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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

The Obama Express Continues South to Washinton, DC

Aired January 17, 2009 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): From Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty, through Wilmington, Delaware, the place the vice president-elect calls home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm asking Joe Biden to take one more ride to Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: To Washington, D.C., all aboard a history-making ride into the nation's capital with old school charm. We're live in the middle of it all.

(on camera): Good evening, everybody. I'm Don Lemon live here at the National Mall on an extremely cold night in Washington, D.C.

And you know what? In just a few days the world's attention will be on this very place. Right here is where millions of people from around the world will witness history. The first African-American president, Barack Obama, is being sworn into office.

But the excitement right now is just a few blocks away, inside a much warmer venue, Union Station where the 44th president to-be, his family and the family of his vice president, Joe Biden, just wrapped up a 137-mile train trip, an old fashioned whistle-stop tour, retracing Abraham Lincoln's inaugural route back in 1861.

It started in Philadelphia where the president-elect called for a new declaration of independence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I believed that our future is our choice, and that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together, Democrats, Republicans and independents, north, south, east, west, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, and straight and disabled and not, then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearn for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, you know what? They made a couple of stops, but the next stop from Philadelphia was Wilmington, Delaware, to pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden or Amtrak Joe as he is known by train employees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: I promise you we will not let you down. We have promises to keep, promises to our children and our grandchildren, promises to one another and, quite frankly, promises to the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: There were more crowds, thousands and thousands more people, more speeches, more greetings, even choirs in Baltimore. Take a look.

(CHOIR SINGING)

LEMON: They sound pretty good, despite the cold weather, frigid temperatures here in the Northeast. You know, the last stop was a quiet one, Washington's Union Station and that was just a few minutes ago. The president-elect and his family are leaving in a very presidential motorcade.

Well, you know, first, let's take a look at today's historic train trip from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., right here and here are a few special moments along the way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We are here to mark the beginning of our journey to Washington and this is fitting, because it was here in this city that our American journey began.

We're looking forward to our run. Are we going to go this way? OK. Let's go.

BIDEN: Happy Birthday, kid. Welcome to Wilmington.

I promise you we will not let you down. We have promises to keep, promises to our children and our grandchildren, promises to one another and, quite frankly, promises to the world.

OBAMA: We know that there's work to be done. Together we know that America faces its own crossroads -- a nation at war, an economy in turmoil, an American dream that feels like it's slipping away. Together we know that the American people are facing adversity, and that the time has come to pick ourselves up once again.

We'll see you at the next stop.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

OBAMA: When Joe and I were standing out there and you can toot the horn which -- you know, which you're never too old to think, this is fun.

(LAUGTHER) (MUSIC)

OBAMA: We are here today not simply to pay tribute to those patriots who founded our nation in Philadelphia or defended it in Baltimore, but to take up the cause for which they gave so much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It was a very busy day for the president-elect, the vice president-elect and their families. In fact, it was Michelle Obama's birthday today.

Joining us now from Union Station, the end of that 137-mile trip, is CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

Susan, they got lots of fanfare along the way, but it was a pretty quiet arrival there at Union Station.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it was quiet next to the train, but really inside Union Station, a lot of activity, a lot of noise from folks who knew that they would not even get a chance to see him. A lot of enthusiasm -- and I'm telling you, Don, these are people from all over the country, all over the world as well as some locals who are here.

Real quick, I want to get a sense -- you are from Georgia, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Georgia.

MALVEAUX: At?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right outside of Atlanta. I want to tell everyone hello and I'll be home soon.

MALVEAUX: Well, what does Obama mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you think back to Martin Luther King and my son, Barack really made a change to all of the federal laws and when I think about the Supreme Court justice that he might appoint and how it's going to affect my son over the next 50 years, that's what Obama means to me. The economy is important, but when he appoints the Supreme Court justice, it's going to change my son and all of our kids' lives for over 50 years.

MALVEAUX: I want to get to you, sir. You're from Ireland. Step forward here. How did you get here? How did you get here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm living here now.

MALVEAUX: You're living here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, right here.

MALVEAUX: And originally from Ireland. What Barack Obama isn't used to have a little joke in the campaign, he'd put an O and an apostrophe of Obama so to sound a little Irish as well. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right (INAUDIBLE) they're building the monument back (INAUDIBLE) for Obama. So, they built a housing project there and they built an Obama monument.

