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Following the Obama Express

Aired January 17, 2009 - 15:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: They're trying to warm up. They're at city hall in Baltimore, where the president-elect, the vice president- elect will be speaking at the War Memorial Plaza. But it's a chilly day in Baltimore. Probably the same temperature roughly what it is here in Washington, D.C. and so this is a good way for them to be doing their own slow roll, if you see what I mean. They're trying to stay warm in Baltimore, which is not easy.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There's a musical performance, it seems. And definitely the crowd is into it. Even if they weren't that into music, they would be dancing to the music anyway to stay warm.

BLITZER: Shaking up a little bit because it's chilly. But it's a testament.

COOPER: Oh, here we go. It's like an aerobic zing class.

BLITZER: Anderson, what do you think? Get up there --

COOPER: That's not going to happen either.

BLITZER: But it's a good way to stay warm. That's where they'll be speaking in Baltimore outside the steps of city hall at War Memorial Plaza.

COOPER: Let's talk to Joe Johns, who is in Edgemont. Joe, have you talked to people in the crowd? Do you have anyone with you? Just why was it so important for people to come out today? What are you hearing?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was obviously a lot of excitement. I'll take off this hat, Anderson. Tremendous excitement out here and some sense from people that from around here, if you wanted to get one inaugural event in, you were 60 some miles from Washington, D.C., hey, let's come out and see Barack Obama, because this will be it.

I talked to a couple of people in the crowd who told me, quite frankly, they'd given some real serious consideration to going down on Tuesday to Washington, D.C., and participating in the events, then they heard all the talk about how crazy it was going to be, millions of people on the mall, an almost frightening situation for folks from a small town and decided, no, if I can get a look at him right here, that's good enough for me.

And that's what some people are doing out here, as far as I can see. There are some others who say they're taking the full ball of wax. They're going into town. They're going to stay with it to the bitter end and that's the choices we make in America around political season.

Back to you.

BLITZER: Hey, Joe, I don't know if you have a little microphone there, if you could grab a few folks. Anderson and I -- I'm sure our viewers around the United States would love to hear what some of these folks are saying and thinking about why they showed up and how they feel now that they've at least had a glimpse of the vice president-elect and president-elect.

COOPER: I think he's working on getting a mike.

BLITZER: Joe Johns is a talented young man. I bet he can do that.

COOPER: He has a future in TV.

BLITZER: When he's ready we'll go back and hear from people in Edgewood what they have to say.

COOPER: We will indeed. As we were saying, David, this is really an event which is being watched around the world. And I think Wolf's question before was, does it necessarily change the way people view the United States?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: It changes the way they -- their sense of potential for the United States. It renews a sense of what the United States can be. But they're going to be looking for the follow-up. They're going to be, OK, we hear the music. Now what's really going to happen? And, you know, that's why, for something like Gaza, it's going to be so complex for him, because the Arab world is going to be looking for a different signal. He has a big commitment to Israel.

COOPER: It's already been interesting just to hear representatives of al Qaeda over the last two weeks or so trying to respond, Bin Laden issuing a challenge to Barack Obama, Zawahiri as well, everyone is responding one way or the other.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Because I think even they understand the potential impact of his presence. Look, two-thirds of the world are people of color. Don't think people don't see that. When you see if Obama meets with folks in Syria or Egypt or other countries, he's going to look just like the folks he's meeting with. That has a different meaning. His name has a different mean to people as well. So I think that also plays into the role --

COOPER: Joe Johns is with some folks in the crowd. What are people saying?

JOHNS: All right. Here we go. What's your name?


JOHNS: What's your last name?

CLARK: Clark.

JOHNS: Why did you come out here today?

CLARK: To see Obama.

JOHNS: What do you think about Obama?

CLARK: I think he's the best president.

JOHNS: Have you been following him closely?


JOHNS: Have you ever paid attention to politics before?

CLARK: No, this is my first.

JOHNS: How old are you?

CLARK: I'm 10.

JOHNS: Where did you guys come from to see him pass through?

CLARK: From Oak Ridge, where my basketball game.

JOHNS: Really, you had a basketball game today?

CLARK: Yeah.

JOHNS: You came right after the game?


JOHNS: Whose idea was this? Your dad's or yours?

CLARK: My dad's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a family event. The whole family came out today. My sisters. We have family all the way from Atlanta, California and Alabama.

