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Barack Obama Sworn in as the 44th President

Aired January 20, 2009 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: This is a space here really dedicated to making history and the news business. The 44th president is sworn in today, honored tonight -- the history being written as we speak. Right now, 10 official balls underway. Countless other celebrations around town. Many of the official balls the Obamas will visit are at the Washington Convention Center, others at sites like the Building Museum nearby and the Washington Hilton above DuPont Circle.
But this the scene right now at the Home State Ball. You see the Color Guard. We're expecting the Obamas any moment now. They were at the Neighborhood Ball just a short time ago.

Take a look.


COOPER: OK. We're not going to show you the home -- the Neighborhood Ball again. This is the Home State Ball. We're going to have a lot more events throughout the night.

We begin with everything that led up to this loud and glitzy night -- namely, the quiet dignity and soaring emotions of this history-making day -- history making and record-breaking. An estimated one-and-a-half million people, in freezing temperatures, a sea of tranquility from the Lincoln Memorial to the west front of the Capitol, where a queen held court -- the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin -- and brought forth a joyful noise.


COOPER: We're just going to stick with this picture right now of the Home State Ball, because we're anticipating the Obamas coming in at any moment -- David Gergen, you're standing by.

The importance of these balls, I mean who are all the people attending these things?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, they -- many of these balls now are divided up by region, by area -- the Mid-State Ball, a Southern Ball and that sort of thing. So it's a wonderful opportunity to invite all of the people who helped to put you in the White House to come to Washington, celebrate, join in. By the way, help pay for it. But have a chance to come and mix and mingle. And then they've -- they have these additional balls. The big innovation this year is to have this Neighborhood Ball for -- and the Obamas have just been there. And it's an attempt to reach out to the Washington, D.C. Community -- a predominantly black community that has not participated much in inaugurations in the past and has not really felt a kinship with most of our presidents.

Bill Clinton had a relationship, but not very many have had. This president is clearly going to be interwoven into the Washington area. He's close friends with the mayor already. There's school reform going on in this city.

So these balls have a political significance, a cultural significance. Mostly they're a chance to say thank you.

COOPER: Are they actually fun, Paul?



COOPER: They don't.


COOPER: I've got to say, it doesn't look like a lot of fun.

BEGALA: Actually, I'm not a big -- actually I'm not a big night life guy anyway. But they're -- they're not for the senior guys and gals in the campaign. And they're not even for the first family. They're for people all across the country, as David said, who did the extra volunteer hours or gave the extra dollar or two.

And it seems sort of odd. They support Barack Obama so strongly, right, that they would -- they would put all their heart and soul for two years into a campaign. They'd save their money and travel to Washington to help exhaust him the night before he begins the hardest job in the whole world.


BEGALA: It's a little counter-intuitive.

COOPER: That's our tradition.

GERGEN: Yes, but people wait hours to get into these things.

BEGALA: They do.

GERGEN: And then they go and they say what the hell was I doing here?


CASTELLANOS: It's kind of like the Olympics, you know, after you win the race, that's one thing. But then you get to stand -- take the stand and get your Gold Medal. Well, this is one of the few times, really, that the activists -- the people who work in the campaign -- that they get to take the stand and get their Gold Medal.

And I can understand, Paul. It's hard to dance in those cowboy boots.


BEGALA: The two-step.

CASTELLANOS: And that's about it.

COOPER: You can tell by the crowd, everyone is standing still. Clearly, the party has come to a grinding halt. And that is a sign that the Obamas will be arriving very shortly.

Joe Johns is in the hall.

Let's check in with him -- Joe, do we know what time the Obamas are arriving?

I assume it's any moment now, given that the crowd is silent.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly looks that way, Anderson. And you see for yourself -- the Color Guard that just showed up. They turned on the lights a few minutes ago. And so it looks like this party is on.

I must tell you, the schedule has been very fluid all evening. And then we started calling the Presidential Inaugural Committee earlier today, they gave us absolutely no information. So the best guess around 9:05 or so.

It's very interesting, this is the Home States Ball. That would be Hawaii, as well as Illinois. And these folks from Illinois are just beside themselves, obviously.