MALVEAUX: And, are you going to be standing out in the cold in part of the inauguration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll be at the Lincoln Memorial tomorrow night, I'll be there through the inauguration night.

MALVEAUX: OK, great.

And then I know you're from New Jersey?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Camden, New Jersey. Our high school band is competing to win a space in the parade here in Washington, D.C. I'm here to support them, I love them, I love Camden, my family in Camden, in Las Vegas, New York.

MALVEAUX: Where are you staying? Are you staying with them family?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) is here. He's here in a wheelchair, right there, he lives in D.C. and we're staying at his house.

MALVEAUX: And this must be a special moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, absolutely. This is the best moment of my life. This is the absolute reconstruction of the United States of America. We need this time. This is the best time any one can experience in this country. God bless America.

MALVEAUX: God bless America.

OK. I want to get real quick to a local here. Grant Ivy (ph), we've been talking here, he's from Maryland, and I understand that you're really excited. Tell me why.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because Obama's, I can tell he's going to be a great president, and I'm really excited of having him as our new president, and he's going to do good for this country.

MALVEAUX: Well, it sounds like you've done good, too, already.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I play a little bit of football and he inspired me to, like, know that my dreams can come true.

MALVEAUX: OK. Well, Grant, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Obviously, a lot of folks here who are anxiously awaiting for the inauguration, the participation, just to be here, Don. I mean, a lot of people who are just going to be sleeping on cots, they're staying with family, they're staying with friends, a lot of people don't even have tickets, but they're all here to share in this moment, Don.

LEMON: Yes, it's amazing, Suzanne. I was talking to people who got into town last night, people, really, from all over the world. We talked to people from Germany who had been here for a week, just anticipating the inauguration. Stick around, Suzanne Malveaux at Union Station. We'll get back to you in just a little bit.

But I want to go now to CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley. Candy made that entire trip from Philadelphia to Wilmington and she joins us live.

Candy, I was on the train just before you this morning and there were crowds already starting to line up in the cold. Tell me about your journey.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was amazing. Between Baltimore and Washington, it was pitch black. You couldn't see a thing except for you would go by places and you'd see the outlines of people waving. So, it was pretty amazing because we weren't exactly lit with, you know, strobe lights or anything as we went by. So, they couldn't have seen a thing.

But still, they were out there because, you know, they wanted to see that train and know that he was in it. It's taking part in history. If you're not going come into the mall and see him, it's their way of joining up, if you will.

LEMON: Yes. And, Candy, you know, we had a very surreal experience this morning. And it's the next story after you, but we were going down to Philadelphia to meet someone who made a pilgrimage across the country and riding the train, and a plastic bag got stuck in the train wheels and we had to stop for about 20 minutes. It started smoking, police everywhere.

I'm sure you witnessed major security along the way, but it was also -- it was interesting to see Barack Obama, Joe Biden and their families are getting very close to the people.

CROWLEY: Oh, absolutely. But remember, they -- the Secret Service has been with Barack Obama for almost two years. He got it pretty close to when he announced. It was certainly by the summer and he announced in February.

They have seen -- I mean, we've been through enormous crowds, Grant Park being the latest, but, I mean, early, early on in Austin, 17,000 people in an arena. You remember the convention, a huge number of people in an open arena.

So, they're used to this sort of thing. I will tell you, in Baltimore, when he was outside, he had bulletproof -- I don't know, whatever it was, it wasn't glass, but it was a bulletproof shields on both sides of him and you can see him because they're clear, but they're very -- you know, I can assure you that they went through every inch of that place. And as we went along, when we were by the Delaware River, the Coast Guard was in the river, obviously, watching, there were local cops all the way along the way, as well as any - you know, any kind, lots of security. They had Secret Service even on a different train that was nearby.

LEMON: Yes.

CROWLEY: So, they think these things out pretty carefully.

LEMON: Yes, they do, Candy.

It's interesting because, you know, whether I get on plane, train or automobile, and when people recognize me, I've sat on a plane next to an air marshall who said every single flight coming into the Washington, D.C. area had an air marshall at least one on them, and all of the trains, same things security, we saw security crawling this morning. So, very well-secured here with hundreds of police agencies helping out.

