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People on the National Mall Speak Out

Aired January 18, 2009 - 16:00   ET


ANDERSOPN COOPER, CNN: Just another family who is here. Again, it's really people from just about every where else. You do meet people from Washington who is just kind of caught up in the excitement as well but Washingtonians, you know, have seen this kind of events before but so many people from all around the country, Wolf. It's actually just great to be out the Mall. And you know, we can only imagine, as crowded as it is today, you can only imagine what it's going to be like on Tuesday.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes, it's already jampacked, Anderson. Thanks. We loved hearing from these people. We're going to come back to you. I want to hear more of their stories. What they are thinking. What's going through their minds as we await Barack Obama. He's getting ready to speak over the Lincoln Memorial. And you'll see and hear his remarks live.

Soledad, I'm getting e-mail from a lot of viewers out there wondering why aren't we showing some of the entertainers as they perform. And I just want to let our viewers know that HBO, our sister network, has the exclusive rights to the entertainment portion, although we'll be able to show the speeches of what's going on at the Lincoln Memorial.

HBO will be airing a special on that. Unfortunately, we can't show you Bono or Will.I.Am or Bruce Springsteen or some of the others, Jon Bon Jovi who performing, but you'll be able to see that, all of our viewers presumably if they want to see that, I think a lot of them do on HBO.

All right. Take a look at this, Soledad. I'm going to show your viewers right now, the Dr. Martin Luther King crowd in 1963 that gathered at the Lincoln Memorial. You see the Washington monument over there on the other end of the reflecting pool.

Now we're going to juxtapose that to what's happening today. And just give you a comparison of the crowd. This from the other end. You can see, this is the end coming from the Lincoln -- from the Washington Monument towards the Lincoln Memorial. You can see it looks like it was a bigger crowd then than it is right now. Although it's hard to tell because we're looking at it from two different ends.

One side from the -- from the -- 1963 from the Lincoln Memorial. The other side right now from the Washington Monument. Still pretty big crowds. Huge crowds on both days. What was the crowd estimate in 1963?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Over 250,000 people came out. And what was amazing, of course, the White House didn't want this march. They were afraid of this march. You know, you don't want a bunch of really angry people of color and others and poor people who come out and march for economic parody and economic justice. So the White House had tried to put the cabosh on the march. But the march went forward, over 250,000 people came out and the speech was a rousing success. It's the "I have a dream" speech as we know it.

But of course, that's not what it was originally called. It was called "Normalcy never again." Remember, though, 15 days later, the four little girls were killed in the church bombings in Birmingham. And people talked about how the elation was so high after that speech.

I mean, they felt they had been heard by america. They came for a protest. They had been heard. And then 15 days later, that was sort of the -- they felt the angry response to what was such a hopeful message. And so I think it bears repeating that the story of progress in this country and many countries is not a straight line where victory after victory and then you cross the finish line.

It's one of making progress and then setbacks and some progress and some setbacks. And it brings us to this moment with an African- American president about to take office. I think that's -- people look at that as this is one of those milestone steps.

Will there be setbacks and backward motion? Yes, definitely, because that's the history of progress and progress in this nation. But, boy, this is a milestone for people who thought we would never get from that 1963 picture to where we are today. We're a large number of folks have come out just for the concert before the inauguration. That inauguration is going to be jammed with people. That's an amazing picture.

BLITZER: That's 1963 for the Dr. Martin Luther King speech.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I hope a million seven come out because this is 250,000 people. So just imagine what 1,700,000 people would look like on the Mall.

BLITZER: I think maybe a million or two million could be here tomorrow -- excuse me, Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to participate and to watch.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right. And you know, you look at the pictures now. Don't forget, there's nothing going on the Mall right now other than the concert at the Lincoln Memorial. People are just coming down to the Mall to kind of check it out and get a sense of history, whether they are going to be there on Tuesday or not. And you are seeing these pictures of these -- of these huge crowds now. So I think that gives you some kind of indication of the enthusiasm behind coming down to watch what's going to happen here on Tuesday.

BLITZER: And the security is already obvious and very intense, as it should be. Making life a little bit more inconvenient, Hilary Rosen, but I suspect no one is complaining all that much.