I spent some time over the weekend hanging out with the Illinois delegation, if you will -- just total joy. And when you think, also, about the State of Illinois and the state of politics there, with all of the chaos surrounding the governor and his appointment for the senator to replace Barack Obama, this is now sort of a time for the people of Illinois, who have worked in the campaigns and know this man and sort of made him who he is, to all get together and say, OK, there are some things we can agree on. One of them, of course, is the fact that they like the idea that Barack Obama is certainly president of the United States now -- Anderson.

COOPER: Joe, do we know, is President Obama expected to speak there and dance, as well?

JOHNS: He is expected to speak, as well, he is expected to dance. That's another important point. We believe, at least, that because these will be the people who know him best, presumably, President Obama will, in fact, spend some time talking to this group. Because it should be, certainly, very personal for him and very personal for his family, as well.

And here we go. I hear cheers behind me and so...

COOPER: Let's listen in.

JOHNS: ...maybe I can wrap up and turn around and take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States and First Lady Michelle Obama.





OBAMA: Aloha.

What's going on?

This is a special ball, because it represents our roots -- Hawaii, Illinois. Together you've given us so much. So many of you got involved not just in my campaign, but got involved in our lives many, many years ago. You're not new friends, you're old friends. And for that we are grateful to you.

This has been a magnificent last few days. But I hope that all of you remember what this campaign and, hopefully, what this presidency will be about. It's not just a matter of me or my administration making this country better. It's a matter of all of you pitching in, working together, trying to get past our differences in order to create the kind of world that we want to pass on to our children and our grandchildren.


OBAMA: Each of you -- each of you have the power to make change. And if you remember, our motto, "yes, we can!"...


OBAMA: Yes, we did in this election and yes, we shall in creating the kind of country that our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, can all thrive in.

So thank you, everybody.

We love you.

God bless you.

God bless the United States of America.


COOPER: This is the second dance of the evening. The Obamas -- the second ball that they have attended, the Home State Ball. Not the best tune to dance to, perhaps. Clearly, this has to be an exhausting day for -- for the president.

BEGALA: Yes, but did you notice the double-handed clutch there around Michelle, around her waist?

Around the first lady -- I don't want to be disrespectful.

Back in -- back in the day, we used to call that the why dance. It would be the last dance of the night. You'd put your arms around her tight and say, baby, why dance, let's just go home.


BEGALA: And I suspect that's probably what's on the president's mind, too, right now.

GERGEN: That's very -- that's so very Texas.

BEGALA: That's a very Texas thing.

COOPER: It is remarkable, though, Pamela -- you know, this is the new the first family. And I don't -- the country, I think, is still amazed to see them both and getting used to the idea this is the new first family.

GENTRY: They're noticeably a family and they're noticeably a couple.

COOPER: Absolutely.

GENTRY: I mean, Malia is constantly -- you know, lays on her father's lap because he is, basically, you know, a comfort to her. And she doesn't look at him, I'm sure, even as the president. Yes, but...

OBAMA: We thank you, everybody.

Thank you.

GENTRY: But you can tell that they're a couple. I mean, like you said, him even holding her with -- holding her with two hands while they're dancing. That's something that they do. It's not something that was practiced.

CASTELLANOS: You know, the idea of having a young family again back in the White House -- the two beautiful girls today, the energy, vitality, the freshness you see now -- with all due respect to us as Republicans, how did we think we were going to beat this with a 70- year-old guy?

(LAUGHTER) CASTELLANOS: This is a -- you do see some generational change here that has come to Washington. And it's not just the old administration going out and this new younger one coming in.

Look at that stage today, the podium -- Kennedys, the old and respected warhorses of the Democratic Party and now a brand new face. It's a transformational time.

COOPER: Joe Johns is -- Joe Johns is -- we're going to talk to Joe a little later. He's still at the ball. We have a number of correspondents at a number of balls and we're going to be bringing them to you throughout the evening. Again, the Obamas are supposed to attend 10 separate balls, dance a little bit at each one. Presidents have danced sometimes as short as 20 seconds or so.