But I want to talk to you about this. You know, remember the cold day in Springfield when Barack Obama made the announcement. He is really -- Lincoln, he is really, this is a throwback. He's going back, he's taking lessons from former presidents and from times in history, and he's using it to bring it forward.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And, look, this is -- this is the imagery that they have wanted all along, to associate Barack Obama with Abraham Lincoln. And there certainly are, you know, ties, they are simply because they're from Illinois, they both worked at the statehouse in Springfield, that's where he launched his campaign. You know, he's read about Lincoln and the famous book we now keep talking about.

So they really like that image, but he's using it now to kind of push things forward. You really have a feel as we were moving through on the train, and he would get out and he would talk about history, but only in a way that propelled things forward. So it was -- here's what they did and here's what we must do. It wasn't like (INAUDIBLE) forefathers were wonderful and this is the truth that Lincoln took -- and in fact, I don't even know that he mentioned that.

I mean, you know, we knew and that was probably enough for them, but it was much more forward-looking, actually and also not a standard speed in such an uptime because you've always in a paragraph going, "Look, we're going to make mistakes, and there are going to be setbacks, and we're going to have to deal with that and move on." So, in keeping with what he's done the night he was elected, there are always a lot of warnings in what he does, whether it's a news conference or a speech, he's always saying, "Listen, things are not going to be so great."

LEMON: Yes.

CROWLEY: But, what he also wanted to do along this train trip was to keep that, Obama, you know, wind behind him feel. He knows that the people that were so excited and voted for him that he's going to need them coming up. So, this was another way to say ...

LEMON: Yes.

CROWLEY: ... listen, it can't end with my election. You've got to stick with me, and that's another reason they had this trip.

LEMON: Yes, we're going to be talking to and hearing from a lot of those people who joined you and him along the way. I've got to tell you, Candy, it was very interesting to look back while looking- forward, at least, looking-forward with the language that Barack Obama and Joe Biden spoke today.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley -- Candy, we appreciate it. Get some rest from the train.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: I think Candy is going to join us a little bit later.

CROWLEY: Yes.

LEMON: All right. Candy, thanks.

You know, we always want to know what's on your mind. We want you to join the conversation tonight. Make sure you logon to Twitter, to Facebook, to MySpace or iReport.com. Join our conversation. Tell us what you're thinking. We will get some of your responses on the air.

And you, too, can be a part of history -- we want to tell you -- because CNN is teaming up with Facebook to bring you complete coverage of the entire inauguration online. You can connect with and engage with other users while watching live inaugural events on CNN.com.

And on Tuesday, watch the historic swearing in of Barack Obama right here on CNN. Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, they both lead our coverage today, just because they were busy all day today doesn't mean that we're going to give them a day off on Tuesday or any time soon. Ten a.m. Eastern our coverage starts on Tuesday.

Well, they're all dressed up, and on their way to Washington.

(KIDS SINGING)

LEMON: That was just a dress rehearsal. I checked in with the inspiring kids from Atlanta's Ron Clark Academy. Believe me, you're going to be singing their song. A special live coverage from Washington, from the Washington Mall continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, you know, before the Obama Express rolled into Washington, I did the exact same journey just ahead of their train, and I wasn't alone. As you will see in the coming days, this inauguration will be about pilgrimages from across America and across the world. We'll share a very special journey with you just a little bit later that started with a letter to Oprah.

But first, I had to travel from Washington to Philadelphia to meet that young lady that you're going to meet, and along the way, we stopped in Wilmington and met someone who once had a close encounter with the future vice president of his now famous Wilmington to D.C. commute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT COLLETT, HAD CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH BIDEN: We're coming back from Washington on the train and he was on the train behind us and we didn't know that. He got off and we were lugging heavy bags, and he picked up one and he carried it here to the door, and I looked up and I saw it was the senator. I said, "Thank you, Senator. You're the best-looking nice guy (ph) I've seen in a long time."

LEMON: And what did he say?

COLLETT: He smiled and walked off. It was many years ago.

LEMON: Nice of him to help you with your bags.

