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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Obamas, Bidens Take the Train to Washington
Aired January 17, 2009 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We do have some videotape that we've just received from aboard this train. Just before it got to Baltimore, there was a little photo opportunity. The photographers were allowed to go in. I want to play it for our viewers right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA: I'm watching the TV and I see him land and get off the plane. And then I turned off the TV. And then you started hearing all these oh helicopters. And I thought, Malia, Sasha, I think daddy's coming. And then Kristin, one of the staff, e-mails the president-elect is on his way. I'm like I know, I can hear him. I heard you a mile away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a good problem to have.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Unless you're in some of the traffic that's being blocked.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we were more...
B. OBAMA: I always feel just sort of guilty. You know, you can see all these folks. And I'm thinking, well, there's like a bunch of votes I just lost right here.
M. OBAMA: Here's some of the...
B. OBAMA: She wants to hear the swearing in. She's heard me speak before. She wants to hear some of the concerts.
M. OBAMA: But I think the Barack's speech (INAUDIBLE).
B. OBAMA: Shh, that's not what you're supposed to say in front of the press.
M. OBAMA: Oh, I'm sorry.
B. OBAMA: You're supposed to say, "it will be all right."
M. OBAMA: Oh, it's all right. Well, I'm looking forward to hearing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Michelle Obama saying she's looking forward to - I think she was saying she's looking forward to hearing Barack Obama's speech. BLITZER: Yeah, I mean, you're hearing it better than mine, maybe. I couldn't tell, but it looked like they were having a little casual ride into Baltimore at that point on one of those cabins.
COOPER: It is fascinating to see the relationship between these two. And it's something you've looked into a lot. And...
O'BRIEN: It's a modern marriage. It's a marriage of partners. It really is. You know, when they did that fist bump, which some places got a lot of flack. Other people thought it was really cute. To me and to a lot of people, I thought they said, you know, this is a moment of people who are in their mid 40s, relatively young couple with young children, who are clearly partners, who love each other and are, you know, are equals. She supports him.
In the interview I did with Michelle Obama, she talked a lot about, you know, being part of the team that is their family. And so in a lot of ways, just watching that when she's leaning like this and doing this, you know, it's a really -- obviously, they're close, too. And they love each other. But then there's also this sort of partner message that is sent consistently. I think it's a really interesting thing to watch.
BLITZER: Today's her birthday, by the way, Donna. She's 45 years old. He's 47-years old. They're both graduates of Harvard Law School. So when Soledad says this is a partnership and they're both, obviously, very intelligent, professional people. And they have a wonderful - look, by all accounts, they seem to have a wonderful relationship, but there is a little back and forth. And she says things in these public photo ops that he's probably a little nervous about.
COOPER: There's so - I mean , in so many political couples in the past an artifice, or at least in the public eye. I mean, who knows what it's like behind the scenes. But there doesn't seem to be that level of -- that kind of artifice here. I mean, there's a realness, which I think many people can relate to in what they see in their relationship.
BRAZILE: He's very close to Michelle. He trusts her advice. She really -- she's down to earth. She's someone that really hides nothing from him. And she's very comfortable with herself and very graceful, a very dignified woman. And of course, the president-elect is charming. He is - he's very engaging. And I think they have the right chemistry in terms of their relationship and their partnership, but they are a wonderful couple. They're a great role model for, I think, everyone, every family.
BLITZZER: And they have two great little girls, too, as we all know, David. It seems like, you know, every time President Bush has spoken of Barack Obama over the last few weeks, he welcomes, he's very generous and supportive of this historic change, but he always refers to this wonderful family that Barack Obama has.
GERGEN: I think that's right. And because both of them seem extremely attached to their children. And it's -- I was with a young man that used to work for me who was her driver back at the convention four years ago. And the morning after he gave that very successful speech, he took her to the airport. And she came out in her sweats. And all she wanted to talk about - she didn't want to talk about that great speech. All she wanted to talk about, she wanted to get home to her kids. She really wanted to get home to those two little girls.
And it's very clear that he really likes to get home to them. I -- this was one of the most unusual transitions we've had in that they both - they all wanted to stay home. You know? They didn't want to go to -- eventually they went to vacation, but they wanted to spend a lot of time together at home. I think both -- all of them sense this is the last opportunity for us to be sort of a private family. And I think it's been hard for him to contemplate giving up some of the freedom he's had to be an urban person, to walk around the neighborhoods., to go to these stores and restaurants. But because there is this sense that this is his foundation. This is his rock.
O'BRIEN: As a parent, too, to say, you know, your spouse is a grown up, but knows what she's getting into. But you have these two children. And you've got this media that is changing in a changing world. And the girls are so little. And you can't protect them from everything.
And, you know, you put them in front of the national spotlight. And you know, as a parent, one would just wonder how do you feel about -- how much do they get exposed? How much do you protect them? How much do - you know, they're going to make mistakes. Things are going to happen. It's just the way it is. They're little kids. They're, you know, they're going to grow up. And...
BLITZER: It's going to happen now. It's too late for them to start worrying about it now.
BRAZILE: You heard Michelle say a couple weeks ago that they must continue to make up their own bed at the White House. That will be a very interesting experience.
O'BRIEN: I'm going to use that on my own kids. You know, Malia and Sasha make their own beds at the White House, so you get in your room and make your bed.