ROSEN: I don't think people are very upset. I think people are very excited by the energy. You know, people from all across the country here. It's interesting. The -- there's always controversy in Washington about the crowd estimations.

O'BRIEN: And everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not just Washington.

ROSEN: Basically what people think are the park service, you know, as good a professional ladies and gentlemen they are have historically, if the administration was supportive of the effort, would beef up the crowd numbers, whereas with the Dr. King speech, many people thought that there might have really been twice as many people as the park service said. And we may see that here as well.

And, so, that reflecting pool and that crowd size, I think, is always subject to some -

BLITZER: All right. It looks like they are getting ready for Barack Obama to be making an appearance there at the Lincoln Memorial. Just take a look at the middle of your screen. You see Abraham Lincoln sitting there. And if you watch what's going to happen below those majestic steps leading up to the Lincoln Memorial, it's going to be Barack Obama.

He's going to be speaking there. It looks like they are making the final preparations getting ready for his speech. And as we do, Soledad, I know you got an e-mail from a friend of yours in Africa who wrote some beautiful thoughts. And I wonder if you want to share some of those thoughts with our viewers.

O'BRIEN: He said the excitement of this historic moment is being celebrated in my small village in the middle of nowhere in Tanzania. I talked to my mother today. And she says every time she hears Barack Obama's name, tears roll down her face, tears of joy and happiness. It talks about the celebration happening in a rural village in Tanzania.

I mean, that is the message. That is what Barack Obama has been able to embody. Not just for African-Americans, and not just for people -- for everybody. For white Americans, for black Americans, for people of color, for foreigners in this country, for people outside of this country. The idea that his election -- they are celebrating while we watch this concert. They're celebrating in a rural village in Tanzania is quite a remarkable thing.

BLITZER: And they are watching our coverage here on CNN and CNN International, Steve in more than 240 countries around the world. They'll certainly be watching in huge numbers on Tuesday, but I suspect they are watching in very big numbers outside of the United States right now because a lot of folks around the world, not only in Africa but in Europe and in Asia, South America, they are pretty excited as well.

STEVE: Well I think that's right and I go back to what Soledad was saying just a minute ago. You know this is truly a moment for our country. It's truly a moment for the United States. But undeniably, it's a moment for the world. And it's I think one of the reasons that you see people in villages in Tanzania paying such close attention.

It's one of the reasons why I think you see, you know, people who didn't agree with Barack Obama when he campaigned being so caught up in the moment. Being excited by this moment in history, given all of the things that we've been through as a country in terms of race relations. You know, other kinds of strife with Martin Luther King's speech.

To get to this point, it's exciting no matter who you are. It's exciting for the people who are going to oppose his policies on Wednesday. It's still an exciting moment.

BLITZER: And I want to tell our viewers what they are seeing. You see the first row over there at the Lincoln Memorial. Closest to all of us. Joe Biden, the wife of the Vice President-elect followed by Joe Biden and then you can barely see Barack Obama, his two little girls and then at the end of that row, Michelle Obama. They there are. They are in a protected area, glass enclosed area where it's not only protected but it's, I'm sure, a lot warmer than it is. They've got heaters that they've built in, as not only for them but for other VIPs that have a great seat over there.

Pretty soon Barack Obama is going to be introduced to hundreds of thousands of people. In fact, I think he's being introduced right now. He's walking over to the microphone. So you know what, we're going to listen in and watch.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Hello, America. I want to thank all the speakers and performers today for reminding us through song and through words just what it is that we love about America. I want to thank all of you for braving the cold and the crowds and traveling in some cases thousands of miles to join us here today.

Welcome to Washington. And welcome to this celebration of American renewal. In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes. They are worried about how they'll afford college for their kids or pay the stack of bills on their kitchen table.

Most of all, they are anxious and uncertain about the future, about whether this generation of Americans will be able to pass on what's best about this country to our children and their children. I won't pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year. It will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts. And days that test our resolve as a nation.

But despite all this, despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure. That it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live on in our time. What gives me hope is what I see when I look out across this Mall. When these monuments are chiseled, these unlikely stories that affirm our unyielding faith, a faith that anything is possible in America, rising before us stands a memorial to a man who led a small band of farmers and shopkeepers in revolution against the army of an empire. All for the sake of an idea.