COLLETT: Yes, sir. He's a very helpful man, very helpful man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We heard very nice stories like that all along the way. It was a very interesting ride and then in Philadelphia, actually in Wilmington, Krupali Tujura (ph). She and her mother traveled all the way from California to witness the inauguration. And by pure luck, she was able to get a pair of tickets from Senator Dianne Feinstein and really, some ingenuity on her part, and some stick-to-itiveness.

Together, we rode the train back to Washington and, you know, then we went to Senator Feinstein's office in Capitol Hill to pick up her tickets. We're going to have that story just a little bit later on.

But of all the people heading to Washington, few could be as excited as the kids from Atlanta's Ron Clark Academy and their very proud founder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON CLARK, RON CLARK ACADEMY FOUNDER: And thankfully, we're going to the inauguration.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It's like, I don't know if they're wired (ph) or something, but that was on Tuesday when they got the news that they'll be performing their song "Dear Obama" at four inaugural balls. I was with them as they prepared for that black tie affair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I was going to put on ...

CLARK: Your bow tie -- all right, let's do that. This is beyond my dreams for my students to be going to the inauguration and to be going to all of the balls and to be singing and performing, and just that they have such a light about them and to have some excitement about politics and history and what's going on now. It's great.

(KIDS SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: It's amazing. It's fantastic. I never imagined that we'd be going to the inauguration. It's hard for me to get sleep because I'm thinking, hopefully, really hopefully, we'll meet Barack Obama.

LEMON: What does it personally mean to you to be -- to have the honor of going to the inauguration for this?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: This is a big opportunity and this is, like, this is my first time actually getting to do something this exciting.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Barack Obama has done so many things that I am so proud of and he is like broken down doors for us.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Wow! We have our first African-American president and kind of like, you want to go back in time and relive it over and over again.

CLARK: They didn't care if I said we have to walk to the inauguration and we start walking. They said, "Let's get it, Mr. Clark." These kids are so excited to fly to Raleigh, drive six hours, bus, train, whatever, they don't care because they're going and they're going to be there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look good. You like it? Hey, James, what do you think? You can't stop smiling, can you? What do you think? He's checking himself out. Good. Good.

(KIDS SINGING)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: They are really cute. What a journey it has been for them already. They're flying here tonight and then driving from Virginia into Washington, D.C. So, I'm very excited for them.

We want to know what's on your mind and we want you to be a part of our conversation here on CNN. Make sure you join us on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or iReport.com. Tell us what you're thinking. We'll get your responses on the air. What do you want to know about the inauguration, or anything going here or any of the stories that we present to you?

It's time to talk about some other news in the world. Israel announces a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza. We'll keep tabs to see if that holds. Also, the latest from the miracle on the Hudson. New footage of that amazing crash. That plane being lifted from the water tonight. Investigators say it is in surprisingly good condition.

And, moving day comes on Tuesday, and the Bushes leave, and the Obamas enter, all in just a few hours, very coordinated. We'll tell you how it's done.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We know that there's work to be done. Together we know that America faces its own crossroads -- a nation at war, an economy in turmoil, an American dream that feels like it's slipping away. Together we know that the American people are facing adversity, and that the time has come to pick ourselves up once again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: President-elect Barack Obama speaking along his train tour in Wilmington today, Wilmington, Delaware, one stop on president- elect historic train ride right here to Washington, D.C.

We turn now to other news and it's the Middle East, and it's going to be one of the biggest challenges awaiting the president- elect. Tonight, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza. It took effect at the top of the hour and Olmert says the three-week Israeli offensive against Hamas has achieved its goals, but Israeli drops will remain deployed for the time being.

Incredible new images of Thursday's U.S. Airways' emergency landing on the Hudson River. These dramatic shots were released today by the New York City mayor's office. Take a look at them, the highlighted part there. A surveillance camera caught the plane skimming the surface of the water.

All of the passengers got out safely and waited to be rescued. Investigators say the plane is in better shape than they thought.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KITTY HIGGINS, NTSB: Yesterday we were missing two engines. Today, we're missing one because -- which is good. We've made progress.

There was one engine that was still, fortunately, attached to the plane, the right engine and that was -- we were told yesterday it wasn't there. We were told today by the divers that it was. So, that's good news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, investigators are still working to pull the plane from the river. Another NTSB briefing is scheduled for the top of the hour. We'll bring that to you if anything comes out of that.