BLITZER: Let's see if it works for you.
O'BRIEN: I'll let you know. I doubt it.
BLITZER: As we watch and wait the arrival over at Union Station here in Washington, I think it's going to be fairly soon, Anderson, I want to look ahead a little bit to tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday. Tomorrow -- there's Union Station right there. They're going to get a special guest within a matter of a few moments, the Obama Express on this way to Washington, D.C. and Union Station.
But tomorrow, as I look at the schedule, it's Sunday. It's the day before Martin Luther King Junior's holiday -- national holiday here in the United States, a very special day. Two days before the actual inauguration. It'll be a Sunday. And it'll be a day for reflection on the part of the incoming president.
COOPER: Absolutely. It'll also be a day of activity. I mean, there's this big concert. There's a big public event...
BLITZER: At the Lincoln Memorial.
COOPER: ..at the Lincoln Memorial. He's going to be attending. It's going to be several hours long. A lot of entertainers are going to be performing as well. There's also a lot of preparation for Barack Obama to make. I mean, we understand he's still got his speech to work on. He's been working on it. Do we know the full details on when he began it or?
GERGEN: You know, the young speech writer by the name of John Favreau, who is a favorite within the campaign. He's only 27-years old. I mean, think about that. I mean, he's playing Ted Sorenson, 27. It's an unbelievable role.
They met the week before Thanksgiving. And they spent about an hour together in which Barack Obama really outlined. Here's what I want to say. And as -- their process is that Favreau then goes and writes it up and reworks it a little bit and gives it back to him. Favreau actually said I can't give it to you when you want it. I'm going on a family vacation. And Barack said OK.
And Favreau gave him something in early December. And they've been sort of bouncing it back and forth since then. But when I was over at the transition headquarters on Friday, they said "we've got a ways to go yet. We've got a ways to go."
COOPER: We understand that after - obviously, there's lots to talk about about what's going to happen in on the day he's sworn in, on Tuesday. We're going to talk about that after a short break.
BLITZER: You know, one other point I want to make. Maybe Donna knows. They're going to be attending church services tomorrow morning first thing in the morning. Is that right? BRAZILE: That's correct. And there's also a prayer service, a traditional prayer service the day after he's inaugurated at the National Cathedral, but tomorrow he's going to a private service.
COOPER: And it's also tradition on Inauguration Day to attend a church service. A tradition which started with Franklin Delano Roosevelt back in 1933 I think it was. And just about every president has done that, I think, except Richard Nixon in his second term. We'll talk about what's going to happen on Inauguration Day when we come back. And our coverage continues with Candy Crowley blogging on CNN.com. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Washington. You're looking at a live picture of Capitol Hill. Right there on Tuesday at noon, that's the moment, that's the moment it will occur. Barack Obama will be sworn in as the next president of the United States. But still major events taking place between now and noon Eastern, Anderson, on Tuesday. COOPER: And that's when the jumbotron screens, there's going to be more than 20 of them all along the Mall. You saw that in the shot a moment ago on the left-hand side of your screen. The jumbotron. People obviously are not close enough to the swearing-in to actually see it. There it is. They're kind of testing it out there. They are going to be located all throughout Washington, D.C., all along the Mall, to the Lincoln Memorial, as well as along the parade route. So those who are waiting on the parade route can watch the swearing in.
But it's interesting, David Gergen, just how regimented Inauguration Day is. I mean, everything is planned out really to the second. And a lot is based on traditions from the past. I mean, going back all the way to the Constitution. The Constitution it says that the Inauguration has to take place on the 20th of January at 12:00. The oath that the president takes is written into the Constitution. So there is a -- everything is a ritual. It is a tradition. And there's importance placed on that.
GERGEN: Yes, the Constitution speaks to when it is and the oath. Everything else is become encrusted by tradition. And it's been added on gradually. So the balls now are part of the tradition.
But the ceremony itself, you know, there are about three or four things you have to do. And then the president-elect has to make a decision who he wants to have give the invocation. And they've -- he's made a controversial choice here with Rick warren. He's got to decide on the benediction, of course. He has to decide on whether he wants a poet.
John Kennedy was the first president who had a poet. He had Robert Frost famously, who - and it was such a - you know, we had a great snowfall here in Washington the night before. And it was glistening out there that day. And the poem blew away.
And he recited another one out of memory. But then - and then that -- no one else did that until Bill Clinton. He had two poets. He had Maya Angelou the first time out. And now, Barack Obama is having a woman, who's here now, an African-American poet.
COOPER: And for the first family, the day really begins with this church service...
COOPER: ...which as we said before the break, goes back to 1933. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who started doing that.
GERGEN: St. Jones Church just right across the street from the White House, right across from Lafayette Park. And it's a small church. It does not accommodate -- unlike the National Cathedral. I guess he's going there on Wednesday morning...
BRAZILE: Wednesday morning.
GERGEN: ...for a service. But I was pleased to hear because the early announcements seemed to indicate he was not going to church. And I really wondered whether that was going to be a problem for him.
BLITZER: I would have been shocked on the Sunday before he was inaugurated president, he doesn't attend church.
GERGEN: Well, the morning of too.
GERGEN: You know, the morning of really important.