On the ground below is a tribute to a generation that withstood war and oppression. Men and women like my grandparents who toiled on bomber assembly lines and marched across Europe to free the world from tyranny's grasp. Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a king and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character's content.

And behind me, watching over the union he saved, sits the man who in so many ways made this day possible. And yet, as I stand here today, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us but what fills the spaces in between. It is you. Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there.

The same thing that gave me hope from the day we began this campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago. A belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another, bring everybody together, democrats, republicans, independents, Latino, Asian and Native American, black and white, gay and straight, 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.

This is what I believe. You made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. As I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day when I walk into that Oval Office. The voices of men and women who have different stories but hold common hopes. Who ask only for what was promised us as Americans, that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did.

It is this thread that binds us together in common effort. That runs through every memorial on this Mall. That connects us to all those who struggled and sacrificed and stood here before. It is how this nation has overcome the greatest differences and the longest odds. Because there is no obstacle that can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change. That is the belief with which we began this campaign, and that is how we will overcome what ails us now.

There is no doubt that our road will be long. That our climb will be steep, but never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease but by the right we do when the moment is hard. I ask you to help reveal that character once more. And, together, we can carry forward as one nation and one people the legacy of our forefathers that we celebrate today. Thank you, America. God bless you.

BLITZER: All right. Anything is possible in America. The theme of Barack Obama speaking at the Lincoln Memorial, returning to his family, returning to the Vice President-elect and Jill Biden. He says he's as hopeful as ever that that dream will endure. He spoke of a celebration of American renewal. A short little address, short speech.

We're going to assess what we just heard and continue our special coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama right after this.


BLITZER: Huge crowd at the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. You can see both sides of those reflecting pool leading up to the Lincoln Memorial jampacked. Thousands and thousands of people, we don't know how many exactly. Some estimates hundreds of thousands gathered there. You just heard Barack Obama deliver an upbeat -- an upbeat little speech in which he pointed out that anything is still possible here in America.

And Dana Bash, our congressional correspondent, is up on Capitol Hill right now. Dana, a lot of people are looking ahead to what we're calling the moment, noon Eastern, on Tuesday, when he's sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. And you've got -- some unique advantages over all of us because you are there and you can show us a little bit more about that upcoming moment.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I sure do. You know, these are steps that you see behind me that I actually walk up every day to get to work, to work in the capitol and cover Congress. But, boy, does it look different right now as they prepare for this moment in just under two days.

I want you to look behind me. Because this is where it's going to happen. This is the setup where the podium is going to be where Barack Obama will actually have the oath administered to him. In fact, he will do it, I should actually tell our viewers, that will not be the first oath we will see.

The first oath we will see, and this is very, very detailed already to the minute, will be at 11:46. And that will be Joe Biden. He will have the oath administered to be the vice president of the United States. That will be done by Justice John Paul Stevens. Then at 11:56, that is when Barack Obama will be administered the oath and that will be by the chief justice of the United States. That, of course, is John Roberts.

And then right after that, that is when he's going to hear the song "Hail to the Chief." Well, that's the first time he's going to hear that song and then we're also going to hear a 21-gun salute after that. Now this is certainly a fascinating look at the setup here. You'll certainly will have dignitaries behind him. You will have all members of the Supreme Court. You will have Senate and House leaders, of course.

George Bush and Dick Cheney and their spouses. But I also want to show you what Barack Obama and everybody up here will be looking at because it is quite a scene. And that is the Mall. The National Mall. You are looking at it now. There you see empty chairs and you don't see it quite filled out. But as we have been talking about all weekend long, it's going to be absolutely packed.

And you can see from here all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial where Barack Obama actually is right now for the concert, it is expected to be packed with people. You are looking at about two miles there, Wolf, two miles that he's going to be able to see. An absolute sea of people who will be here to watch him get that oath and also, of course, to give his inaugural address, which will happen shortly after he actually puts his hand on that Lincoln Bible. The Bible that was used by Abraham Lincoln and take the oath of office.