Let's talk about countdown to history, the sights, the sounds, the crowds. We're following Barack Obama's journey to the White House. Plus, our John King asks the president-elect about the weight of history. You'll hear his answer just moments away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, we're back from Washington. I should say a very cold Washington, D.C., and you can see the capitol right behind me. There is excitement building here as we get ready for Tuesday's inauguration. It was just a few minutes ago, you know, President-Elect Barack Obama got off the train right here in Union Station and we showed you. Look how beautiful the capitol looks tonight. It was a 137-mile whistle stop tour from Philadelphia and the trip covered part of the same route Abraham Lincoln used on the way to his inauguration back in 1861. The president-elect waved to thousands of cheering supporters gathered along all those tracks from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. And CNN's Joe Johns talked to two of them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys came out to see Obama, right?

JAYDEN: Yes.

JOHNS: What's your name?

JAYDEN: My name is Jayden.

JOHNS: Jayden. And what's your name?

KAI: Kai.

JOHNS: Kai. All right, so where are you guys from? Turn around and look at the camera for me. JAYDEN: Edgewood.

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

KAI: Yes.

JAYDEN: Yes.

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

KAI: Seven.

JAYDEN: And I'm nine.

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

KAI: I think it's cool from him to become the president.

JOHNS: All right. Thanks, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Am I seeing double?

You know, the end of the line was right here in Washington, D.C. where the president-elect will take the oath of office on Tuesday and thousands of people will be watching from right here where I am on the National Mall. Our Suzanne Malveaux was waiting at Union Station where the Obamas and the Bidens arrived tonight and she joins us now live with a very big crowd.

Suzanne, where is your coat, young lady?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we got the good assignment here because we get to be inside instead of outside, like all of you guys. So we're not as cold as everybody else. But I tell you, there is so much enthusiasm and excitement here at Union Station, despite the fact that people knew they were not necessarily going to be able to see Barack Obama and his family. They did not. But, nevertheless, there are people not only from here, but from around the country, and around the world.

We want to really quickly get a sense. Sir, you are from Trinidad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trinidad.

MALVEAUX: You followed the election very well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I followed the election very closely. Yes, I wanted to be here, it's fun to be on CNN.

MALVEAUX: Well, it's fun to be on CNN. But tell me, why is this important to you? Why did you make that trip all of the way from Trinidad to be here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually I've been looking forward to him being sworn in, and for some reason I just want to be part of the history.

MALVEAUX: And I understand that -- go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, looking at it, Barack Obama the first black president, being sworn in, I really appreciate to being here.

MALVEAUX: Do you have any tickets to any events?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, but actually I have tickets to the ball tomorrow night.

MALVEAUX: OK, you've got your tux?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.

(LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: OK, I understand you're staying with your aunt. Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trinidad, originally, 42 years ago. And you live here now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, (INAUDIBLE)

MALVEAUX: OK, is it a little crowded in your house, right now, with all these visitors and your nephews?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a bit crowded, but to see Obama, it is important. What does it mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm glad to be alive to be here, in the time, history in the making. And just so proud to be an American, an African-American, to see Barack Obama and his family. It is such a joy. And such living examples for everybody, not only in America, but all over the world.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you so much.

Don, you heard it. A lot of excitement and really a good sense of the history, what this means to so many people from around the world, and also for people here in Washington making extreme sacrifices to make sure that people are taken care of, that they are well here, and that they'll have a good time. That they'll appreciate what is about to unfold in the next couple of days, Don.

LEMON: It's amazing, Suzanne. I didn't imagine experiencing so many people from so many different parts of the world coming here just for this event. So thank you very much for that. And we hope everything is safe.

So listen, we want to talk now about the president. The president who is still in office. President Bush is spending his final weekend at Camp David, and CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry joins us now from the White House.

Ed, we understand that the president-elect has a high-priority meeting planned for the day after the inauguration? Tell us about that.

ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good evening, Don.

It's interesting. It is almost eerily quiet here at the White House with the current president spending his final weekend in office at Camp David. But the incoming president planning a burst of activity here next week starting on Wednesday, as you mentioned.