JOHNS: Now, is this the only inaugural event for you or are you going to be participating in other things?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We're kind of a little skeptical about actually getting down there because they say a lot of traffic and stuff like that. So I told D.J. It's probably the closest anybody is going to come to Obama is actually on the train because at the inauguration it's going to be a nice stage between us. So we got to see a good picture of him and support him.

JOHNS: So was it worth it coming out in this cold?

CLARK: Yes, it was. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think it was a little chilly. Toes got cold but it's great.

JOHNS: So before this, he was basically, what, an image on a TV screen?


JOHNS: A little flesh and blood there for the president-elect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see an image of Obama and a lot to come. We know he's here now and we know he's going to give us a lot. And we're going to improve now.

JOHNS: Thanks so much. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it. So that's the kind of thing you get in the crowd. A lot of kids. Here's a couple others. Hey, you guys came out to see Obama, right?


JOHNS: What's your name?

JAYDEN: My name is Jayden.

JOHNS: What's your name?

KI: Ki.

JOHNS: Where are you guys from? Turn around and look at the camera for me.

JAYDEN: Edgewood.

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


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


KI: And I'm 9.

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

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

JOHNS: All right. What about you?

JAYDEN: I think it's cool for him to become the president.

JOHNS: All right. Thanks, guys. There you go. It's fun talking to the kids, too. It's amazing to see how interested kids are and even energized in a process they don't really understand yet and how young they are actually getting engaged. And that's been one testament to this whole election season almost no matter who you are, you had to pay attention.

Back to you.

COOPER: All right. Joe Johns thanks very much. Some of the kids in the crowd. Our coverage continues. The train is rolling on heading toward Baltimore. We'll be there of course when it does and we'll be on even when it's not in Baltimore. We'll be talking all along this train journey and we will check in again with Candy Crowley, who is aboard the train. You can also check in with her blog If you see the train passing by where you are, send us a picture with an I- report at We will be right back.


BLITZER: Washington, D.C., getting ready for the inauguration of a president of the United States. The national mall empty right now. Pretty soon it will be full. Tuesday, noon Eastern that's when Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

Right now, he and his wife, Michelle, and the Bidens, they're on a train heading toward Baltimore, where Anderson Cooper, at least 100,000 people we're told have already gathered at city hall, outside city hall, to hear what they have to say and to be a part of this history.

COOPER: We just had a fascinating pictures. That's a picture right now of Baltimore. A few moments ago everyone was sort of jazzercising or something. They had aerobic dancers on the stage warming up the crowd. The crowd certainly seems to be continuing staying warm however they can. We were talking before the break about expectations internationally but also in terms of domestic expectations.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I remember on election night someone said this is such an amazing thing for the whole idea of you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And I thought, well, not really. Yes, if you're Barack Obama and you went to Harvard Law School. But that's -- his is a singular story. His election does not change things for millions of kids, black kids, white kids, Latino kids, impoverished kids who are struggling in bad schools, who are struggling with poverty, who are struggling with a lack of parents in the home, drugs.

There are some serious and entrenched issues in this country that the election of an African-American president will not fix. Will not fix on Tuesday. Will not fix a year from Tuesday. And I think that it's really easy to sort of throw it back to the old pull yourself up by the bootstraps thing.

MARTIN: That line is a stupid line anyway because even Obama will tell you, whether it was his grandparents or his mother or the people around him, it was a scholarship, to people who were assisting him. So there's no person who walks around truly pulls themselves up by their bootstraps.

COOPER: Outliers. It's all about how truly successful people, how they come from a community or through circumstances that whether by luck or by planning help them along the way.

MARTIN: I understand that sentiment and I understand in terms of if you are committed to do something that you are going to study hard and work hard to actually achieve it. But Soledad is absolutely right. There are still problems in this country. One person does not solve it. You have state governments; county and city governments and you have health crises.

What I'm hopeful for is that people will buy into what he is saying. And I go back to -- I've got to go biblical. When Nehemiah had a vision to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, he had a vision. But when the people said, let us rebuild, that's how the wall was rebuilt. The people are going to have to tell president Obama let us rebuild if we are going to change America.

O'BRIEN: Do you disagree with that?

GERGEN: I think there's a lot in what you say. I think there has to be a sense of community and I think Malcolm Gladwell's point was partly about culture and family but Gladwell went on to point out that if you really want to make it, you have to put in 10,000 hours on your own and it's a combination, personal work ethic. And Barack Obama stands for a personal work ethic. He very much stands for the idea of people instilling that in their children, a sense of possibility.