COOPER: We understand tomorrow he will not be, but there's not going to be a church service.
COOPER: But that's what I just heard in my ear.
BLITZER: I'm surprised.
COOPER: But Tuesday morning there will be, as is the tradition, from the church service they then go back to the White House.
GERGEN: They go to the White House for coffee. And it's -- that has become part of the ritual. Some of those conversations over the years have been very strained. And I'm sure we'll be talking more about that.
But in this case, the Bushes and the Obamas have gotten along very well. I mean, Barack Obama is probably had more conversations with the sitting outgoing president than I think we've seen in any transition in recent years partly because of the state of the economy.
COOPER: And then, Barack Obama heads with President Bush.
COOPER: And President Bush sits on the right-hand side, I believe, of Barack Obama.
COOPER: I'm not sure why -- how that tradition began.
GERGEN: I'm not sure how it did either. But I think, you know, until the right-hand side is sort of the position of respect in the car, like that in the limousine, and he's the sitting president. Until they get up there and take -- and then they have the oath. And then it switches.
But they do ride up together. And then Barack Obama will ride back with Michelle. She'll be alongside him. One of the things I still think is a suspense here is, whether he's going to actually get out of that car. You know, we've had reports here now he's going to get out of the car and walk on Pennsylvania Avenue.
BLITZER: Just before he gets to that pedestrian walkway near the White House. I assume he's going to get out there and walk the final part, but maybe he'll get out earlier. We don't know.
GERGEN: The Secret Service must be going nuts over that.
O'BRIEN: He has to get out and walk. I mean...
GERGEN: I think it's important.
O'BRIEN: I actually think it's -- it has to be done. If you're going to have a 1.7 million people on the mall who are there to see you, and you are the first African-American president, and you are the fulfillment of so many peoples' dreams, you got to get out of the car, even if it's for 100 yards or less, 20 yards.
O'BRIEN: I absolutely would lay money on the fact that they will work it out. I know he's got this new very secure limo. They've changed it this year. And it's so big that I think he's going to have to walk in front of it as opposed to behind. Because if it's so big, if he walked behind, it would actually physically block him.
BLITZER: They sort of - they dubbed it "the beast," because it's got major capabilities, that Cadillac.
O'BRIEN: But of course, ironically, then you get out of "the beast" and walk in front of it.
O'BRIEN: But he's going to have to, don't you think?
BRAZILE: I agree.
O'BRIEN: Reach out and touch Americans?
GERGEN: I think he should. I think he will. But I'm just telling you the Secret Service, for them, this is cardiac arrest time.
O'BRIEN: I'll bet.
COOPER: It's just one more thing to watch for on Inauguration Day. We're going to check in with Tom Foreman, who's also got more about what happens on Inauguration Day right after this break. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back. We're told we're just minutes away from Barack Obama's arrival - his arrival in Union Station. BLITZER: The Obama Express will be coming in from Baltimore momentarily. They'll get off. The press, everybody else will get off. And then they'll head over in a motorcade to Blair House, the official residence right across the street from the White House, where the Obamas are staying in these days leading up to the inauguration. I think there's going to be virtually nothing. No ceremony, no speaking certainly at Union Station. It's going to be strictly business. He's had three speaking events today. And I think that's enough.
COOPER: But there are certainly a lot of people gathered at Union Station, who are -- would like very much to see President-elect Obama if they can. Suzanne Malveaux's also standing by there.
Suzanne, how many people have gathered there? Do you know?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it might be close to about 100 people or so. Anderson, it's amazing since we've told everybody it's not likely that you're going to see Barack Obama here. He is going to be arriving very shortly, but he is actually going to be going directly from the train to his motorcade and then on to Blair House, but it hadn't stopped anybody from really hanging out, asking a lot of questions about when he is arriving.
There's a real sense of excitement here. I spoke to people who are actually - I know everybody's very excited here. But I spoke to somebody who's from Liberia, for instance, who's actually here from New York, from Atlanta, all kinds of places.
A lot of folks, they don't even have tickets necessarily. They're staying with friends. They're staying with family, sleeping on cots. They all just want to be a part of this experience. There really is a sense that you've got people from around the country, even around the world, Anderson, who are descending on Washington right now. It's becoming very congested, but everybody seems to be extremely excited about what is taking place.
COOPER: There's no doubt about that. You can sense the excitement really all over Washington, D.C. Donna Brazile, you've been traveling around, walking around, people out there. Have you seen the - I mean, Inauguration Day is always exciting for people no matter what your politics are. But have you seen this kind of level of excitement?
BRAZILE: No, I haven't. And you know, by the way I live on a block with both Republicans and Democrats. And everyone is excited. People -- I saw balloons outside today. And I'm like, what is going on? This not the 4th.
But people are excited all over the city. And as you ride around Union Station to, you know, just pass this historic landmark, there's a big sign "hope". And then another one "joy" and - and both hope and joy are lit up with red, white, and blue lights just to again welcome the new president to Washington, D.C.
BLITZER: David Gergen, as you watch and reflect on the history of this event, knowing what you do know about the almost certain battles that will develop, the controversies that will develop. Eventually there will be, you know, major disagreements. They'll be certain crises that will develop. Forget about all the economic distress right now or the national security issues, but there's going to be some problems. There's going to be tensions within the White House, certainly within the administration. And no one should be under any illusions that it's all going to be perfect.