Joe Johns is standing by -- Joe, it looks like the party is slowly starting to resume.

Are there performers going to be performing there tonight?

JOHNS: Yes. There are -- there are three different performers. Probably the headliner is Common, the rap artist. And we have a little -- a sort of jazz band that's been playing throughout, in case people wanted to dance.

Of course, as you know, the big event was this -- to see Barack Obama. Those remarks certainly short and sweet.

It's funny, too, the last time we had a Democrat in the White House, you were almost assured of him giving some you know, 20 or 30 minute lecture wherever he went, that being Bill Clinton, of course.

Very few words this time for Barack Obama.

Then there was that dance that some people look at as awkward for the president and the first lady. It's pretty traditional. This case about the same, although they managed to make a bit of a joke of it. So it's all good.

But people came here to see the president and his wife. And very interesting, one of the things you couldn't see in this crowd was the number of people who were holding up their cell phone cameras to get pictures of what was happening in this room. And that tells you, certainly, that the sense of history that is here at the Hawaii and Illinois Ball.

So many of these people actually know these people from long ago, back when Barack Obama, perhaps, was in the state legislature -- even before that for some of them. A very big deal for them, very personal. And they got what they came to see -- Anderson.

COOPER: Well, a little affection and awkward dancing, but, you know, that will do for this ball. On to the next one. The Obamas are moving on. So are we.

We're going to take a look back at this truly remarkable day. I mean, it is a cliche at this point to say it is an historic day. Just about everybody we've talked to on the Mall over last several days has said it is a historic day.

But it certainly was that. Just because it's a cliche does not mean it is not true. It was a remarkable day and we're going to bring it to you in its entirety -- some of the highlights of the day. And there were so many incredible moments.

We'll be right back, when our coverage continues live from Washington.



OBAMA: Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America -- they will be met.


OBAMA: On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.


COOPER: Barack Obama speaking earlier this -- this afternoon.

It was a truly remarkable day, with so many individual, truly special moments that we want to bring you over the next two hours -- two-and-a-half hours of our coverage -- the best of the day -- really give you a full sense -- a lot of you, I know, were at work and weren't able to watch the entire event. Some of you watched it on

But, really, over the next hour or two, we're going to give you the full emotion of the day.

Candy Crowley had a front row seat, particularly for the parade afterward -- the motorcade, Barack Obama leaving the Capitol heading toward the White House, his house, for the first time this evening -- Candy, you have been following this man, first as candidate, now as president, for an awfully long time.

Take us through the day.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was really a day when you saw how much history is made over decades, but crystallizes in a moment. And this was the moment. Whether you were looking out over that massive million plus crowd -- which, when you were in it, was immensely diverse. And which, when you got away from it, looked like all the same kind of moving fabric -- to see Barack Obama sworn in against and on the top of the steps built by slaves. Even a good-bye to George Bush -- to think that the leader of the Western world, the most powerful man, really, in the Western world suddenly becomes this sort of fading helicopter in the sky as the new man takes over. And that parade as you mentioned, you didn't even need to see Barack Obama get out of his limousine and walk Pennsylvania Avenue. You only had to listen to the crowds that went completely wild when he did step out -- just lining Pennsylvania Avenue, earlier along Constitution Avenue, as he really made that walk up to Pennsylvania -- 1600 Pennsylvania.

The speech -- the speech was very Barack Obama -- the fine art of him, which is a bold vision, but some real caution.

Here are some highlights.


OBAMA: What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility, a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world -- duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those...


To those who claim to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end. That we did not turn back, nor did we falter. And with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.


COOPER: Candy, was it a -- it was not a speech of soaring oratory. I mean there were dramatic moments in his speech, but it was not a -- perhaps someone said it's not a speech for the ages. I think it was David Gergen who said that earlier. CROWLEY: I think this is history in pictures, really. I agree this was not -- you didn't come away with that one thing you'll be saying. There was not an "ask not what your country can do for you" sort of moment.

But it got across the whole picture of Barack Obama. And, honestly, the message, as George Bush sat there and Barack Obama first thanked Bush for his service and then went on really to say, OK, now we're going to undo the following things over the next eight years.