He's going to call in all of his military commanders and basically tell them that he wants to talk about Iraq and that he wants to change the mission and begin implementing his policy. That campaign promise of pulling out all combat troops within 16 months. This meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff has really meant to send a signal to his liberal supporters that despite his heavy focus on the financial crisis during this transition, he is still serious about following up that campaign promise, about changing that mission.

And what's interesting is despite the fact that that will be a dramatic break from the current president's policy, they really have been getting along throughout this transition. Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama, in fact, in his farewell address from the White House in the East Room, just a few nights ago, Mr. Bush talked about the inauguration and spoke very warmly about Mr. Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Five days from now the world will witness the vitality of American democracy. In a tradition dating back to our founding, the presidency will pass to a successor chosen by you, the American people.

Standing on the steps of the capitol will be a man whose history reflects then during promise of our land. This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole nation. And I join all Americans in offering best wishes to President-Elect Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two beautiful girls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: So this is not personal. It's business, as they say, and Barack Obama planning to get down to business immediately next week once he's sworn into office. In addition to this meeting on Iraq, that I mentioned, and also aides telling us that he is going to be issuing probably several executive orders, including likely to have one that will close down the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, again, trying to show a clean break from the Bush administration in executing the war on terror. The whole approach to the war on terror all around the world, Don.

LEMON: All right, Ed. I've got to ask you this. You live here in Washington, D.C., is it always this cold?

HENRY: No, it's not, Don. I feel like I'm back in Chicago from the transition. And you know all about that. It's not usually like this, I promise. Come back and visit us.

LEMON: I know it is so cold, like, my mouth doesn't work the way it normally does. It's like frozen. All right.

HENRY: I get to go back into the White House now, while you get to stay outside, sorry.

LEMON: Don't rub it in, my friend. Thank you very much for that, Ed Henry at the White House.

HENRY: Thank you.

LEMON: No huge headlines here. It is cold, but what will it be like come inauguration day? We'll tell you in just a bit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the dry thing, so it doesn't really matter.

OBAMA: You know, this is this whole theory about wet and dry cold?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

OBAMA: It's cold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, it's cold.

OBAMA: This is Delaware, through here. You guys?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cleveland.

OBAMA: Cleveland?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

OBAMA: Where we just were, and had a wonderful time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. We were on the way to the airport.

OBAMA: You don't have to drive or go to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have skiing. They'll shut down the schools, everybody just panics. We have skiing in the mountains. You know, we have desert on one side.

OBAMA: Right, right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And on the other side of the river.

OBAMA: Do we have anybody from Montana in the parade?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have some members of the Crow Tribe.

OBAMA: Oh, good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: I can tell you, we did the very same thing today. That is the dining car. Barack Obama talking with passengers onboard the train as he makes his way from Philly to Washington, D.C. He arrived here just close to about 7:45 Eastern Time.

I want to go now to our Jacqui Jeras. Jacqui Jeras in the Weather Center.

Jacqui, these are Hottie Toe Warmers that I have in my hand here?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: How sweet!

LEMON: And then I also have toe warmers and I've got hand warmers.

JERAS: You are all set.

LEMON: And neither - no, I'm not, because it's not working.

JERAS: You do look cold. I hate to say it, but glad to see you're dressed appropriately. We'll have more tips on that in just a second.

You certainly have a right to complain a bit if you're out there for hours on end, as temperatures have been in the upper teens to low 20s throughout much of the day today. And you add in a little wind, and the wind chill indices even down into the single digits at times.

(WEATHER FORECAST)

JERAS: So, when you're looking at conditions like that and you're going to be out there for hours on end, we do have some cold weather safety tips for you. You'll want to dress in several layers of loose-fitting clothing. And you want to have it loose because it helps create some insulated pockets for you to help keep you warm.

Also don't just stand there, my friend, Don Lemon! You'll want to move around. Maybe do some jumping jacks whatever it takes to kind of help to get that blood kind of flowing and circulating for you a little bit. And you also, certainly want to take breaks if you can. So go in that live truck or that satellite truck, and take a few breaks.