MARTIN: Somebody has to instill it in you.

O'BRIEN: I think there's a sense and certainly people will talk it after his election a lot of kids would like to pull themselves up but are in failing schools. My mom was a public schoolteacher in Harlem whose parents are on a crack binge and they will not pass Spanish. There are serious entrenched problems. So it's not as simple as just give those 10,000 hours. It's a combination of problems that society actually has to tackle.

GERGEN: There's no question about that. But people -- I think Roland is trying to make this point. We can't look to Barack Obama to deliver us. I think your point is he's going to unleash people's potential.

BLITZER: I think the point, Roland, is that Barack Obama may be the next president of the United States, but there's still an enormous amount of work that has to be done to make sure that everything that he stands for, that he's tried to project, actually gets implemented.

I want all of us to stand by for a moment. Jessica Yellin is out there on the national mall. She's been doing some reporting. Jessica what have you been hearing about Barack Obama's inaugural address?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Barack Obama has been working on this some time, really sat down and worked on it in earnest last weekend. The speech is going to be a call to action broadly, that he'll talk about the fact that we are facing an economic crisis here at home, two wars abroad. But as one person on his team put it to me, he'll make the case there's nothing we're facing that can't be solved with the values that have defined America from the beginning.

One idea I'm told he might touch on is this idea that we've as a society had lately an anything goes mentality, an approach of no personal or less personal responsibility than he thinks we should have, particularly in business. And that he will make this call to action in that context that we all have to be more responsible for ourselves and our communities both in our personal lives and in our working lives.

There's also this idea that he wants to define the moment we're in and give some context to all the anxiety people are feeling right now. But the broad idea here is to give a sense of his vision as opposed to specific action items. We're all used to hearing a state of the union address, for example, that lists his agenda. That's not what we're going to hear on Tuesday, but much more of the sort of thematic we're used to hearing from Barack Obama. I'm told when he gets off that train later tonight, he's going to go back to work and hammer away at it some more. There's a lot of work still to be done between now and Tuesday.

BLITZER: He's actually moved into Blair House, right, Jessica? He left the Hay-Adams Hotel so he and his family are now in Blair House ready to cross the street on Pennsylvania Avenue and on Tuesday move into the White House, is that right?

YELLIN: That's right. And I'm told when he goes home he'll go home to Blair House and work on this speech. He's inching ever closer to the White House. I'll tell you, a lot of the folks we're talking to out here today are very excited. I talked to folks from California and Miami, school kids. And they're sort of staking out the mall to figure out where they're going to stand the day the speech happens because folks know they have to get here early. It's going to be cold but they're excited and they're ready.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by. We'll get more from Jessica Yellin. She's out at the national mall. I think the secret service is happy he's at Blair House, part of the White House perimeter. It's the official residence for White House guests.

COOPER: Why he was told he couldn't move in earlier I'm still trying to understand.

BLITZER: John Howard --

COOPER: It boggles the mind that John Howard, former prime minister of Australia, is staying there one night and Barack Obama, the future president, therefore can't stay there?

BLITZER: They only have 111 rooms.

COOPER: They are also giving a number of parties apparently. They couldn't get a room at like the Schriner Hall or something for parties? I was surprised.

BLITZER: Stuff happens. We'll take a quick break and we will continue our coverage of Blair House and everything associated with this inauguration of a president. We will be right back.


BLITZER: All right. A little music from the choir of Morgan State College in Maryland. This is the steps of city hall in Baltimore. This is where Barack Obama and Joe Biden will be speaking soon. You know what, Anderson, you know I like music, don't you?

COOPER: Let's do it.

BLITZER: Let's listen a little bit the choir at Morgan State.


COOPER: That is the scene at Baltimore city hall. Signs outside on the highway are telling people that the crowd is already at capacity there in city hall in Baltimore. They're telling people not to try to come anymore. Barack Obama is heading on his way with vice president-elect Joe Biden and their families. They are on their way to Baltimore.

Also, as we know, people from around the country are trying to head to Washington, D.C. in Sundance, where the film festival has been under way, a number of celebrities and actors have already left, are heading over here. One lane of -- one runway at Dulles Airport is actually going to be closed down because they're anticipating so many private jets coming for this inauguration, if you can believe it.