So he certainly laid out what he wants to accomplish and also said to the American people again and again the cautionary note -- this is tough. This will take years.

So, again, it was that kind of caution -- cautious vision that he has. He wants to offer this hope, but he's also got to deal in reality. And I think that's what the speech was about, more than this attempt to lift and inspire.

Quite frankly, Anderson, he's done that. He wouldn't have brought a million-and-a-half people to this Mall or all those people around the world had he not already inspired and uplifted them.

So this was the time to begin to talk turkey.

COOPER: Talking turkey, especially tomorrow. That begins -- reality begins tomorrow.

Candy, we'll continue to talk to you throughout this evening for more on this day.

Gary Tuchman is standing by at the Youth Ball.

If reality begins tomorrow, there is still some partying to do tonight for the first family and for an awful lot of folks in Washington, D.C. -- Gary, what -- who's at and what is the Youth Ball?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Youth Ball means it will be a big party. And behind me right now, Kid Rock is performing. It will be Kid Rock; also, Kanye West. Fallout Boy will be performing later.

And because it's the Youth Ball, you can imagine that of the 10 balls going on tonight, this will very likely be the loudest and most festive of the balls.

About 2,000 young people here between the ages of 18 and 35. The youth were a very critical component for the victory of Barack Obama. And that's why they've been given their own ball. And even though this ball is for people 18 to 35, I can tell you that it's mostly 18 to 25.

And I also must tell you that that's why they picked me to cover it, because it's an 18 to 35 ball -- not.

But either way, I like to rock and it's a very interesting evening seeing all the rock and roll, seeing all the dancing, seeing the people have a good time.

This started an hour-and-a-half late. It was supposed to start at 7:00. Everyone didn't get on the floor until 8:30. So we figure this will go until about 3:00 in the morning. And Barack Obama is scheduled to be here around 10:45 Eastern time -- maybe a little bit late. But he and Michelle are expected to dance a jig.

He's expected to have a statement to make here like he has at other balls.

And I'll you something, if people want to small talk with him, it will be very be hard. Because that's why I have these big ear phones. This is a very loud place at the Washington Hilton.

One more thing I want to mention to you, Anderson. Everyone is wearing the traditional tuxedos and gowns, but because these are young people ready to party and have a good time, we see a lot of the guys with boots and with head bands and with blue jeans. And we see a lot of the girls with funky things, too. This is the funky ball of the evening -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Gary Tuchman, perhaps the most funky of our correspondents.

We appreciate you covering the Youth Ball.

I know it actually probably makes you feel extraordinarily old being in that crowd, especially with goofy headphones on.

But we will check in with you throughout the evening and see how your ego is holding up among all those very, very young people.

It is always sad when suddenly you realize you are no longer considered youth. I suddenly realized, wait a minute, I'm now 41. I'm no longer in that youth category. It's sort of always a shocking realization.


COOPER: Up next, more on the first full work day for this new president.

And later, Michelle Obama, Sasha, Malia -- a lot of eyes on them today. A lot of people talking about everything from the way they interact with each other to what they were wearing.

We'll look at all of that tonight on 360.

We'll be right back.


OBAMA: As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Our founding fathers... (APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Our founding fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man -- a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

Those ideals still light the world. And we will not give them up for expedience sake.

And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of piece and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more.


COOPER: Tough words not only for the leaders and groups around the world, but also for the out-going President Bush. Fair to say it was some hard words about President Obama's opinion on the last eight years. Let's check in with Randi Kaye, who is at the commander-in- chief ball. She is getting word that President Obama is on his way, perhaps very close. Randi, what are you hearing?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we were just told we got a two-minute warning that the president is on his way to the Commander-in-Chief's Ball, where we are. And to borrow a line from Barack Obama's campaign, the troops here at this ball are fired up and ready to go.

You are hearing George Lopez, the comedian on stage right now. But there are about 2,000 military members here. And they can't wait to hear from their new president. They just heard from Joe Biden, who showed up here with Jill Biden. They danced on stage. Joe Biden told the team here that there is no greater honor than having his son serve in Iraq, even more of an honor than being vice president of the United States.