And Don, play with me for a minute. I put you on the telestrator. Glad to see we've got the hat right there. Yeah, we've got the earmuffs I see there, my friend. A nice scarf, look, I see gloves, you've got those on. So, it looks like you've been listening and paying attention. Good deal.

LEMON: I have.

JERAS: You got the long johns on, too?

LEMON: I have to show you my new -- I've got to -- I do, actually. I do have several layers. And I've got to show you my new fancy ear -- I lost the 180s that go behind your head so I found these are called ear bags and all they do is go over your ear.

JERAS: It just hooks right on. LEMON: And it clips right on.

JERAS: Awesome. And that way it doesn't mess with your hair in the back, either, right?

LEMON: And then during the break. It doesn't mess up your hair, yeah, but it keeps your ears warm and that's very important.

JERAS: It is.

LEMON: There we go. And then it just pops right on.

JERAS: Thank you.

LEMON: I hope they get some business.

But we hope people stay warm, really, more than anything because it's very important. Jacqui Jeras, we appreciate that. Jacqui has been talking about the weather here in Washington, really around the country. It is gripping parts of our entire country and that isn't stopping some of you from sending in your Obama Express iReports. Here is Jagan Pularusetti (ph) -- and his pregnant wife, wow! They braved some of the cold weather to watch history roll past them. He shot this video in Wilmington, Delaware, just as the Obama Express rolled up in Wilmington, Delaware. What a sight.

And Roy Penman sends us this shot of the Obama Express, right in front of the Obama Express. We also have this iReport it is from Jay Bryant, you can see President-Elect Barack Obama and his wife waving from the back of the train. And CNN's own Adam Levine shows us some last-minute touch-ups to the presidential shield. You can see the White House in the background there. Very interesting.

Also ushering in the first family. The people you rarely see who make the White House a home for the first family.

And you think she's excited about the inauguration? Check this out. She traveled all of the way from California on pure adrenaline and -- I don't know, she just really wanted to get here. You don't want to miss her inspiring story. It's coming up in just moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHORUS SINGING: God, great God, worthy of honor and glory we stand here, behold forever, forever and ever, our God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. That was Baltimore, Maryland, earlier today. A little music along the whistle stop tour. The Morgan State University Choir performing today in Baltimore for President-Elect Barack Obama. And, boy, they sound really, really good.

Well, we've been asking for your responses tonight. And here's what some of you are saying by Facebook, by Twitter and also by Myspace. One person says, "Preparing for my pilgrimage tomorrow. Your stories, especially Ron Clarke kids, make me teary. Got to pack more facial tissues for them."

Then JMEDVM says, "Thank you, CNN. To be there for us finally glued to TV for a wonderful occasion. Hopeful and exciting, an historic president Obama."

Another person writes, "A huge thank you to you and CNN, the crew, for an outstanding job in the inaugural coverage. Truly outstanding."

Then the next person writes, "Following from the Dominican Republic, excellent work, congrats."

Excellent work for you guys for writing in. Congratulations for becoming part of the conversation. We want to know what's on your mind tonight. Make sure you logon to Twitter and Facebook. Of course, Facebook a big part of our coverage here for the inauguration. Myspace, iReport.com, tell us what you're thinking. We'll make sure we get some of your responses on the air.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You know, you too, can be a part of history. CNN is teaming up with Facebook to bring you complete coverage of the inauguration online. You can connect with and engage with other users while watching live inaugural events on CNN.com. And on Tuesday, make sure you watch the historic swearing in of Barack Obama right here on CNN, continuing coverage. Well, it started earlier today, leading up to the inauguration.

An American sports icon bears witness to presidential history. We're talking about Don King. Yes, that Don King. He will join me right here, live, straight ahead.

But first, ushering in the first family. Live picture of the White House now, as we tell you about the people you rarely see who make the White House a home for the family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Starting now, let's take up, in our own lives, the work of perfecting our union. Let's build a government that's responsible to the people. Let's accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable. Let all of us do our part to rebuild this country. Let's make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but just the beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Barack Obama speaking in Philadelphia, the start of the president-elect's historic train ride to Washington, D.C., today.