Ted Rowlands is in Sundance. Ted, what have you been hearing there?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, normally, Anderson, at Sundance, all the talk is about themselves in terms of the celebrities. But this year it's all about Barack Obama. You talked about it a little bit. Some people, the big names are coming in here for a day or two dealing with their films and then they are getting out and going to the inauguration and taking part in the festivities. A lot of talk about the new administration here at the film festival.

We sat down with Robert Redford last night and much of our interview centered around Barack Obama and the incoming administration.


ROBERT REDFORD, SUNDANCE FOUNDER: My thoughts for the next four years is one I share a feeling that everybody has. Let's get out of the economic problem this administration has put us in. And that Wall Street has put us in. I mean, there's been a lot of dumb behavior that got us into this problem.

Let's get smarter. Let's get more open. Let's get more honest. And let's get more experienced, skilled people in places to lead us. I'm banking that that's going to happen. You're dealing with a political system that's difficult to move around. That's why I prefer work on the grassroots level. But think just the fact that we're going to change from what we had is huge.

Now, where -- what they do with the change remains to be seen. We can only be hopeful. I think there's been so much travesty, so much crime, so much criminal behavior, and so much effort to undo some of the most important laws of our country like our constitution that this administration should not forgive and forget that travesty. I think those people should be held accountable for the rules that they broke and the damage that they caused, including loss of lives.


ROWLANDS: Pretty harsh words from Robert Redford there. The bottom line, 25th anniversary of Sundance, it's virtually shutting down on Tuesday. No premieres and showing the inauguration on big screens throughout the city. Like everywhere else in the country people are focused on Tuesday.

COOPER: Ted, we'll talk about some of the other celebrities who are going to be on their way here coming up. We're also actually -- you were talking about the big screen there. We're actually hear on the big screen here at the museum being watched by those who are attending. It's open for business in advance of this inauguration.

We're going to be right back. Our coverage continues all the way through this evening till Barack Obama arrives by train. But he is on the way to Baltimore where a capacity crowd is there waiting to greet him. We will be right back.


BLITZER: Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, getting ready for the arrival of Barack Obama. He should be arriving at Union Station up on Capitol Hill around 7:00 p.m. Eastern, give or take. He's approaching Baltimore, Maryland, right now, where capacity crowd has already gathered outside city hall.

These are live pictures you're seeing from inside the train as it continues its journey toward Baltimore. This is the train that started in Philadelphia earlier this morning, made a stop in Wilmington, Delaware, where it picked up Joe Biden and Mrs. Biden. And now it is about to approach Baltimore and once it does they will get off the train and head over to city hall and tens of thousands, maybe 100,000 people have already gathered there.

And, Anderson, as you were just telling our viewers, there are already signs along the highways, the interstates going into Baltimore, don't try to go anywhere near city hall right now because it's jam-packed. It may be cold as you know what out there, but folks are coming in, they want to get a glimpse of Barack Obama.

COOPER: And we have seen the crowd. It is packed in there by city hall. The crowd trying to stay warm at this point as just about everybody in Washington, D.C. is trying to stay warm as well as they await the arrival. The choir I think was from Morgan State.

BLITZER: Morgan State College in Maryland. They've been singing, they've been entertaining the crowd trying to keep everyone warm. But, this is just an appetizer of what's going to happen here in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, when, obviously, that's the major day -- the official swearing-in of the 44th president of the United States. But in these days, these hours leading up, everyone, it seems, wants a little piece of the action.

COOPER: And earlier in the day we talked to Chris Lawrence, who was at the viewing stand, which has already been built -- at least part of it has been built that Barack Obama is going to be sitting at to review the inaugural parade, that's there, the viewing stand. A lot of work still being done.

BLITZER: That's above the part, right near the White House.

COOPER: You can see a worker actually working on the presidential seal, right now, above the viewing stand, there. But that's still being worked on. But, and all day long we've been hearing bands behind us practicing. At some point we heard them practicing "Hail to the Chief," which of course will be played to Barack Obama soon after he is sworn in the first time that is played for him.

BLITZER: He'll get used to it because whenever he walks into a room, as Bill Clinton used to say, they play music and all of a sudden he stopped being president, they don't play music anymore for him when he walks into a room.

COOPER: There will also a 21-gun salute right after the playing of "Hail to the Chief," so everything, David Gergen, on the day of inauguration, is done according to tradition, a tradition which has been adapted over the years, but set longing ago.