We'll be live with you once Barack Obama shows up here, Anderson.

COOPER: Of course, we are going to bring you his comments live, as well as the dance, the third dance of the evening from the Commander-in-Chief Ball, a ball which President Obama has said is one of the most important balls of the evening.

Look at the image. Take a look, the then president-elect standing inside the Capitol, just steps from the platform, waiting to take the oath and address the nation, poised to become the leader of the free world. Taking in this moment, we can only imagine what he himself was thinking. For Obama and his inner circle, the work is pressing and it is immediate.

Today, a slew of activity from his top advisers. Tomorrow, a busy agenda begins for the new administration.

Let's get the latest on that from Ed Henry, who is standing by live. Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you are right. The new Obama administration began almost immediately after he raised his right hand to sworn in as the 44th president. I was on the west front of the Capitol. One thing that was striking is almost pretty quickly after he was sworn in, you could see some very senior aides in the VIP section, people like his chief lawyer, Greg Craig, Robert Gibbs, the in-coming White House press secretary, left. They had vans waiting outside the Capitol to bring them over here.

We saw them arriving here really before the inaugural address was over, before the lunch was over, all the festivities. That's because they wanted to get down to business.

What is interesting once they got here, Robert Gibbs Said that their computers weren't really working yet. They sort of hit these glitches because it is one of these parts of the transition where it doesn't work completely perfectly. He joked though that all the Os were on the keyboards, unlike the pranks where Ws were peeled off the keyboards in 2001.

But there also was some serious business, as you mentioned. The new White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, putting out a memo immediately today to all federal agencies putting a halt to any of the so-called midnight regulations that the Bush administration put in, these last minute regulations that each and every administration does in the final days that affect health, environment, all kind of policy that affect Americans. He said put a halt to it until the new Obama administration does a legal review of all this.

Meanwhile, they also got the team in place. Seven top officials confirmed by the Senate today. Everyone from the secretary of energy to the budget director. So they are trying to hit the ground running, Anderson.

COOPER: Ed Henry, I want to continue talking to you from the White House. I also want to show the view at the scene of the Commander's Ball. We are watching that very closely, because as soon as the Obamas come, we want to bring you that as well. Ed, let's continue to discuss. There has been a lot of talk about executive orders this president is going to sign in the next day, or two, or three. What do we know about what is on the docket?

All throughout the campaign, president, then candidate Obama, said that on day one, he was going to convene the Joint Chiefs talk about Iraq. See if -- talk about getting out within 16 months. What do we know about the plans for that meeting? Is that actually happening?

HENRY: It is happening tomorrow. It may depend on what your definition of day one is, Anderson. They're taking it as the first full day, which will be Wednesday, not today. Given all the inaugural balls, celebration. A lot of senior aides have been telling me in recent days they didn't want to do too much on the first day. They wanted to show that they're ready to hit the ground running, but not do too much and then step on the history of today, step on the Inaugural Address, step on some of the celebrations.

So tomorrow you're going to see a lot. He is meeting with the military commanders here at the White House. We're told by senior aides tell them that he wants to fulfill his campaign promise of pulling all US combat troops from Iraq within 16 months. That is going to be an interesting step.

He is also tomorrow bringing in all the senior economic advisers to talk about his 825 billion dollar recovery plan, as the price tag is now. Working around the hill. Deal with the financial crisis. Get the ball rolling on that. Also, he has more key players in this administration to get through the US Senate. Tim Geithner, his designate for Treasury secretary, as you know, has hit some bumps in the road in the Senate. They're having a hearing on Wednesday. They hope to get a committee vote Thursday.

So all the business is moving forward very, very rapidly. We are expecting it is going to be a very busy day tomorrow. Possible executive orders, possible announcement on a Mideast envoy or two, going to deal with that crisis. There are a lot of promises this president made about the first week. Obviously, we're paying very close attention to whether he keeps those promises starting tomorrow, Anderson.

COOPER: A number of cabinet appointees confirmed. Hillary Clinton's name was not among them. What's going to happen with that?