GERGEN: I think we saw in the two weeks in the runup to this that it's going to be messy. Governing is by its nature messy. But when you have so many different problems. As you know, Wolf, it's -- a White House can do a very good job when they've got ball they're juggling in the air. And sometimes they can do OK when they've got to.
This White House is going to have half a dozen balls in the air. And the tendency in that situation is to drop one or two. And it's going to be very hard for them.
The other thing, they've got such a fine group of people coming in, so many talented people coming into the White House. They're going to have this clusters - these clusters of all-stars. Who's going to manage all that? Who's going to keep them harmonious and working, you know, together? That's a huge - going to be a huge, huge job. And they've already got - they've got their hands full. They've got - you know, they've had their hands full with the transition. It has taxed them to the limits. But so far, they've been governing on the domestic side. As of Wednesday morning or as of Tuesday night, he's got to be the foreign policy president, too.
BLITZER: David speaks with some real authority on this kind of business because I remember in the first year of the Clinton White House, of the Clinton administration, there were enormous crises, a lot of problems, whether personnel problems or other problems. And you got that phone call when you probably least expected it. And they said David Gergen, will you come help us get this house in order?
GERGEN: Well, they had -- it's not easy to come in, you know, for a new president. Bill Clinton, as talented as he was, person with enormous capacity. I guess the train's coming in.
COOPER: That is the train right there as it heads into Union Station. They won't be getting off immediately. The press corps will get off, get in position in order to, I guess, get the shots of Obama and Biden coming off.
BLITZER: Yes, there's about 90 members of the media on that train, including our own Candy Crowley, who's been coming all the way -- remember, this started off around 10:00 a.m. this morning in Philadelphia, just after 10:00 a.m. when Barack Obama was in Philadelphia and spent the night in Philadelphia last night. Flew to Philadelphia from Ohio, where he was as at a factory yesterday promoting the economic stimulus package that he's putting forward together with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the leaders of the United States Congress. Spent the night in Philadelphia. And gave a little speech in Philadelphia at the train station there on 30th Street Station. And then, of course, continued on to Wilmington, Baltimore, and now, Washington, D.C.
COOPER: You know, there had been so much talk before this about how many people would line the train route. It's a freezing cold day. Clearly not huge numbers of people. I mean, at certain stops, we saw large numbers of people, but not, you know, hundreds of thousands of people all along the train route that some had thought. Was this successful, do you think, David Gergen?
GERGEN: I -- it's interesting. I understand on the CNN blog site there are been a lot of people writing in during the day, saying how much they're enjoying watching it. That is giving them a sense of anticipation about the inauguration itself. And it's just -- I think there's something about a train.
COOPER: Isn't that song of a commercial?
GERGEN: You know, hearing that...
COOPER: There's a song. It's magic hearing that.
GERGEN: Well, there is. But you know, when you heard that train, and you know, when it was blaring out there, it's just that the sound of a train is just - is wonderful.
And - so Anderson, I don't think it was, you know, that -- did it exceed expectations? No, I don't think so. But I think there was sort of something heartwarming about it. And symbolically, very important.
That big crowd he had in Baltimore was, you know, very, very important for him. But you know, one of the things about this is going to be the weather and all these reports about how crowded it's going to be. It may discourage some people from coming. We may not see the this throngs we expect. I'm sure we'll have a large crowd.
COOPER: And Barack Obama himself has been cautionary, saying you know...
COOPER: ...it is going to be cold. It's going to be tough and congested and...
GERGEN: Some estimates have been reduced. I think there's still going to get a couple of million people here. But you know, at one point they were talking about 4 or 5 million people. I don't think that's what we're going to see.
BLITZER: If it would have been a really warm, beautiful sunny day in the 50s, let's say, or even the 40s...
GERGEN: That would transform.
BLITZER: ...then you would have huge. But if it's going to be in the 20s or 30s, that will discourage a lot of people from coming to Washington, D.C.
GERGEN: I agree.
O'BRIEN: How come Lincoln train ride, the one upon which this one is modeled, was headed to an Inauguration that took place in March. I mean, we would get 10 degrees warmer for sure.
GERGEN: Originally, the Constitution called for it in March under the Bill of - under the Amendments to the Constitution. And it was changed because of the long wait for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. He got elected in March. And he was -- got inaugurated until - I mean, got elected in November, not inaugurated until March. We were in the midst of a Depression. People said never again should we have to wait that long.
So for his second inaugural, he actually took the oath of office in January. I don't know why they picked the coldest months for that.
BLITZER: I'll tell you what happened when the Constitution was written a long, long time ago, there weren't all that kind of great travel opportunities to come from all the different states and make it to Washington, D.C. So you needed a few months to get ready for that.
BLITZER: They didn't have planes, obviously, or cars or buses.
GERGEN: Well, originally in New York when they first had it.
COOPER: Well, when George Washington was sworn in, they had delayed it to get Martha Washington up there, and so she could go to some of the inaugural balls. And I understand she actually wasn't able to make it. So he actually went to the inaugural balls by himself. For some reason, I'm getting a phone call. I don't know why somebody would be trying to call me.
GERGEN: Apparently danced a great deal.