GERGEN: It is. And we're actually having -- the noise you hear behind us, I think, is part of the practice. They've had various kinds of fire drills and police drills of one sort and another. It's interesting how practiced this is, how much rehearsal goes into it. A lot of it is scripted.

But there are touches for the -- for Barack Obama making -- bringing Rick Warren in for the invocation. And Reverend Lowery, you do point out, for the benediction.

COOPER: They're bringing a poet, even.

GERGEN: They're bringing this poet. That's a really interesting -- and Elizabeth Alexander is a -- will be the fourth poet in history to deliver a poem at an inauguration. That hasn't happened very often.

COOPER: She's about to take over, I think, for the African- American studies department at the Yale University.

GERGEN: Yes, she is. She's the daughter of a man who's well- known, here. Cleveland Alexander who was secretary of the Army and very well respected African-American.

And it's part of this new Black tradition, I think, that a lot of white Americans haven't appreciated fully and that is, there is a strong, growing, vibrant Black middle class in this country, professionals who have make a lot of breakthroughs and I think also helped open the door.

COOPER: And if I'm not mistaken, if I remember correctly, she went to Sidwell Friends which is where Malia and Sasha Obama are going, as well. I'm pretty sure on that, I don't -- don't quote me on that, but I think I remember reading that somewhere.

MARTIN: You know, also talking about what's happening here in D.C. but there are people who are planning all kinds of inauguration celebrations across the country. So, you talk about viewing parties, people who have inaugural balls in cities all across America.

And so, so many folks want to be a part of this. And so they've got big screens up and everything. So, if you're planning that, have it on CNN, you'll be straight. But -- got to get that plug in for John Klein.

But again, you know, so everybody wants to be a part of this and a lot of things happening online, as well. And so, I just think it's interesting how everybody is trying to tie into this having some little way of touching this particular inauguration.

COOPER: I mean, it is today, tomorrow, especially on Tuesday, it is a day -- it's not a day of politics, it's not a day of -- I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said we're all Federalists, we're all Republicans, and those were the parties back then. But it is a day which transcends political divisions.

MARTIN: Arlen Specter and Bob Casey were at the speech and when Obama mentioned Specter first and then Casey, I turned to John King and said you know it's no longer politics when he mentioned Republican and a Democrat senator at his speech.

BLITZER: He's the senior senator from Pennsylvania, so he had no choice. But it's nice. You know, there are a lot of Republicans and a lot of conservatives, David, who are here in Washington. They didn't simply go out of town for this weekend because, you know what? I've spoken to them and last night I saw several of them. They said, you know what, we want to participate in this, as well.

GERGEN: They do. They would prefer to be the ones taking the oath. But they'll have their own series of dinners on Tuesday night. There are a number of dinners around town. John McCain is going to a private dinner where he'll be celebrated in many ways.


GERGEN: Obama has one for John McCain Monday night. It is interesting that John McCain voted against the second installment of the TARP Fund, so he's not going to roll over and just go along with Barack Obama. But to go back to it, this is a moment of ritual in the United States. We don't have many. But this is one in which traditionally we have come together as a people and remembered what binds us together and remembered that what we believe in together is more important than what we disbelieve in, that our -- and I think Barack Obama has done a very good job in this transition of trying to recall that and trying to build upon that unity.

I think he understands that it's -- it could be the source of his greatest strength as president. If he can maintain that sense of civility in this town and, yes, there are going to be vigorous disagreements, but he keeps saying -- as he said about George Bush to John King in that farewell -- in that interview yesterday, you know, I like George Bush, personally, he's a good guy. We just disagree about a lot of things, but we can keep it civil.

I think bringing that tone, if he can establish that tone in this town, it will make a huge difference what they get done on Capitol Hill.


MARTIN: I was trying to think of a song that speaks to that and I thought about Frankie Beverly Mays a song called "We are One." And so, Obama is consistently trying to make that theme. And of course, we heard it back in that great speech in Boston 2004 to the red states, blue states, there's only one United States of America.

And so, he is constantly reminding people of that because there's a point where you get beyond ideology, you can get beyond political party, you can get beyond race and gender and say it is about being one.

O'BRIEN: And, also, looking back to our history. I mean, he always does that, again, sort of the two tracks, we are one and look back to the people who first hashed out the Declaration of Independence and then were able to come up with a Constitution, flawed as it may have been, that we all look back to and try to make that union more perfect and then follow that thread as we look to the civil rights movement and follow it down further.

