.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's not every day you get to do your daily commute with the next president of the United States of America.
BIDEN: We're gathered here today to stop along a short journey from Philadelphia to Wilmington, and at the beginning of another longer journey for our country. Delaware, I'd not be taking this journey were it not for you.
BIDEN: I know you're always kidding me, Delaware is always kidding me for quoting Irish poets and Irish authors, but I'm about to do it again. James Joyce once wrote, he said, "When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart." Well, when I die, Delaware will be written in mine.
BIDEN: As we gather here today and the weather is cold and a deeper chill of fear and worry and concern have gripped the nation, how could it be otherwise? Millions of Americans have been knocked down. Our economy is struggling, we're a nation at war. Sometimes, just sometimes, it's hard to believe that we'll see the spring again, but I tell you, spring is on the way with this new administration.
BIDEN: When I look into your eyes, so many of you, my friends I've known for so long, I see the faith and hope of an indomitable people, a spirit that's guided this nation through our toughest moments. That spirit is still alive here today, it's alive in our parents and our grandparents and it was alive in their parents and their grandparents before them. The American people have never, never, never ever let their country down.
BIDEN: And President-elect Obama and I will need more than your prayers and your good wishes. We'll need your hard work to help us. For ours to be a successful journey, it must be -- it must be a shared journey. As I look at you, I see another thing. I see the trust you've placed in us. It's a trust that we must and we will honor.
Ladies and gentlemen, we can and we will restore the middle class.
BIDEN: Ladies and gentlemen, we can and we will regain the respect we deserve in the world.
BIDEN: And we can and we will change this nation.
BIDEN: I promise you we will not let you down. We have promises to keep, promises to our children and our grandchildren, promises to one another and, quite frankly, promises to the world.
Folks, this is more than an ordinary train ride, this is a new beginning in our most difficult nation. The most difficult moments our nation has always chosen a leader that times demand, and I believe that's why this nation has turned to Barack Obama.
BIDEN: It's turned to Barack to bring hope back to the nation, and the change we so desperately need. My fellow Delawareans, the next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama!
BIDEN: And Michelle Obama!
CROWD (chanting): Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Hello, Delaware!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Joe.
CROWD (singing): Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!
OBAMA: It's Michelle's birthday today.
CROWD (singing): Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!
OBAMA: You're the birthday girl. Well, thank you. Thank you so much, Wilmington. Thank you, Joe Biden for that welcome. Thank you, Jill Biden for putting up with Joe Biden all these years, and thank you, Wilmington for giving us such a great send-off. Thank you, everybody.
OBAMA: To the governor and the governor-elect of this state, to Wilmington Mayor James Baker, to Senator Carper, newly-elected Senator Ted Kaufman, to the man who delivered Joe Biden for so many years to not just to Washington, but more importantly, got him back home. You know, it was just under five months ago that Joe Biden stood beside me on the steps of the old state Capitol in Springfield to accept my invitation to run for vice president of the United States of America.
OBAMA: I chose Joe because I knew where he came from, even if I hadn't spent much time here because you can learn a lot about a person's hometown through the deeds that they've done. Joe has always fought for the middle class while forging the consensus to get things done. He has supported the cops and the firefighters and the families who form the backbone of our communities while emerging as a statesman in the community of nations.
For 36 years, Delaware has sent Joe Biden to change Washington and Washington hasn't changed him. Joe Biden has changed Washington.
OBAMA: The people of Delaware know this better than anyone because Joe is still the scrappy kid from Scranton whose family moved here to Wilmington in search of a new beginning. They knew their share of hardships. They knew more would come. They didn't have much money, but Joe Senior taught his son about the values that stretched longer than a dollar, the dignity of a hard day's work, the privacy of family, the dream that anyone should be able to make it if they try and the simple lesson that when we Americans get knocked down, we always, always get back up on our feet.
OBAMA: Those are the values that the American people hold in common. They're shared by Irish Catholics from Wilmington and African-Americans from the south side of Chicago, by Hispanics and Asians and Native Americans all across this great land. They form a foundation for our success and they lift us up when we face adversity.
Those are the values that Joe carried with him to the Senate. You sent him there when he was just 30, and that's when tragedy struck. Suddenly, this man who had a limitless future before him had lost more than most of us could imagine and that's when Joe Biden got back up on his feet. He didn't move away from Delaware.
Instead, day after day, month after month, year after year, he came here to this station and boarded the train to our nation's capital and then night after night, month after month, year after year, he rode that train back home in the evenings to raise his boys and a beautiful family alongside his beautiful wife Jill.
He would be ...
OBAMA: He would be the first to tell you that he didn't do it alone. He had the people of this city and this state with him every step of the way. Now, Delaware, I'm asking Joe Biden to take one more ride to Washington.
OBAMA: Together, we know that there's work to be done. Together, we know that America faces its own crossroads, a nation at war, an economy in turmoil, an American dream that feels like it's slipping away. Together, we know that the American people are facing adversity and that the time has come to pick ourselves up once again.
We've heard -- we've heard your stories on the campaign trail. We have been touched by your dreams, and we will fight for you every single day that we're in Washington because Joe and I are committed to leading a government that is accountable, not just to the wealthy or to the well connected, but to you.
OBAMA: To the conductors who make our trains run and to the workers who lay down the rails, to the parents who worry about how they're going to pay the bills next month on the commute to work, and to the children who hear the whistle of the train and dream of a better life, that's who we're fighting for. That's who needs change, and those are the stories that we will carry with us to Washington.
We'll carry with us the story of Mike and Cheryl Fisher (ph). Mike's a longtime machinist whose work faces the prospect of layoffs. Cheryl works as a nurse's assistant and waits for a grandchild who's on the way. Together, they seek only to live and work and retire in the same Indiana hometown where they raised their children. We will carry their story with us down to Washington.
We'll carry with us the story of Roy Gross (ph), a truck driver from Michigan who moves cars from the plants of the showroom. Roy's wife and his friends have lost jobs while the plants have shuttered their doors. He wants to see American industry build the cars of tomorrow, and jobs that let working people leave their children a better life. We will carry his story with us to Washington.
We'll carry with us the story of Quincy Lucas (ph), a teacher from Dover, Delaware.
OBAMA: Now, Quincy lost her sister in a terrible act of domestic violence and dedicated herself to ensuring that other families don't have to suffer like hers. She works with young people to stand up to violence and is helping to build a safer and more secure community.
Those are the quiet heroes who've made this country great. You can find them in every city and every town in all 50 states. They work hard. They look after their families, they sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren. They are you and they deserve and you deserve a government that represents the same enduring values that you live out in your own lives. That's why Joe Biden has gone to Washington.
OBAMA: Yours are the stories that will drive us in the days ahead. This is the moment that we have to come together for the sake of our country. For while we come from many different places, as Americans, we share a common story.
That story began over two centuries ago in Philadelphia where we started today's journey and where our forefathers declared the birth of our nation and the creation of our Constitution. It was here in Delaware that the Constitution was first ratified.
OBAMA: It was here in Delaware where the first state joined our union. It's up (ph) to us to carry forward that American story to make it our own. Now, it falls to us to ensure that everyone in this country can make it if they try. Now, it falls to us to pick ourselves up to reach for the promise of a better day and to work hard every single day together to perfect our union once more.
Thank you very much, Wilmington. Pray for us. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.