COOPER: He danced a great deal, yeah. Not with Martha Washington, but with other people...
O'BRIEN: Well, I'm shocked that he had a good time at the inaugural ball.
BLITZER: Those are the ten cars. The Obama Express that's carried the president-elect, the vice-president elect, and their families to Washington, D.C. We're waiting, I guess, they're going to be getting out - are they getting out on this side or the other side?
COOPER: The other side.
BLITZER: It looks like the other side, so we're probably not going to see a lot of folks getting off the train, but that's just a nice shot of a nice train.
COOPER: But we will see. They'll regroup where the press corps is. And then, I think the press corps will get in position, too. So we actually will see a shot of the future president and the future vice president and their families as they arrive in Washington.
Donna, do you think -- will Washington change Barack Obama?
BRAZILE: I don't think so. First of all, D.C. is a city of neighborhoods. Most of us think of this city and look at all of the majestic monuments. This is really like a small town. People know each other. We're - everyone gets along. And I'm looking forward to Barack Obama just, you know, making his way to the Eastern Market, for example, on the weekend and getting to know the people east of the Anacostia, River, and going down to historic Georgia Avenue like most ordinary people.
COOPER: But the weight of the presidency, I mean, changes a person. And we've already seen Barack Obama over the last, even towards the end of the campaign, but particularly over the last several weeks start to assume and bear that burden?
O'BRIEN: He talked about that with John King when they talked about that Blackberry. And you know, he really wanted to keep his Blackberry because he said...
BLITZER: In his case, two Blackberrys.
O'BRIEN: I'm think he's hoping to keep one of them. The idea being I don't want to be disconnected from the people who can say, "hey, buddy, don't forget about this." Hey, you know, almost like I don't want to get too big for my britches. I want to be connected to the people still. No one will ever forget that shot. George Bush - the first George Bush looking at the groceries going by and sort of wondering how a grocery store all worked together. I think he was in a suit. It was just very - you know, clearly an image of disconnectedness. It didn't show somebody sort of got the sense of what regular folks, those every-day folks do.
And you know, a picture can be worth a thousand words. And you definitely got the sense in that interview he did with John King that that's a concern. He doesn't want to be the president who's disengaged and disconnected.
GERGEN: One of the great dangers in the presidency is the guilded cage. And you can become quite isolated in there. I think the fact that he's also younger and has young children, and wants to be out with his kids, is going to make him more of the sort of family man who will stay more connected.
You know, if you come in there in your 60s, there's a tendency to sort of get removed. But I would think he's vigorous enough, interested enough in sort of what's going on around him. And because he is black in a predominantly black city, I think that's going to make a real difference. I can't remember a president who ever thought of Anacostia. And he'd be the first one who could really begin to connect it as parts of the city. That would be a wonderful thing.
BRAZILE: Well, D.C. is just a - it's a great city. It's a place where I think, most people, especially like Barack Obama with two small children, he took his kids the other night to Lincoln Memorial, but we have the National Zoo, which is another historic place here in the city. And I talked about the U Street corridor. And to take them down the avenue where Duke Ellington made jazz famous. So this is an opportunity for him to even just show his daughters a little bit of American history by just venturing out of the White House five or ten blocks up the road.
GERGEN: There's another thing about Washington that's going on right now, it's a city with a lot of reform that's underway. With this new mayor, young mayor...
BLITZER: Fenty. And they're very close, by the way, Barack Obama and the mayor.
GERGEN: Right. He went around. And they've got this young woman, Michelle Rhee, who's the superintendent of schools, who's really trying to turn things upside down. D.C. has a lot of charter schools that have started here. D.C. is becoming a laboratory for social change in an urban setting. And both Barack Obama and Michelle Obama could become more engaged in that. I think especially coming out as an urban president, I think it'd be a nice connection.
BLITZER: Do you think he's going to get, Donna, like so many of us getting, Potomac fever after he leaves office?
BRAZILE: Well, I hope that he finds this city delightful. And the people, of course, are very engaging. And you know, one of the things that President Clinton did throughout his presidency was to invite ordinary people to come over. To have popcorn, to watch movies. And I think Barack Obama and Michelle have said on many occasions that she would like to invite ordinary people to come and visit the White House.
So this is a moment to really break bread with the people of Washington, D.C. We've been looking for a president like this, someone who wants to engage us and be part of the city, not just of the city.
COOPER: Well, maybe some pick-up basketball games...
BRAZILE: There's a lot of places.
COOPER: They're actually going to have to enlarge the basketball court at the White House. I mean, it's a half court right now.
BLITZER: It's barely a half court.
COOPER: Barely a half court.
BLITZER: Not even that. But you know, he can do a little shooting, not much of a game.
GERGEN: Great super bowl party.
BRAZILE: Absolutely. Well, you know, we have Georgetown University, Howard University, George Washington University not far from him. So there are a lot of sports facilities where the president can go and stretch his legs and shoot a couple hoops.
COOPER: The train is slowly moving again into -- further into the station. Again, we're not sure exactly how this is going to play out. So we're just kind of watching it...
BLITZER: We're watching - we're learning as our viewers are learning because we don't have a whole lot of guidance on what happens next. The only thing we know is when the president-elect and his family and everyone else are off the train, they'll eventually get into a motorcade and make their way -- maybe right behind us on Pennsylvania Avenue.