I mean, it is that we are one. And, also, for those of you who don't remember, here's where we, as a people, as the American people, come from, where literally we have the same roots, like it or not.

GERGEN: We are. But, I do want to emphasize that this is also a test of Washington itself and the political leaders here in Washington. We've had a number of presidents who have come forward. I mean, George H.W. Bush, George Bush, Sr., and you'll remember, Wolf, in his inaugural, said, "I'd like to hold my hand out to the other side, I'd like to work together." And there were many on the Republican side who thought that hand got bitten just within a matter of days.

Bill Clinton came here. He thought he would have a honeymoon. He was denied a honeymoon from day one. You remember the radio commentator on the conservative side the day after he's inaugurate, "day one of being held hostage by Bill Clinton." So there's a test here for Washington as well as Barack Obama.

BLITZER: You know, I want to take a break right now because we have a lot more coverage coming up including the speech by Barack Obama before what's estimated to be about 100,000 people who have gathered in Baltimore outside of city hall. That train is approaching Baltimore, right now. The Obama's and the Biden's will be heading over to city hall. Stand by, our coverage continues right after this.


BLITZER: All right, these are live pictures you're seeing from the reviewing stand across the street from the White House, that's the north lawn of the White House.

COOPER: That's a great shot.

BLITZER: And right over there, that's where the president and -- he will then be the president Tuesday afternoon, that's where they'll be watching the final aspects of this parade go in front of Pennsylvania Avenue on the White House. It is a beautiful shot.

COOPER: This is a stupid question, but do we know like, physically, have the Bushes moved their stuff out?

BLITZER: They're in the process of doing that. By Tuesday, all of them will be out, but I think their stuff, yeah, the boxes, they're going through that moving process.

MARTIN: That's what I was going to say when David was talking about the ritual. It's great when you read these stories or we tell it on television or magazines or whatever how they describe how everything is calculated, the moment when the moving van shows up, stuff comes out, they go into the Oval Office, pack up the carpet and everything...


BLITZER: ...Out of Andrews Air Force Base, Tuesday as soon as Barack Obama is sworn in as president, the former president, George W. Bush, he gets on a plane...

MARTIN: It's a great story.

COOPER: the east side of the Capitol where the helicopter will take him to Andrews.

BLITZER: And he says bye-bye.


GERGEN: The former chief of staff for Ronald Reagan, Ken Duberstein, tells a story about the last day of the Reagan presidency on the morning of transition to the next president, they went in the oval office to have a meeting and there was no place to sit down, all the furniture was gone. They had to stand up to have their meeting.

COOPER: That was the morning of?

GERGEN: Yes, the morning of. He was leaving office two or three hours later.

BLITZER: Then tire White House staff, by the way, except for some of the emergency personnel, we're told Friday that was the last day of work because they have to go ahead and paint all the offices, get it everything ready, clean it out, make sure it's perfect so when the Obama team moves in on Tuesday it will be ready to go.

MARTIN: I got my farewell e-mail from Kevin Sullivan, communications director, I mean, literally it was almost 5:00. I mean, e-mails got shut off, BlackBerries turned in, keys turned in and they talk about how when they walk out of that gate, that's it. I mean, you're no longer welcome back to the White House. It's over.

BLITZER: And it's also interesting because they don't get paid, all those White House personnel. As of Tuesday, their paychecks stop from the U.S. government, there's no severance pay, two weeks extra, nothing like that. Their salaries stop and they're told go ahead, go get a new job.

GERGEN: In some places they're going to get unemployment.

BLITZER: It's going to be harder, in this environment, right now...

GERGEN: It's going to be hard to get a job in this environment for some of these folks.

MARTIN: Can you imagine going to the unemployment office and writing that down, what was your previous job? The White House.

BLITZER: Well, you know, it's interesting you say that, because the former attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales has been out of office more than a year now and he has not been able to find a job in a law firm or anyplace else, I guess, given the, "A," the nature of some of the controversies that he left but, "B," the current environment, law firms aren't hiring people and Alberto Gonzales has been looking for a job, hasn't been able to get one. So, I happens. It's unusual.

MARTIN: Call 1-800-need a job. I don't know. Alberto, he could find something in Texas. President Bush will hook him up.