HENRY: My colleague, our senior Congressional correspondent Dana Bash has been reporting that the Republican Senator John Cornyn sort of put a halt to the nomination temporarily. He wanted to take a longer look at some of Bill Clinton's foundation work. But all indications are, and in fact the Senate leadership has now said there will be a vote on the Senate floor tomorrow around 4:30 Eastern time. Wide expectations that while there may be a few votes against her, she is going to pass overwhelmingly and be the next secretary of state.

Then they hope to get a committee vote, as I said, on Tim Geithner Thursday. They will at least likely have Hillary Clinton in place tomorrow, late tomorrow. And that really again helps them get going on the diplomatic track, Anderson.

COOPER: Ed, do we know what is happening inside the White House tonight in terms of A, Sasha and Malia Obama? I heard one report they may be having a sleep over. I don't know if you know anything about that. Also, just in terms of moving in, is everything already moved in?

HENRY: Everything is in, absolutely. We've heard that from various officials that that is one seamless part of this. You remember, we spoke to the out-going chief of staff for former First Lady Laura Bush late last night who told us that there were resident staff here, a couple dozen of them, who basically slept on cots here in the White House last night to get everything ready.

As soon as the Obamas left Blair House across the street from me right here, this morning to go to church, they gathered up the belongings. There was a moving truck that came over. They have got all that in there.

I have not, I have to admit, been able to confirm whether there is a sleep over. We'll keep digging on that, Anderson.

COOPER: That is probably the most important information for a lot of our younger viewers, who are no doubt staying up late to get a glimpse of the Obama girls. There had been some talk about them attending the Youth Ball. Clearly, from our understanding, they're not going to be doing that. It's probably too late for them. It's already about 9:40 or so. Not sure if they're allowed to stay up late and watch their folks dance.

We're waiting to see the Obamas dance and talk at the Commander- in-Chief Ball. That's the scene.

Let's continue talking with our panel. There are difficult days ahead though. As much as there is soaring rhetoric today and everyone talking about bipartisanship, tomorrow is another day.

BEGALA: Which is why I thought today's speech was the right speech for today. This was -- this is not simply a moment to inspire. He now has to begin to lead. I thought the speech was muscular and marshal. And now he has got to take us and lead us. I expect to see real action tomorrow. I think Ed Henry alluded to that.

They're already at work. I was downstairs before we came on to do this segment, warming up. My phone went off. It was a number which I haven't seen on my cell phone in eight years. It was the White House operator. I haven't gotten a call from the White House switchboard in a few years. Bush has apparently lost my number.

I checked in with the Obama team and they're already at work. They were not actually changing clothes to go out and dance. They're laying out various presidential directives that will come out tomorrow to try to begin to enact this president's agenda.

COOPER: Again, we have just seen the color guard come on stage. Awaiting the arrival, you see everyone out with their cell phone cameras. They too are awaiting the arrival. There was a two minute warning probably about four or five minutes ago. We continue to watch.

The music starting to play up. We will continue to watch that very closely. David, does the -- what does Barack Obama now do to continue the bipartisanship?

GERGEN: Well, he has to sleep fast tonight. The White House staff wants to get cracking tomorrow morning at 7:45 for senior staff meeting.

COOPER: 7:45 a.m.?

GERGEN: Yes. They had about 60 White House staff members go in today to help put this all together. I think they are ready. But this reality already started to intrude today. With the weakness in the banks, further weakness in the barks, markets went down over 300 points. That is going to be very much front and center for him tomorrow when he sits down and talks about this economy. I think that is the toughest problem he faces right away. It is so much likely to get worse. He is going to be faced with rising unemployment, 500,000, maybe 750,000 jobs lost a month for the next three months or so.

That's very tough for a new president.

COOPER: Pamela Gentry, senior political analyst for BET, all the campaign talk, all the rhetoric and the promises during the campaign, a lot of that might get swept away with this overwhelming economic burden which we all now face?

GENTRY: I think he is probably going to have to wait on getting to the war right away. When the campaign started, the war was the number one issue. The economy has taken over. I'm sure that has flipped now. He'll start with the economy and get to the war.