This is actually, believe it or not, only been done here on the west front of the Capitol since Ronald Reagan in 1981. So this is the seventh inaugural that will take place here on the west front of the Capitol. So it's certainly even though it seems like we've been watching this for a very long time this, whole kind of celebration and event hasn't really been going on in this way much longer than 20, 25 years or so.

BLITZER: Yes, Ronald Reagan apparently wanted to make sure they were looking out west to his beloved California. That's why he moved it out there to the west side of the U.S. capitol. Are they all finished, Dana, with all of the renovations, all the work, all the construction, the carpentry? Is that all done?

BASH: The bunting is up. They are absolutely still working on the last-minute preparation. One thing that's interesting. You probably can see behind me, you see the glass, which, of course is protective glass for everybody who is going to be up here. but you don't see the podium yet. The podium is not up there yet. So that probably is going to be one of the last things that they actually construct and put up to get ready for the big day on Tuesday, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Dana, we'll be there with you, of course, every step of the way. I want to go to John King, our chief national correspondent right now. He's here at the newseum(ph) where we are but he's inside.

Soledad, you'll be happy to know he has his magic map with him inside. And I know we're trying to capture the moment as we're calling it, John, in a very unique way for all of our viewers in the United States and around the world.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're going to try to do it, Wolf in a ground-breaking way. We need the help of our viewers. Anyone watching today who is going to be out there on the Mall, anywhere close to the west front capitol. We need your help.

And I want you to hold that picture for a moment. We'll go back to that west front where Dana just was a moment ago. But I want you to walk through this with me. I'm going to show you exactly what we mean. Just moments ago, Barack Obama was where? Well, he was here at the Lincoln Memorial for that concert this afternoon.

There you see the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Looks just like a snapshot. Looks like you might have taken that if you were there as a tourist. Well, I'm going to come out now and show you what this actually is. More than 100 photos here have come in. This is an example we want to show you.

More than 100 photos of the glorious Lincoln Memorial. Here we have them right here. This is called Microsoft Photosynth. This is the technology we will use tomorrow. Let me show you how this works. Here's a picture, a very tight picture of the 16th president right up there. Let's come back out and check it out. You see this here? I'm going to zoom out a little more. More of those photos are being added to the collage here.

We come out a little bit further, even more of those 100-plus photos you saw. Now you san see the columns on the side. You see the words overhead. A little bit of depth here.

Let's come out one more time and now you see some tourists up there as well. We can come from this moment and we can turn to the side and you can see what President Lincoln would see if he could look to his right in that glorious monument or over here what he might see if he would look to his left in that glorious monument. And we can come left and we can see some more. Now, we can come left and see more still.

You see one of the grand columns here. and we keep coming around this multidimensional image. And you see right here on the wall. There are some words here. Remember in our interview, Barack Obama talked about going to the Lincoln Memorial. Here is the second inaugural address that Barack Obama talked about with his daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Malia made a joke to him that this better be good. she said to her father, the president-elect. Look at all these photos together and this is what happens. When you take all of these together, you get the collage I just showed you. I want to come back out. Maybe we can bring up to our viewers the picture again of the west front of the Capitol and explain why it's so important.

When Barack Obama puts his hand on that bible and puts his hand up and starts to take the oath, what we want is anyone who can see that site, no matter your angle, whether you are directly in front, whether you're off to the side, whether you're way up close or whether you are way back by the Washington monument, take a picture. Take a picture and then send it in to us. If it's a phone, send it in through your phone. If you can e-mail it, e-mail it to

And when you send all those pictures in, what we will do and we'll come back to the board now, what we will do is we'll take all your pictures and we will just like this, we will take each and every one of them and we bring them all together. The computer program can pick out points. Let me show you how.

You see the pedestal here is in this photo. Well it's in this photo, too, but from a different angle. And it's in this photo from a different angle. The program, Photosynth, picks all those common points of data, puts them all together and allows us to go from one photo to further out to all these photos and to take the hundreds and we're hoping for thousands from the event tomorrow and to do just what we do here. Create a multidimensional collage so that we can show you the moment that Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States from every angle using your help. Wolf and Soledad, it's great technology but we need some help to make it perfect tomorrow.