O'BRIEN: It looks like they're setting up behind us.
BLITZER: Right along from Union Station, which is up on Capitol Hill over to the White House.
BRAZILE: I'm familiar with this neighborhood, because I've lived here for 27 years. And I'm sure he'll come around Massachusetts Avenue and take Louisiana Avenue over here to Constitution Avenue. That will take him to Pennsylvania on to the Blair House.
COOPER: And there you see the last car of the train. That is the car that Barack Obama and his family and Joe Biden have been in. We've seen them appear several times out of the end of that car, waving to crowds as they had a slow roll through some communities. But that is most likely the car that they are still in and will be emerging from very shortly.
GERGEN: They've already got the streets blocked off here...
BRAZILE: Oh, yeah.
GERGEN: ...for traffic.
BLITZER: We can see from our vantage point.
BLITZER: We're way up high. We're on top of the Newseum. Just for viewers who aren't familiar with the Newseum, it's a museum dedicated to news, to my profession, to all of our profession. And it's really amazing what's going on. I guess some helicopters are flying overhead. A little added security precautions as well for the president-elect. They're making sure everything is safe and sound, as we know it will be.
But the Newseum, if you're coming to Washington, D.C., come over here and take a look and see the history of news as it's unfolded over the years. It's a great place and can be a newsman or a newswoman yourself. There are interactive opportunities there.
COOPER: Getting a glimpse sort of in one of the cars, one of the compartments inside that last train, which has been holding the future president.
BLITZER: And that's where they went out and they waved to the people during that slow roll, as they called it. Is that an official term, a "slow roll?"
COOPER: I don't know. You keep saying it so...
BLITZER: I like that term.
COOPER: ...I buy it.
BLITZER: I like the slow roll. Yeah, it's a -- I don't know if we're going to see anybody getting out? Did he get off already yet? Do we know if we got off?
COOPER: I don't think so. Clearly, they seem to be in position.
BLITZER: Well, we're told - David Borman our Washington bureau chief says that we're going to see him and the families get off. That'll be an exciting shot to see them. I'm sure they'll be happy that this day is...
COOPER: From here they go to Blair House, where they have moved into and then - for - I mean, is -- the Bushes. Is their stuff still in the White House?
BLITZER: Well, the Bushes are spending the weekend right now at Camp David. This is the final weekend, the presidential retreat in the Catoctin mountains of Maryland. So the Bushes are not at the White House now. I'm sure they're cleaning up the White House. Boxes have been moved. Things are getting stored or whatever they're doing, because on Tuesday, the new family moves in. And one family moves out.
But over this weekend, President Bush and his family, they're spending the weekend at Camp David as they like to do on so many weekends over these past eight years. So this is the last car on the train. We called it the caboose at one point. Anderson, not a caboose we were told by experts. The technical term is the last train, the last car on the train.
COOPER: And overhead right now, helicopters have been following this train all throughout. There's been a no-fly zone over the train as it has gone along the 137 mile journey, except for helicopters which are Secret Service in charge of all security obviously. They have been monitoring both from air and land and sea. And...
BLITZER: There's movement we can see right now. The photographers getting ready to...
COOPER: Also on board this train have been, throughout this journey, have been 50 everyday citizens, people who the Obamas have met along the way, who have contributed to society in no way or another, who've been invited at various times to come into the car where the Obamas are. And we saw a video earlier of them talking to - with a number of people. BLITZER: I can only imagine how excited they have been to spend an entire day aboard the train, making its way from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. with stops along the way in Wilmington Delaware and Baltimore, Maryland. So the family will get off. They'll go over to Blair House. I don't know. Do we know what their schedule is for the rest of tonight? Just private events, is that it? Donna, do you have any idea?
BRAZILE: There's a couple of finance parties tonight that they may stop by, but...
BLITZER: When you say "finance parties", would that be the Senate Finance Committee you're talking about or some other sort of finance?
BRAZILE: It's the people who helped to raise the money and donors, special supporters. There's a nice little small party that he might attend tonight...
COOPER: Small party for big money.
BRAZILE: I have tickets and I didn't give a dime.
COOPER: All right.
BRAZILE: It's for people...
GERGEN: Donna, is there anything you don't have tickets to?
BRAZILE: I would like to have a seat closer in the inaugural swearing-in section, but I'm happy right now.
BLITZER: She taught us all a new word, David. I didn't know the word, for all those tickets and all those badges and all those all- access passes that you have. Donna, what's that word?
BLITZER: And how do you spell that?
BRAZILE: Well, it's c-h-u-m.
COOPER: Chum is normally a blood that's poured into water to attract sharks.
GERGEN: Chum is something you normally give to your boo, is that what you...
BRAZILE: I think my boo is well taken care of here. No, it's - Wolf, as you well know, as a DNC member, we are allotted one ticket as well as a guest ticket. And I had another source that I received another ticket. So I just kept asking so I can pass them out to all my friends. There's so many wonderful people, unsung heroes who want to be part of this historic moment. And I am glad to share them with family and friends from all across the country, including some strangers.
BLITZER: And you've worked really hard, Donna, over these many, many years to reach this point. So there's no doubt you're pretty happy about that?