BLITZER: All right, let's and set the stage. We're waiting for the president-elect and the vice president-elect to show up at city hall in Baltimore. We think that train has now reached Baltimore. They'll be heading to city hall and we'll be hearing what they have to say to the 100,000 or so folks who have gathered there to hear the next president of the United States.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: All right. These are live pictures from outside of city hall in Baltimore, Maryland, where President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden shortly will be arriving to deliver speeches. We don't know exactly how many people. We heard earlier maybe 100,000. We've recently heard from our producer on the scene, Peter Hamby, that maybe 35,000 have arrived there, maybe more.

We know for sure, Anderson, tens of thousands of people have showed up at city hall in Baltimore to hear the next president of the United States and the next vice president of the United States. And it's bitter cold there. Despite that bitter cold temperature, they want to be part of this event. They want to be an eyewitness to what's going on.

And so, they're there in Baltimore enjoying what's going on. And at the same time, I have to tell you, Anderson, you know this, authorities have told folks if you're still trying to get to city hall, don't bother, it's full, it's capacity, it's not a good time to come to city hall.

COOPER: And from Baltimore, of course, the next stop will be Union Station in Washington, D.C., and the train will then -- the train journey will then finish.

BLITZER: It's an amazing journey, when you think about it, because normally when they come to Washington, I guess there's different ways of coming, but it's been a while since somebody took a train to Washington, Abraham Lincoln, they're all citing the historic precedent of Abraham Lincoln taking almost two weeks to get from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D.C.

COOPER: Bill Clinton and then Vice President Gore or Vice President-elect Gore, took a bus from Monticello...

BLITZER: Right, I was on that motorcade.

COOPER: Were you really?

BLITZER: Yes, it was an exciting time to cover an incoming president. I spent most of the transition in Little Rock covering that transition. So, I got to know Little Rock then we went to Monticello and we made our way to Washington, D.C.

COOPER: I think one of the most interesting pre-inaugural journeys is George Washington who took this very sort of stately journey by horse all the way. There were balls all along the way, people praising him.

GERGEN: It was the most incredible of all these journeys. He was leaving Mt. Vernon and going to New York and you know, he, by nature, didn't want all of this festivity, but almost everywhere he went, especial in Trenton, where they had won the famous victory and they turned out and they festooned the bridge they'd built and had garlands for him. They had women who were dancing and singing and one thing and another, and they had balls. And that established the tradition. And thereafter many presidents have come. The tradition fell into a disuse for awhile, it didn't happen after -- you know, very much after Woodrow Wilson, we put more and more festivities into the inauguration in Washington itself with all the balls and everything. But Bill Clinton was one of the ones who actually revived it. And when Reagan flew in...

COOPER: I think Bill Clinton had more inaugural balls than anyone else. I think they had 13.


GERGEN: Yes, he loved it. And he went to all them.

COOPER: Yes, there was like 14.

O'BRIEN: This year, in the economic situation that you have, one is unseemly to throw money at a ball, it just looks bad. But also, you know, people have been blogging, writing articles about not being able to afford a ridiculously expensive inaugural gown and sort of the ways they're cutting costs in order to be able to celebrate, but at the same time, not be extravagant, which is not only unseemly, but it's also impossible...

BLITZER: It's a delicate balance that folks are trying to walk, right now. On one hand, tough economic times, you don't want to be obscene in spending money. On the other hand, you want to celebrate, this is an historic moment and people want to have some fun, some excitement and so it's not that easy to manage that...

COOPER: It's also helping the local economy certainly in Washington, D.C. employing a lot of people and they've tried to not have corporations be able to give money. It's basically individuals, you know, big donors, people giving up to $50,000, some families, George Torres (ph), his family, five members of one family given $50,000.

GERGEN: If you want a ticket to the top thing, all the top things, including the inauguration and the balls and everything else, it is $50,000 a person, $100,000 a couple. It's a stiff price, but it has enabled them to keep the corporations out of this. And keep the lobbying forces out of this.

MARTIN: But you have some great stories, too. Of course, -- look, you have a community ball that's going on. I was reading, you say the other day, I wish I could remember his name, right now, this businessman, decided to take up J.W. Marriott on this offer. And he got 350 rooms, spend a million dollars, and he's literally bringing in people across the country. And he's -- right. And he's sitting there and he offering them haircuts. They have -- it's a people's ball.

And so, you have these wonderful stories of people who don't have a lot...