BLITZER: You know, it's going to be amazing, John. And Soledad and I were talking. The three-dimensional part of this that -- once we get all those thousands and maybe tens of thousands of photos and then put them all together in this new technology, what they'll be able to do, it will capture that moment.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it should be a pretty amazing way. Especially, depending, if you can get thousands of people or you can get a million people sending in their one shot. Imagine you'll get layer upon layer and then you'll be able to do as he was showing you know, the turnaround, the president's view, the new president' view out to the crowd. I mean, it really -- technology is a remarkable thing. It's actually -- technology has been where all the comparisons to Lincoln and MLK have ended. Because the technology now today is so much further ahead. And so you know, what we can do is amazing.

ROSEN: Maybe Malia will send in her picture.

BLITZER: Yes. The concert, by the way, is now over at the Lincoln Memorial. There you see Barack Obama, he's thanking some of the people who participated. He's walking down the line. Obviously, the future first lady knows that individual. I don't know who it is. But I'm sure a lot of viewers would be interested to know because they are old friends. She gave him a good hug. But he knows a lot of these people who came to Washington to participate. Is that Jon Bon Jovi?

ROSEN: Sure looks like Ashley Judd next to him. Laura Linney was the first in line there.

BLITZER: It's pretty exciting to see all these entertainers. You see all the way to the right, Bono.

O'BRIEN: Shakira right there.

BLITZER: Is that Shakira? Where's Shakira?

ROSEN: Right there next to Bono there.

O'BRIEN: Fixing her hair before her shot.

BLITZER: Hilary Rosen, help us who is some of these people are.

O'BRIEN: Marisa Tomei is right there.

BLITZER: That's right. There's Marisa Tomei. Right there, she's shaking hands with the president-elect right now. So they are thanking the entertainers. I think Jon Bon Jovi was pretty excited. Right now, what do you think, Hilary?

ROSEN: Well, Jon Bon Jovi is sort of the perfect anthem singer. And so when he embodies kind of rock 'n' roll America. This is a great -- this is his music is perfect for this kind of a moment.

O'BRIEN: And Shakira getting a moment to chat with the president- elect. Looks like Bono's turn is up next.

BLITZER: Yes. Bono is right there. And he's there with U2 and they performed as well. And I just want to remind our viewers, our sister network, HBO has the exclusive rights to all the performances. And you're going to be able to see that later on HBO. Unfortunately, we couldn't show it to you. We did have the pool cameras up there for the speeches of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. So we do the best that we could do under these circumstances at an event like this. And, obviously, it's a pretty, shall we say, cool thing.

ROSEN: You know, Wolf, we did broadcast his speech. And he -- and he did -- it was interesting to me because he paid homage to both Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln in a very short time. He talked about your character's content and he talked about Lincoln. And then, of course, he said, as he has during the entire past two years, but, of course, this isn't about them, and it isn't about me, but it's about you.

MALVEAUX: He often, you know, rephrases well-known quotes. You do one of those, I've heard that before -- who said that the first time around? At one point he said no obstacle can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change. He said that before many times. But that's the resonance of the no army is more powerful than the -- than an idea whose time has come. That's the same timing --

BLITZER: Stevie Wonder and Barack Obama they just hugged. Obviously, an exciting moment for both of them. We'll take a quick break and continue to watch Barack Obama at the Lincoln Memorial right after this.


BLITZER: The National Mall here in Washington, D.C. it's going to be jam packed on Tuesday. A lot of people near the Lincoln Memorial right now. Scattered individuals walking elsewhere near the Washington Monument heading toward the U.S. Capitol. Suzanne Malveaux is over at the Lincoln Memorial. She was there during the concert. Barack Obama still there thanking some of the performers who, obviously, are very excited to see and meet with him. Suzanne, what was it like?

MALVEAUX: What really struck me, Wolf, was how amazingly consistent Barack Obama is in his message. He has always talked really since I covered the campaign a year ago about this idea that you can be better than yourself, be a part of something bigger, change your country. Even change the world. It's the same message that he delivered today. Take a look behind me, Wolf. Just want to give you a sense here. You saw Barack Obama just shaking hands, thanking some of the performers there. Really an interesting mix of people.