BRAZILE: Very, very happy.
BLITZER: As we watch and we wait for the president-elect and the vice-president elect to leave this train, let's look ahead to one other issue that's going to be on the agenda as soon as Barack Obama takes office. And that's going to be Anderson, a story you covered recently. What's happening in Gaza right now. And we learn earlier today that there was a very important development.
COOPER: I believe Israel prime minister...
COOPER: ...is announcing that there is a unilateral cease-fire on the situation in Gaza. My understanding, and I don't have the latest information, so I just want to make sure we're right about this, but that they are going to stay on the ground for a little bit, but that they have announced a unilateral cease-fire. We don't have reaction yet from Hamas as far as I know. But this is obviously a major development in this conflict. A surprising development for some. The thought had been that Israel would not take part in any kind of cease-fire unless there was a complete cessation of rocket fire from Hamas. And clearly, that has not, at this point, occurred.
BLITZER: Yeah. So it's no doubt the Mideast and the Arab- Israeli conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that's going to be a headache for this president, as it's been I think for every president going back many, many decades. David Gergen, it's not going away, but it's not by any means the only national security issue out there. There's a lot of tensions with Pakistan - between Pakistan and India right now. Both nuclear-armed. And there's the hunt for al Qaeda and Bin Laden that's going along the so-called tribal areas in Pakistan. There's a war in Iraq. There's a war in Afghanistan. And there's always the threat of terrorism.
GERGEN: Absolutely. And one of the things that the transition team is trying to figure out is that this a president who wants to spend most of his time trying to bring this economy back to life. How does he apportion his time on foreign policy? How does he delegate? How does, you know, how much -- how does he engage the rest of the world?
BLITZER: The little girls.
BLITZER: We see the family getting ready to leave this train. It's been a long train ride, but a happy one for the Obamas. And there he is. I don't know if we'll hear anything. I don't think we're hearing anything. But Sasha and Malia are going out followed by Michelle Obama and then the Bidens. Let's listen in and see if we can hear anything.
All right, they're going to -- they're going to thank the personnel over at the Union Station before they get in -- you see the presidential limo right there. They'll get into one of those cars. And then the motorcade will whisk them over to Blair House. A little photo opportunity for the Blair - yes, I'm sure that these guys are pretty excited about what they've just done.
O'BRIEN: The longest trip ever from Philly into D.C.
BLITZER: Yeah. Normally it's about two hours, if that. They got on shortly after 10:00 a.m. this morning. And now it's approaching 7:00 p.m. Did we mention, Anderson, that we went on the air at 10:00 a.m. and it's now approaching 7:00 p.m.?
COOPER: It hasn't felt that long, though...
BLITZER: No. COOPER: ...it's just flown by.
BLITZER: And it's been exciting.
COOPER: It is truly a remarkable day. I mean, just the anticipation is building, obviously, towards Tuesday. But there is an excitement in Washington. I flew in this morning. And on the plane I was taking out of New York, you know, people were posing for photographs with each other. People just want to document every step of the way of this journey. And a lot of people tuning in today, no doubt, either considering themselves coming to Washington, D.C. or just watching it in other parts of the country or around the world. But everybody, it seems, wants to witness this. And so to be able to say that they saw it. They took part in it in some way. And...
BLITZER: A group photo shot. A group photo coming up, no doubt. He's thanking everybody. And you know, he like this is kind of stuff because he likes talking to, you know, the average guys out there who are working as hard as they possibly can to protect him, to make his life as comfortable as possible, given the enormity of the challenge. The burdens on his mind already. He's not even president of the United States. Everybody wants to chip in and try to help him make it a little bit easier, Donna.
BRAZILE: Absolutely. You know what impresses me about Barack Obama is that he's always an organizer. You saw just moments ago that he gathered up all of the offices and say, let's take a picture. Yeah, you know, he's an organizer. And that's what's so special about him. As the leader of the free world, that he's a people's person. He believes in the power of ordinary citizens. And you just saw him wanting to just shake hands and be a part of this moment. Not just as the next president, but as someone who enjoys being around good people.
COOPER: And that's the new limousine. BLITZER: Yeah, "the beast." They call it the beast, because it's beefed up. It's got all sorts of capabilities to make a smooth ride, but also a very safe ride. And it's leaving Union Station right now.
I'm going to be curious to see if we can see it as it goes by us on Pennsylvania Avenue and heads over to Blair House. I wouldn't be surprised in the next few minutes, Anderson, if we see that motorcade go along, zip right by us. We're way up atop the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue right near 6th Street Northwest. And that limousine, that motorcade could be going right by us.
O'BRIEN: It certainly looks like it, I mean, from below here.
COOPER: Yeah, all the traffic's behind us.
O'BRIEN: You can see the police lined up. They've stopped all the traffic so every indication is that...
COOPER: That's a wide shot. There you see the...
BLITZER: ...the motorcade leaving Union Station right now.
BRAZILE: He's actually -- that looks like the bridge over 8th Street near the CNN headquarters so...
BLITZER: The CNN Washington bureau is only a block away from Union Station. And so we're all very, very familiar with this part of the nation's capitol.
BRAZILE: They'll turn on North Capitol and then over to Louisiana Avenue, to Constitution, to Pennsylvania where we're...