I think when you look at what the people are most concerned about are jobs. So that's all -- I have talked to every member of Congress. The only thing they want are jobs in their district. They just want to figure out how to get jobs. He is going to have to hit the economy first.

COOPER: Alex Castellanos, there is no agreement over how to get jobs really, no bipartisan agreement?

CASTELLANOS: No bipartisan agreement yet. Talking about getting to work early; we saw Rahm Emanuel getting to work at lunch in Statuary Hall. Who was he sitting with? John McCain. He was already reaching across the aisle.

I think some worry is McCain going to give too much? Is he going to lead the Republican party and hand over the keys or is he going to work together?

COOPER: I'm joined now by Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod, who is at the Home State Ball. David, thanks very much for joining us tonight. First of all, what begins tomorrow. First thing tomorrow, I understand there's a meeting 7:45. What is on the agenda?

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I mean there will be a lot on the agenda. We have an economic agenda to move and a myriad things to deal with. But obviously, we have to get organized on our first day. And we're prepared to do that. I think the president-elect will -- the president now will be meeting with his staff at some point during the day, talking about how he intends to govern and the kind of changes he is going to bring in terms of ethics and other issues.

I know he is going to be meeting with military leaders to discuss Iraq and Afghanistan and other issues, and with his economic advisers. So it is going to be a full day.

COOPER: I notice you stumbled. Have you gotten used to calling him President Obama yet? AXELROD: It is going to be an adjustment. It's a wonderful adjustment to have to make. But it is going to be an adjustment. I'm going to get this by the end of the week, I'm sure.

COOPER: You better. I think, we all better. The president is coming out right now with Michelle Obama. We are about to -- we lost the shot. David, let me talk to you longer. During the campaign, then candidate Obama had talked about meeting with the joint chiefs on day one, looking into withdrawing troops in 16 months. Is that still on the agenda?

AXELROD: I'm sure that will be discussed. It's something he still believes is a responsible timetable. But they'll discuss it. Everyone agrees that we -- we need to be on a pace to withdraw our troops. And how that will be implemented I'm sure will be something he'll discuss.

COOPER: David -- you have been planning.

AXELROD: Go ahead, Anderson.

COOPER: Sorry. You have been planning for this day for an awfully long time. What was it like for you to actually witness it, to actually see it all come to pass?

AXELROD: Well, it was a little overwhelming. I tell you the thing that sticks in my head is looking out from that platform and seeing people as far as the eye can see. I mean just -- not just in the mall, but in the streets surrounding the Capitol. And I have been struck by this all week -- all weekend, how much people feel invested in this. And that has been really wonderful to see.

COOPER: David Axelrod, senior adviser, we appreciate your time tonight. Enjoy these last few hours. I know you have to get to work early in the morning. Thank you.

Let's try to listen in. This is not a pool camera here. Let's listen to what we can hear.

OBAMA: I also want to recognize some very special guests, 300 wounded warriors joining us from Walter Reed. I want to thank all of you for your service and I wish you quick and healthy recoveries. I know that you are more than ready to get home to your families. And I know they are more than ready to have you back.

I also want to take a moment to honor the families of the fallen who are here with us tonight. You have given so much to this country. I know that your loved one's sacrifice has been your sacrifice as well. And please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers today, every day, forever.

And finally, I want to thank all of the enlisted men and women and junior officers here tonight. It is wonderful to be surrounded by some of the very best and bravest Americans. Your courage, your grace, and your patriotism inspire us all. To you, and to all of those watching from around the world, know that as president I will have no greater honor or responsibility than serving as your commander-in-chief.

Right now, as we gather here in Washington, we are sobered by the knowledge that we have troops serving in all corners of the world, many of them in harm's way. We are fighting two wars. We face dangerous threats to our security. We depend on the men and women of our armed services to keep us safe.

We also know that service and sacrifice aren't limited to those who wear the uniform, because every time a service member deploys, there is an empty seat at the table back home and a family that has to bear an extra burden. And that's why Michelle has spent so much time these last few months working with our military families. And that's why tonight we don't just salute our troops, we salute the military families who have earned the respect of a grateful nation.