Inauguration festivities will get underway at the capitol Tuesday morning. And, at the same time, few people will probably notice a flurry of activity nearby. Gary Walters was chief usher at the White House. And that was a position he says is like being the general manager of a major hotel. I spoke with him recently about moving day at the White House and what the new first family should expect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY WALTERS, FMR. CHIEF USHER, WHITE HOUSE: We have moving vans that move up at the south portico on inaugural morning at about 11 o'clock. And there's one moving van that's to take the possessions of the current family out, and start to move the possessions of the incoming family in.

And that doesn't take place -- none of that takes place until 11:00 on inaugural day. There's no prepositioning of anything. The White House is the home of the president until the president leaves. And that doesn't occur until about 10:45 that morning when he leaves to go to the capitol.

LEMON: But if the first lady is saying I want to get some stuff done and I want to pack some stuff up early, then you'll assist?

WALTERS: The outgoing first lady?

LEMON: Yes.

WALTERS: Oh, absolutely. In this case, they've been here eight years. They knew four years ago they would be leaving on the 20th. This summer Mrs. Bush started making decisions as to packing up books and having them replaced by White House books. Later this fall she sent out a few things and I'm sure she sent out some of her summer clothes, and things like that.

But when you have a little closer time frame, and depending on how much things the Obamas bring, it's a pretty short span of time, six hours, to get that all done.

LEMON: Six hours? Big undertaking, usually for both families.

WALTERS: Tremendous, yes. And it's a tremendous undertaking for the resident staff. They have invested eight years in the family that's there, and gotten to know them personally. And in the morning of inaugural, they have an opportunity to meet with them and say good- bye. It's a very emotional meeting that takes place.

LEMON: That was what I was going to ask you. Is it emotional, people cry and hug?

WALTERS: Yes, absolutely.

LEMON: Do any of the first family stay in touch with the staff?

WALTERS: Absolutely. This president, of course, had been to the White House when his father was president. And when he came back as governor, he knew all the butlers, when he moved in as president he knew all the butlers by their first names. I'm glad to say he knew me by my first name. And so that happens. We stay in touch. Certainly the Clintons have been out, but Mrs. Clinton has just been down the street at the capitol. When she came back, she would call to mind the butlers and talk to them, and the various staff members that she knew.

LEMON: All right. You don't work there anymore, so tell us who is your favorite.

WALTERS: I don't have a favorite.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Come on.

WALTERS: Actually, it will be hard for a family to be nicer than the Bush family. George Herbert Walker Bush, 41, has been head of a marvelous family. They'll be people as nice. There have been people in the past that are nice, but there will never be anybody nicer.

LEMON: They just seem like down-to-earth, sort of down-home people, just their demeanor, even when he was president.

WALTERS: Well, I said if there's an Uncle Sam, there's an Aunt Barbara. Mrs. Barbara just enveloped everybody, and especially the resident staff. She took them in as if they were her own family.

LEMON: Let's talk about the Obamas. When they went to meet the Bushes right after the election, did they meet with the staff and talk to them?

WALTERS: Met with the chief usher. Chief usher at that time. That was actually the first conversation. The chief usher at that time would pass along briefing books to the first lady indicating floor plans and things that she possibly might want to consider for the move-in.

LEMON: So it was a change for Mrs. Obama to look around and say Oh, I might want to do this, or I might want to do that, and then talk to the chief usher about that. To give her an idea.

WALTERS: Certainly and the chief usher has started some six months before that putting together picture books that show the floor plans and where things are placed in the house.

LEMON: And giving it to them?

WALTERS: And giving it to her at the time and saying, what do you want to change?

LEMON: OK.

WALTERS: In this case, they had to choose where the two girls are going to sleep? What kind of beds they were going to sleep in? Or were they going to bring beds from Chicago? LEMON: Do you have any idea about what they chose?

WALTERS: No.

LEMON: Do you have any inside information?

WALTERS: No, I really don't. I chose not to have any because the Obama's - it's a private issue with the Obamas and they need to be able to trust the people that are there to know what they tell those people is going to be kept private.

LEMON: Any advice for the Obama family, any secret that you can share with them that will help them before they move into the White House or as they're making their transition?

WALTERS: Well, presumptuous for me to do that, but I would say the most difficult thing they're going to have to do is provide time for family.

No president or first lady coming into the White House realizes the demands on their time. They are asked to have 24 hours a day of their time taken with their duties.