O'BRIEN: And who never, ever, ever would get to go to inaugural ball, ever. MARTIN: But they still want to come here and participate. And so, I understand the nature in terms of where we are with the economy. But it's also interesting, this is still historical. I mean, this is historical. People say, I don't care what the situation is, I want to be there to do something and so, the parties, the honors, the receptions, the various events, there's so many things that are going on outside the official schedule, it's amazing.

BLITZER: Let's hope he'd stopped by Tuesday a little bit.


O'BRIEN: A lot.

BLITZER: It seems to be getting colder as we've been sitting here.

MARTIN: None of these parties are inside -- you know, they're all inside. We're just hanging out outside.

BLITZER: They may all be inside, but you know what, Roland, we're all outside.

MARTIN: Way to go. Way to go.

BLITZER: We'll take another quick break. We're getting ready for Baltimore, Maryland. Tens of thousands of people have joined us at the city hall, in Baltimore. They're getting ready to hear from the president-elect of the United States. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Now, there they are in Baltimore, Maryland. A lot of people have gathered, tens of thousands. We have no idea exactly how many. We only know this, it's full, it's capacity, right now in Baltimore. There are signs outside on all the highways coming into Baltimore, if you're planning ongoing city hall to hear President- elect Barack Obama, don't bother right now, no more room outside of city hall.

It's not surprising. People are excited, even though it's bitter cold out there. They want to listen, they in this day and in this day and age of high-tech technology they want the digital cameras and their phones to get a picture of Barack Obama, as well.

COOPER: And the crowd is listening to somebody singing "Ain't No Stopping Us Now." The Baltimore chief police said they would cut off the crowd at 35,000, so they are not allowing anymore people in, at this point. And we are very close to the arrival of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The train having already arrived in Baltimore. They're going to be making their way to city hall and from then, nothing to stop them from coming to Washington.

BLITZER: Nothing stopping them, now. You know, it's very interesting that this is really the first major chance they've had in Baltimore to get an up-close view of Barack Obama because, as someone pointed out, maybe David Gergen or somebody, during the campaign, Maryland wasn't really in contention, it was a pretty Democratic state, a pretty blue state, as they say and there was no need to go campaign there.

And so this is an opportunity for a lot of Barack Obama supporters and friends and fans and even if they may not necessarily Barack Obama supporters, they just want to be eyewitness the to history.

COOPER: And, of course, this is a train route which Abraham Lincoln took. But, his arrival in Baltimore, very different, of course, than Barack Obama's, as was pointed out earlier today. When Abraham Lincoln, Baltimore, was of course a hotbed of secessionist activity, Maryland being a slave state, so there was a great concern about Abraham Lincoln's security through Maryland and in Baltimore. The train basically just went through without any fanfare.

GERGEN: It was more traumatic than that, Anderson. There was a young detective agency in Chicago, headed by a fellow named Pinkerton. Remember the Pinkerton guy? Yeah. And it was Allen Pinkerton and he got word that there was an explosive sound at one of Lincoln's trains. And he urged Lincoln and the word came from steward (ph) in Washington for Lincoln to come in on a different train. And Lincoln actually snuck in. He was supposed to go through Baltimore during the day and he actually went and got on an early -- he went in disguise, got on a train in Philadelphia, and came overnight. So, he arrived in Washington at 6:00 a.m. in the morning.

O'BRIEN: He paid a big price for that, didn't he? I mean, people slammed him for being cowardly. And some people say it's why he went onto have these very public event, which would be leading, really, to his assassination four years later because he was happy to sit out in public.

COOPER: So, did he not even stop in Baltimore?

GERGEN: He didn't stop in Baltimore. He came through about 4:00 in the morning. And nobody knew he was on that train.

O'BRIEN: I think there was some ordnances, right, so they to drag the train through, because you couldn't have the train engines going at that hour in the city, so they had to hook the train up and sort of drag it through the city.

GERGEN: But, it was completely incognito, in effect, so that all the people who were trying to get him. And the worst secessionist, it was a hotbed of Southern sympathizers in Baltimore...

BLITZER: I think we're getting ready because I'm hearing in the background in Baltimore some of the preliminary introductions. I think this crowd is about to get a little excited when they see the next president of the United States, the next vice president of the United States show up and it should be momentarily.

I guess, Anderson, as we look at the podium up there, they're going to walking down those steps and that crowd is going to be pretty excited. I don't know who's speaking right now, but, so they're just going to start the early -- the preliminary activities.