Understand, tonight isn't simply about the inauguration of an American president. It is a celebration of our military and our military families. So going forward, you will have our support and our respect. You will have a great secretary of defense in Bob Gates. You will have a great secretary of Veterans Affairs in General Eric Shinseki. And every single day that I am in the White House, I will try to serve you as well as you are serving the United States of America.

As I said earlier today, while the tests we face are new, and the ways in which we meet them may be new, the values on which our success depends are old. Those values like hard work and honesty, courage and tolerance, loyalty and patriotism, those are values that are embodied in our armed forces.

What's required is for all of us to return to those values. What's required is all of us to embrace a new era of responsibility, where we expect and demand not only more of our leaders, but more of ourselves.

So tonight, we celebrate. But tomorrow the work begins. And I look forward to joining you in that effort. Together, I am confident that we will write the next great chapter in America's story.

Now, I have got a little surprise for some of you. As I said before we, have folks who are working right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it appears, if our technology works the way it is supposed to, that we should have members of the Illinois Army National Guard 33rd Infantry Brigade Unit combat based in Urbana, Illinois. Hey, guys!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, sir. Mr. President, this is Sergeant Major Mark Bowman, the 33rd brigade combat team. Go ahead.

Task Force Phoenix here in Kabul. Good morning, sir.

OBAMA: I was told there was going to be a delay. This is Sergeant Major Mark Bowman. Before you say anything else, could you please introduce the rest of your crew there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. I'm from Chicago. Most people here are from the Chicago area, sir. We're just all honored that you take time on this busy day -- I wanted to invite you back to Afghanistan and sit down with some of the great Afghans we work with. And as we develop their security forces, come on back, when you get a chance, sir.

OBAMA: I will be back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me pass this off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing, Mr. President. Specialist Howard from Chicago, Illinois.

OBAMA: West side? South side?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: West side, sir.

OBAMA: Go ahead, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Mr. President. Staff Sergeant Overo Eric. I'm from by Midway Airport in Garfield Ridge, Chicago, Illinois.

OBAMA: Can I ask a question before you pass on the mic? We've got three Chicago guys. This is an important test. White Sox or Cubs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cubs fan, Mr. President.

OBAMA: I'm sorry. I couldn't hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cubs fan, Mr. President.

OBAMA: Go to the next day. Let's see if we can find a White Sox guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernardo Gian from North Wake, Illinois, Cubs fan.

OBAMA: This is terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Mr. President. Specialist Melissa Kreeger from Naperville, Cubs fan. Cubs. Go Cubs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, sir. Specialist Geovana Gerra from Chicago, Illinois, Hyde Park, to be exact. And I'm a Sox fan.

OBAMA: Hey, finally. It's about time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Mr. President. Specialist Hernandez from Earl, Illinois. I want to say hi to my family at home. And I'm a Cubs fan. OBAMA: Well, Sergeant Major, we may be out-numbered, us White Sox fans, but whether you're White Sox, Cubs or Cardinals -- we got some folks probably from Scott Air Force Base Down in Metro East. No matter where you are from, we are all grateful to you for your outstanding service. You make us --

COOPER: President Obama speaking to troops in Afghanistan from Illinois. The Obamas are expected to dance with members of the military. We're going to show you that after this short break. We'll be right back.


COOPER: President Obama and Michelle Obama dancing with members of the military at the commanders in chief ball. I'm joined by Campbell Brown for this continuing coverage on "AC 360." Campbell, this is the third ball that they have hit so far and their dance card is still full for the rest of the evening.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it is. I think they have seven more to go after this one, Anderson. This one, clearly, they're spending a lot of time here and taking the time. This is an issue that Michelle Obama has obviously spent a lot of time talking about during the campaign and since, trying to make a connection with military families and highlight some of their concerns.

This is a ball, an inaugural event that George W. Bush was the first to hold back in 2005. Clearly, a very important one, event for the servicemen and women there. It looks like they're about to wrap it up. He may be making some more remarks before they head to the next one. Let's listen.

OBAMA: God bless you, and god bless the United States of America.

BROWN: They're off to the youth ball from here, Anderson. We'll talk about that and a lot more when we come back right after this. Stay with us.