BLITZER: Looks like he's got something. David, it looks like he's got all the trappings of a presidential motorcade already. It's -- as a reporter who's been in those motorcades a lot over the years, I can tell you when the president travels, there are a lot of support cars, including an emergency medical car that goes along just for the ride, God forbid, if necessary.
GERGEN: Absolutely. And sometimes they're decoy cars as well so nobody knows quite which one the president's in.
But it's amazing how quickly now he's going to be enveloped. He's sort of become part of the bubble. And that bubble is going to close around him.
COOPER: Our coverage continues. We're going to follow the future president on his way to Blair House. We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of this day. They are still holding traffic here by the Newseum. A motorcade has just passed by this area. They're on their way to the Blair House. We want to give you a sense of how you can participate on Inauguration Day if you're down near the Mall, near the West side of the Capitol. Let's check in with Tom Foreman with a unique thing, how to document that moment when Barack Obama swears in. Tom, what is this technology?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, Anderson, you're absolutely right. That moment is what all of this is about. And this is the technology that we're going to use to show you that moment. It's called Photosynth. It's a program that allows you to take dozens and dozens or hundreds or even thousands of photographs and electronically stitch them all together.
So if you have a tight picture like we have here of these statues on the plinth of the Capitol, and you back out, you can see the entire capitol. All of these individual photographs you can access.
So think about this. I want to go around to the front and show a young woman there with a camera the other day. If you're in the crowd and you have a little grab camera like this, or you have a high- quality camera, or your telephone or anything else and you're anywhere near the front of this capitol, when the moment occurs, when Barack Obama raises his hand to take the oath, we want you to take a photograph and send it to us at themoment@CNN.com, themoment@CNN.com. You can go to our web page right now CNN.com/the moment and read about how it works and how you can participate, but we really want you to get involved because the simple truth is let's say we have the conservative estimate, a million people out there. And everybody takes ten photographs. That's 10 million photographs. This moment could become, in an instant, the single most photographed moment in American history. And you can take part. Send us your photograph just like we had people today out there taking pictures of the final adjustments to the presidential seal in front of the White House today.
Your photograph can be part of this. You'll be able to see it on CNN.com. We'll put on the air within an hour or two of the event. It should be a unique 3-D experience like nothing you've ever seen before. We're really hoping all of you will participate. Themoment@CNN.com.
COOPER: Cool. Tom, thanks very much. If you want more information about it right now, just go to CNN.com/themoment, one word, to get information. But when you actually take the picture, you send it in to themoment@CNN.com.
BLITZER: Every major event that we've covered, we've introduced some new technology.
COOPER: That's right.
BLITZER: And this is part of that new technology that we're introducing. I think it's going to be, as you say, very cool.
COOPER: Yes, it should be. We'll see. BLITZER: The moment, it'll happen on Tuesday around noon Eastern. That's when Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.
Let's recap some of the major events that have happened on this Saturday. It's been a fabulously historic and exciting day. It started in Philadelphia earlier today. Philadelphia there the train getting ready to leave the Philadelphia station. Shortly after 10 a.m., Barack Obama delivered a short speech inside the train station before he boarded this Obama Express as we've dubbed it. I don't know if that's the official name, but certainly the name we've been using. He left Philadelphia station with the train heading towards Wilmington, Delaware. But there was a slowdown as they called it, a slow roll in a place called Claymont, Maryland. There you saw the train slow down. And in the back of the train Barack Obama was there waving to some folks who were told the train would slow down. They'd have a glance, an opportunity to get a quick picture to look at Barack Obama, to wave toward him.
And then you saw some video. These were live pictures we were showing from inside the train. People had gathered along the route, waving to the train, waving to Barack Obama as it made its way to the next stop along the -- this route, which will be Wilmington, Delaware.
And once they got to Wilmington, Delaware, that's where the vice president-elect was ready to come aboard, himself together with his wife Jill upon arrival. They were there. They got off and there, they reunited. The president-elect and the vice president-elect. And there's Jill Biden as well.
They've become very, very good friends, by the way, over the course of these several weeks. A few months now since they decided this was going to be the team going forward. And they beat John McCain in the presidency on November 4th.
After leaving Wilmington, they had another slow roll, as they called it, in a place called Edgewood, Maryland, between Wilmington and Baltimore. They slowed down there. About 1500 people or so gathered in Edgewood to try to get a quick glimpse of the president- elect and the vice president-elect. They were pretty happy to see those folks.
The train did not stop, just slowed down. And they did make a stop in Baltimore. And eventually they got off the train and they drove over to city hall in Baltimore, where there they were. They walked down the steps. They waved. And then Barack Obama had a chance to speak to the folks.
And then finally, the train made its way from Baltimore to Union Station here in Washington. Only a few moments ago, you saw them get off. And that was that.
What an exciting day it's been. And I want to thank all of -- Anderson Cooper, obviously, thank you. Thanks Soledad and everyone who's been here. Donna Brazile has been a terrific help as usual. David Gergen's worked really hard. John King was here earlier. He's got a big show starting tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. "State of the Union." You're going to want to see that. He has his interview with Barack Obama.
On behalf of all of us, thanks so much for watching. Don't go away, because our coverage of the Inauguration of the President-elect Barack Obama continues from Washington right after a short break.