We saw up at the front the -- some of the cabinet members or those he hopes to be in his cabinet. Tim Geithner for treasury and Eric Holder for attorney general with their kids, just kind of laughing, joking, milling around. We just saw Blair Underwood, the actor, taking pictures just like everybody else right out here on the mall. You can see hundreds of thousands of people who were here earlier today. Really an incredible mix of people. One of the highlights, when some of these performers you had Garth Brooks when he was singing "You Make me want to Shout" and you had all this people in this audience jumping up and down saying shout, shout at the same time. It was really quite incredible.

Then there was a moment when you had Bono who sang "The Name of Love" for Dr. Martin Luther King, let freedom ring, let freedom ring, a lot of people on their feet and then Barack Obama as well up on his feet. And one of the few times you had Stevie Wonder and Shakira Usher all singing together, kind of a trio, kind of a mix here if you will, a party, a celebration and also an inspiring message. Once again, a message that really resonated with a lot of people on the campaign trail and really built what was considered a movement for folks when they got on board with Barack Obama.


BLITZER: Yeah, we are seeing Barack Obama, Tom Hanks right now -- we were seeing them. If you look closely, you can see Tom Hanks right in front, at least a second ago, of Barack Obama. Suzanne Malveaux she is one of the lucky people because she was over there at that concert. How cool, Soledad is that. Jeff Toobin is here with us right now. He's watching. You are looking at this. You say, don't you wish you were there, Jeff?

JEFF TOOBIN: I want to be right here with you, Wolf. No, this is great. This is -- you know, what struck me in my brief time here so far is that there's kind of a paradox going on. There's this euphoria about Barack Obama's inauguration. No question about that. Yet at the same time, Obama himself is saying, wait a second. This is not going to be so easy. And I am -- I think as we move forward and the euphoria fades, Obama may be having to say this more and more often.

ROSEN: I think that Barack Obama has been doing this sort of lowering the expectations, keeping the rhetoric down, since election night. Virtually ever public speech he's made has started out with the challenges and with the tough times.

BLITZER: Not only months to come, but years to come. I think that's a relatively new addition. Guys hold your thought for a second because we want to take another break. Anderson Cooper is still down there on the National Mall. He's got some special guests. We're going to check in with Anderson right after this.


BLITZER: There it is the National Mall, the Washington Monument, you saw the Lincoln Memorial. I don't know if Barack Obama is still greeting and shaking hands with some of the performers up on stage. We just saw that a little while ago. Pretty amazing concert. I should say our sister network HBO will be broadcasting that concert. They have the exclusive rights. We did hear the remarks from Barack Obama as well as from Joe Biden.

Anderson Cooper is down on the mall with a group of people who have come in not only from the United States but from around the world. They just want to be there. Anderson, as much as they love you, I don't think they came to see you. They came to participate in this historic event.

COOPER: They certainly have. It's amazing when you are out on the mall, just the sheer sweep of it. If you are not from Washington, D.C., you not familiar with it, I just want to give you a sense for Tuesday how filled this is going to be. We're basically around Sixth Street or so. There's the west front of the capitol. You can see if the jib just goes up where the inauguration will actually be taking place far in the distance. And then if Jim just turns around, there's going to be people basically all down through here, down past the Washington Monument all the way to the Lincoln Memorial.

It is just going to be an incredible sea of people here. And, already, all day, all around this area, people have been walking around. They've had a jumbo tron so they've been able to watch a lot of the concert. But a lot of people didn't really kind of stand around and watch the concert, when Barack Obama spoke, everyone around here just stopped and watched in silence. There's a real community feel. I want to talk to some of the folks in the crowd. Where have you come from?

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: I'm a Washingtonian, but I live in Maryland.

COOPER: You are basically decked out with Obama paraphernalia.


COOPER: What do you got? You've got an inaugural flag.


COOPER: You have a bag here that contains the whole first family.

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: I think this will be great for my future generations.

COOPER: Have you ever seen Washington so excited?

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: No, this is the most exciting time I've ever seen in Washington in my whole life and I'm a Washingtonian.

COOPER: I'm glad you got -- are you going to be getting some more things?

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: You bet. And I love watching you on TV.

COOPER: You guys are from Florida?


JILLIAN JOBE: Jillian Jobe.

KELSHEY SHILLENBERG (ph): Kelsey Shillenberg (ph).

COOPER: Why did you want to be here for this?

JOBE: We wanted to be a part of history and to get to witness the inauguration. COOPER: You are 13. Have you ever followed politics before?

SHILLENBERG (ph): Not as much as this year. Definitely not as much as this year.

COOPER: On inauguration day you want to be on the mall. You want to be right here?

JOBE: Yeah.

COOPER: Why do you want to be here?

SHILLENBERG (ph): I kind of want to look back on this and tell my grandkids about this. That I was actually there for the first black president. It's an historical day.

COOPER: And today, what's it been like out here. What's the atmosphere like?

JOBE: Everyone is really excited. I can tell like all my friends, too, like everyone I pass is just super excited about Obama, super excited to be here.

COOPER: How many people here are actually from Washington, D.C.? Not many. How many people are actually from somewhere else? All right. So there you have it. A lot of people -- most people from somewhere else. But again, no matter where they came from, they just wanted to be here. And it's been a great day. It's been, even for those folks who weren't able to go to the concert or see the concert it's been incredibly exciting.


BLITZER: It's great the weather warmed up a little bit, too, making life easier for all these people who want to participate in this historic event. We're going to check back with Anderson, we will take another quick break and continue our coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our coverage from the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. We're getting ready for the inauguration of Barack Obama on Tuesday at noon Eastern. That's when he'll be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. And Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 47th vice president of the United States.

Nothing left on his official schedule for Barack Obama. At least on this Sunday. He had a pretty exciting day, Soledad, beginning over at Arlington National Cemetery where he laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown and then he continued, went to church services with Joe Biden, wrapping it up over at the Lincoln Memorial.

O'BRIEN: It's been kind of a full day.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about the remarks he delivered right now because they were pretty significant. Short but to the point.

O'BRIEN: And also kind of on a down note. We saw that on the train ride, over the last couple of weeks. Very much let me set expectations for you people cheering, partly because of the wonderful concert. Partly because I'm about to be sworn in as the first African-American president. But we have to be real about the issues this country faces. I got the sense right away from his demeanor, his tone, his pacing, let's bring it down a little bit. He went to list the litany of problems. It's not a couple of months. It could be a couple of years. That's a solemn warning.

BLITZER: I hope it's not as long as FDR and the great depressions but that was 10 or 15 years before the country got out of that.

BORGER: But he understands that expectations are so high for him. What he has to do right now is say to people, have patience. And people do have patience but he also said Soledad that while he said we have these challenges we have to confront he also said despite the enormity of the task, I stand here as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will prevail. So there is that dose of hope.

O'BRIEN: He's got -- he's the candidate who ran on hope. He's got to come back to hope.

BORGER: You have to have hope when you are getting ready to assume the presidency.

TOOBIN: We are the ones who are always saying he's the first African- American president. He never says it. He makes an explicit reference. It's always about other people, never about him, which is what I think they should do. It's not about the citizens. He knows he's going to say it, but it is interesting how those words never seem to pass his lips.

O'BRIEN: A person who couldn't happen anywhere else but it's an impossible candidacy. Probable on a -- just look at the early pictures that we showed today from 2003 when he was in the state senate. It wasn't all that long ago to have come so far but improbable because he's an African-American. That's that code word. That, we all get what you are saying here.

ROSEN: I think you also see it in reflected in these speeches, which is while the country is celebrating, while everybody is giddy with change, he feels pressure. He is feeling the enormity of the moment and he is feeling the expectations. And he's wearing them, I think a little more seriously than other people.

BLITZER: But the chief justice will be swearing him in as the next president of the United States. Right?

TOOBIN: His first time. John Roberts has never had the opportunity. William Rehnquist alling with cancer managed to come down the steps. It was a very dramatic moment four years ago. But John Roberts is only the 16th chief justice. We've had 44 we soon will have 44 presidents. So even though Barack Obama and Joe Biden voted against the confirmation of John Roberts, Roberts has the satisfaction of knowing in all likelihood he will outlast this administration and several more during his long tenure.

BLITZER: But the people that Barack Obama nominates to be -- to join the Supreme Court, they will be there; presumably they'll be in their 40s or 50s. They could have an impact on all of us for the next 30, maybe even 40 years.

TOOBIN: When you think about George Bush's second term, not a lot went well for him. I think it's safe to say. But two things that went very well for him were John Roberts and Samuel Alito. He got two very conservative justices confirmed. Both in their early 50s. Both likely to serve for many decades and you can be sure that all the liberals in the judicial world can't wait for a supreme court justice to resign so Barack Obama has a chance to nominate.

BLITZER: But even if some of the more liberal justices, Hilary, resign, they are relatively old right now. They'll be replaced by people a lot younger and they'll have that impact for decades to come.

ROSEN: And there's a big question as to whether, in terms of the big social issues of the day, whether Barack Obama will get a chance to appoint a chief justice that sways the court back to a more liberal ideology. And the lower courts are significant here. George Bush has now appointed almost half of the -- half of all of the federal judges. So this is a Republican conservative tilt on the courts for many years to come.

BLITZER: Gloria, what about the tone so far that we've seen. All of the inaugural events, the train ride yesterday, what we've seen today. Is this the way it's supposed to be?

BORGER: Well, I think it's the way Barack Obama would have it, which is to understand the solemnity of the moment, to understand the importance of the moment. To not promise too much but to be full of promise. Which is exactly what Obama's campaign was about, and to have in the end, as Soledad was saying before, to give the American people hope.

And if you look at public opinion, the American people are saying we understand these problems are going to take time, we have patience and right now, we have faith in Barack Obama as a leader. That's the way he likes it.

O'BRIEN: And brings back the history of the moment, too. All that we've seen, all the Lincoln symbolism, some of it very subtle. Some not so subtle in the shadow of Lincoln. At one point he said in his speech in the concert, watching over it, the man who made it possible. Man who made it possible because he managed to keep the states from -- he made it possible because he freed the slaves. Take from it what you will. That vague throwback. Take back from that reference whatever you want. But back to the historical reference of where we are in time. That allows you to say, so be patient, people. Remember where you are in the spectrum of time.

BLITZER: Jeff, look how beautiful this picture is as someone who has been in Washington for a long time. I still can't get over how majestic and inspiring the National Mall is. TOOBIN: And that perfect line. You know the line that goes directly from Lincoln -- the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument. I always thought it was interesting that Lincoln has a memorial but Washington has a monument. Lincoln is a person that we can still sort of think about and identify with. A human being, whereas Washington is a more distant figure going all the way through to the capitol.

And it will be interesting to see if that space is all filled. Frankly, I think some -- the discussion of crowds may scare some people off. And I'm not sure whether it will be all full.

O'BRIEN: But the history, the moment of history. There's no question the history. So many people want their children to experience it. I was telling this. My 6-year-old daughter said the other day. So he's the first black president? I said, yeah, the very first. There's never been a black person -- she cannot imagine a time -- that that was -- and I love that because that's a generational shift. But that's unimaginable.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about what's coming up here on CNN because we've got a lot of exciting coverage in connection with the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States. Don Lemon is standing by. He's going to continue our coverage right at the top of the hour.

Later, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, John King will be back with the "State of the Union," a one-hour special report he has coming up at 9:00. There will be a live "Larry King Live." Larry is in Washington and has some major guests lined up.

I'll be back at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for another special report on the inauguration of Barack Obama. I'll be here at the museum. We'll be covering everything going on and give you a complete wrap-up of what's happened on this historic Sunday, the Sunday before the inauguration.

Tomorrow, "American Morning" will be up on -- will be reporting from here in Washington. John Roberts will be here. Kiran Chetry will be here. And then at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, Soledad, you will be here for all-day coverage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s national holiday. And at noon you'll do something very special.

O'BRIEN: We're going to play the entire "I have a dream" speech. That's what we know it as. We've had permission from the family to play the entire speech, 17 minutes long. It's a remarkable speech. I think most people haven't had a chance to hear it. Sit down in front of your TV and get a chance to really see something historical if you missed it the first time or saw it the first time, come and watch it.

BLITZER: I'll be coming up right after you tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow "The Situation Room." We want to thank all of you for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Stay with CNN for continuing coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama.