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Inauguration Day Coverage

Aired January 20, 2009 - 11:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: So when he says, "I don't know how I got my ticket," he is being just a little bit modest. That's not the case. He has been a long-time supporter, well before I think even -- he thought about campaigning for the race.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There's Joe Biden just entering the building. We're waiting to see one glimpse of Barack Obama and President Bush.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, you know, I want to also let our viewers know that, you know, they were expecting really horrible weather here on this day. But if you take a shot of Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer right now, you'll see we took off our overcoats.

But there is the first lady and the incoming first lady. They're already there. They've gotten out of their limos and they're walking in. There are going to be heaters up there on Capitol Hill for them, but there is no doubt that the weather is definitely better.

Barack Obama has now arrived on Capitol Hill, and he is outside. He is getting ready to walk inside, as well. They're going to be almost, I'm guessing, about 50, 55 minutes before the actual swearing in ceremony takes place.

O'BRIEN: We had a picture a moment ago of Michelle Obama. She's wearing an Isabel Toledo, they've announced. She's a Cuban-American designer.

BLITZER: That's Jill Biden and Lynne Cheney, the wives of the vice president to be and the current vice president walking in. They're followed by the Honor Guards. And there is George Bush and Barack Obama as they're walking in into the historic chambers.

COOPER: There is a roar going through the crowd. We are a few blocks away, and you can hear it from here. I assume that on the JumboTrons, they are seeing some of these pictures. They know that Barack Obama is very close to coming out on that platform.

BLITZER: Once he does, that crowd will go crazy. Not only the people who are up front and can actually see him, but those further behind. They will see him on those huge screens that have been assembled on both sides of the National Mall, and they will be watching every step of the way.

Those are giant JumboTrons, and people will get even more excited than they already are. And then, I suspect, and I'm sure what will happen, is once the swearing-in ceremony takes place, it will be very quiet.

You know what? Let's listen to the U.S. Marine Corps band a little bit as we watch these pictures.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and Gentlemen, the chief justice of the United States, the Honorable John G. Roberts Jr., and the associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.

BLITZER: The chief justice will be in charge of swearing in Barack Obama. There he is, John Roberts, walking in with seven other justices. One of the justices decided not to attend, as we heard earlier from Jeff Toobin.

COOPER: This is one of the few events in our government in which all three branches of government are involved in one single event. You have the judicial branch, the legislative branch, as well as, obviously, the executive branch. The only other event, to my knowledge, is an impeachment of a president.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: And when the president comes up to give a State of the Union, he then has the House, the Senate, his cabinet.

COOPER: But the Supreme Court doesn't have an active role in that....

GERGEN: No, it does not have an active role.

COOPER: This is the only event in which they all three have a role to play.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: And this journey is from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other, it's something that the president will do a lot in the upcoming four years.

GERGEN: I keep thinking as I'm watching this today, you know, there is so much joy attached to this, because recently, when we've had processions in Washington with these black limousines, they have been funerals. You know, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, we lost both of them during these last few years. And this one has such a different feel about it, because it is joyful and just celebratory. A fresh beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. William F. Bailey (ph), Ms. Payne Pritzner (ph), Mr. John W. Rogers Jr. (ph), Mr. Patrick G. Ryan (ph) and Ms. Juliana Spooth (ph), co-chairs of the 56th Presidential Inaugural Committee.

COOPER: We'll talk a little bit about what is going to happen in the next hour, in run-up to the swearing in.

BLITZER: Well, what happens now is the Obamas actually proceed to the Senate dining room. That they will have a chance to just relax a little bit and get ready as some of the other VIPs, the dignitaries, are introduced to the crowd. The former presidents will be there, former President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, former President and Mrs. George H. W. Bush, and former President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, soon to be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It's interesting. As we look at Hillary Clinton, Anderson and Gloria, she was supposed to be confirmed as the secretary of state, together with some others, by the full Senate later today. But one U.S. senator, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, decided to put a hold on that, at least for one day. So she is not going to be secretary of state, at least for another day.

BORGER: Right. He also told Dana Bash though, just this morning, that he knows that she is going to get confirmed, but his complaint is about Bill Clinton's charitable foundation and the conflicts of interest that that might cause. So ceremonially, I guess, he is holding it up for a day, but she will be confirmed.

COOPER: There's going to be an interesting moment around 11:20, a little bit more than 10 minutes from now, when President Bush enters the stage. The band will play "Hail to the Chief." It will be the last time the Marine Corps band plays "Hail to the Chief" for this president, and then moments after Barack Obama is sworn in, they will play "Hail to the Chief," this time for Barack Obama. And that will be the first time President Obama hears that played for him.

BLITZER: I just want to also point out that what's happening right now is being seen not only by millions, tens of millions of people in the United States, but we're on around the world. People are watching in 240 countries and territories right now. And there are already estimates that more people will watch this event than have ever watched anything in the history of television.

This could be the largest audience ever, the largest audience for a show in the United States. Years ago, the final episode of "MASH" had more than 100 million people watching. I suspect this one will have a lot more than that in the United States. And when you add up all of the various television networks that are carrying this live, CNN is carrying it live around the world. So we're talking about hundreds of millions of people who will be watching.

COOPER: A lot of folks at work right now watching this online,, as well.

BLITZER: Yes, people who have to work, they, I'm sure, will take a look on their computers.

GERGEN: In many ways, this is the world's inauguration. It's not only an American inauguration. And it is sending a message to the world that -- of new hope about what America represents. At a time there have been disappointments around the world and what we have been up to, this is rekindling that flame. So this is -- it's memorable in so many different ways.

COOPER: Barack Obama has said that only in America is his story possible, his personal story, his personal journey, his family's journey of his mother and father coming together. And his upbringing. O'BRIEN: And it's what connecting so many people who also think, well, in America is their story possible, too, whether you are a Native American, or you've come here from Europe as an immigrant, you have come here because you're a descendant of slaves, you've come here...

BLITZER: You see the former vice-presidents coming in. You saw Dan Quayle, Al Gore, and there's Walter Mondale and Mrs. Mondale. They were invited. They are attending just as the former presidents. You're going to be seeing and hearing from them -- you're not going to be hearing from them, but you're going to be seeing them very soon as they get ready to walk in.

COOPER: It is remarkable to think on this stage, on this, the west front of the Capitol, just about every person who we have watched over the last 20 years or so in government is there. I mean, this is the power of our country.

BORGER: If you can get a ticket to this and you're invited to this, you go to this, because it is such an obvious moment in history. And you talk about how our country is able to self-correct and change. I mean, just think of Barack Obama putting his hand on that bible, pledging to defend the Constitution of the United States, that originally counted a black man as three-fifths of a person. And now he's president.

COOPER: Here is our attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder.

GERGEN: It is as you say, Anderson, because there are so many defeated rivals on that stage, people who wanted to president, it is reaffirming about the fact that at the end of the day, in a democracy, especially in this democracy, we try to put down our differences and join as one. And that is a -- I think that keeping that spirit alive is very much the purpose of Barack Obama's inaugural.

I might just note...

COOPER: Shaun Donovan, future head of housing and urban development. I went to high school with him.

GERGEN: We should tell our viewers, we have just received a copy of the inaugural address. It's not always true that members of the press get a copy. Sometimes it's still being written in that car on the way up. But we can't say anything about it. But we have just received copies.

COOPER: It's a speech that Barack Obama has been working on now for several weeks. We are told it had largely been finished, what, about a week or so ago?

BORGER: Yes. But he is somebody who actually writes his own things, and he's written two books, as you all know. And he is somebody who works very closely with his speechwriter, but continues to tweak it until the very end because he believes in the power of words, as we know. BLITZER: What you're seeing now, you saw Eric Holder at the bottom. These are members of the incoming cabinet of Barack Obama's administration who are coming in. They'll be escorted into their seats, as well.

I also want to let our viewers know, we're going to be doing something rather extraordinary in the next few minutes. We have ordered an exterior shot of the Mall from way up in space, a satellite image. We'll take a picture of what's happening here in D.C., a GOI 6 (ph) satellite, to be precise.

We're going to get the view from space. We're going to turn that picture around as quickly as we can, and you're going to see what this would look like if you were flying overhead from space, from a satellite.

It's going to be, Anderson, a pretty amazing shot.

COOPER: How do you order up a satellite?

BLITZER: David Bohrman, our Washington bureau chief...

COOPER: If there's anyone who knows how to call up a satellite, it's David Bohrman.

BLITZER: ... does that. He just makes a phone call, he says, "Get me the picture from that satellite." And we're going to show it to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

We try, as all of our viewers by now know, to do some unusual, extraordinary, technologically...

COOPER: Hopefully there won't be clouds.

BLITZER: You know, it's turned out to be such a nice day. Look at that sun. Look at how gorgeous it is. It's maybe a little chilly, but it's -- you know, it's a lot nicer many of us thought it would be.

And we're pretty happy about all of that. And I'm sure no one is as happy as all the millions who have gathered here in Washington, D.C.

There's Walter Mondale again, walking in with Dan Quayle and his wife, and Al Gore and Tipper Gore. The former vice presidents of the United States participating in this historic event.

COOPER: It's interesting. I mean, we look at these pictures of these powerful people on the west front who have access, who have tickets. I think the real story though of today is turning the cameras around and seeing the more than million people out who have come here from all around the world. We have been talking to people over the last couple days, I mean, literally from every country you can imagine.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. Talking about it as a pilgrimage, having to be here for a moment. And not just the moment of putting his hand and taking the oath of office, but as you said, you know, imagine, there was a time when a black man was worth three-fifths of a white man. So the idea that that same black man who would have that percentage, if you will, could be president of the United States, it's not about Barack Obama, it's about a country's history really moving forward for a lot of people.

COOPER: And so many -- I mean, we you talk about that, hundreds of years ago, you know, what a lot of people especially watching today don't even realize is that in our lifetime -- I mean, in our lifetime, in states of the union, Barack Obama's parents could not have gotten married.

O'BRIEN: Interracial marriage, right.

COOPER: In Virginia, in Maryland.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely.

COOPER: I mean, there are places where it was simply outlawed.

O'BRIEN: The Supreme Court didn't overturn that ban until 1967. That was not so long ago.

BORGER: Which will all speaks to the possibility of America. I mean, that's what this is about. That's why everyone is on the Mall today. That's what they're applauding. Not only Barack Obama, but he does represent the possibilities.

BLITZER: Here are some of the -- let's listen to the Color Guard for a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated.

COOPER: The Obamas are about to be announced, we believe. There is Mr. and Mrs. Bush.

BLITZER: They will be greeted by members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies up on Capitol Hill. They have a committee for everything.

There you see the former president, George H. W. Bush, and Barbara Bush, the parents of the current president of the United States. They're walking in.

They'll be followed by other former presidents. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton will be coming in, as well.

This must be one of those moments for the first President Bush, bittersweet. On the one hand, he sees his son winding up eight years as president of the United States. At the same time, he sees his son leaving office, at least if you believe all of the public opinion polls, not very popular right now.

He seems to be struggling, David, a little bit, as he is walking down, President Bush.

GERGEN: He is. Clearly, age has taken a toll on him now. But I must say, this is a man who -- you know, it may be bittersweet, but he is also profoundly grateful.

BLITZER: And there is Jimmy Carter, Rosalind Carter, the former president and former first lady. They're moving along rather briskly as they get ready to take their seats up at the VIP section on Capitol Hill, the west front of the U.S. Capitol.

And Anderson, we should be seeing Bill Clinton walking in very soon. I assume Hillary Clinton will be walking with Bill Clinton, even though she also has another hat as not only a United States senator, but also as an incoming member of the Obama cabinet.

COOPER: That is what we have been told to expect. And after the former presidents are seated, then the vice presidents will come. And former president -- current President Bush will emerge. And then, of course, the Obamas.

GERGEN: It's worth remembering about the Bushes, three generations of Bushes in a row have sat on that platform for presidential inaugurations. That's a remarkable story.

BORGER: And that was one of the reasons Barack Obama gave for his election. He said it's enough of the Bushes and the Clintons.

GERGEN: The hour passes, as it should.

BORGER: And that's another thing, which is the passing of a torch in so many ways. What we haven't talked about is the generation, the post baby boomer generation, really, feeling that Barack Obama is their president.

BLITZER: There he is, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. They're walking out right now.

She is going to become the secretary of state of the United States. She would have liked, Anderson, as you know, and all of our viewers know, to become the president of the United States. That's not happening, at least not now. But she is going to be the secretary of state.

There may be a few Republicans who vote not to confirm her, but she should sail through. She sailed through 15-1, her confirmation process, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Only Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter voting against her. She might get a few more votes against her in the full Senate, but not very many. She is going to be confirmed, and she will then become the next secretary of state.

COOPER: It's interesting. As soon as their picture emerged, I'm assuming it was shown on the JumboTrons, because we could again hear a roar from the crowd who has assembled here on the Mall.

BLITZER: Yes, Bill Clinton was up there a few times, taking the swearing-in ceremony himself in January of '93 and January of '97. So he has got a unique vantage point of what is about to happen.

And there you see the former president, George H. W. Bush. Yes, he really is not walking all that well right now. He is walking slowly. And it looks like he is in a little bit of pain.

I don't know what the problem is, but we saw him recently doing some TV interviews, including one together with his son. He seemed to be pretty lively and pretty chipper in all of that.

Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, now a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, from Chicago, he is there. And if you know Rahm Emanuel, as many of us do, he is about as pumped and as enthused as you could possibly be. He is a very, very lively guy, and he is a very, very ardent political animal, has been like that ever since he was a student in college. He's just been so enthralled by this whole political process, and he must be so excited that he's reached this moment not only in his personal life, but also to see Barack Obama become president.

BORGER: And this is his return to the White House, because, of course, you know, he worked for Bill Clinton as a top aide, and then went in, became a member of Congress, and now going back in for a second tour in the white House.

You know what that's like, David.

GERGEN: Bill Clinton once told me he never would have become president without Rahm Emanuel, because he did such a marvelous job raising money for him. And now here he is with this second president at his side.

BLITZER: Yes. And it seems so quaint, if you look back to the '92 campaign. At that time I think Bill Clinton raised about $50 million or $60 million to become president of the United States. Nowadays, that with would seem like a week's worth of online donations, or whatever.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: This very inauguration cost more than that. Very expensive.

GERGEN: About $150 million or so? Is that...

COOPER: Let's listen in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and Gentlemen, the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalyn Carter.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the 41st president of the United States, George H. W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush.

BLITZER: All right. This a moving van over at the south lawn of White House -- boxes coming in, boxes going out. Anderson, even as this amazing, awesome swearing-in ceremony is taking place on the other side of Capitol Hill, look what's happening over at the White House.

Let's listen in to the introduction of the next former president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and Gentlemen, the 42nd president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.


BLITZER: All right, there he is, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. And we were pointing out that Hillary Clinton, she will be the next secretary of state, even though she won't be secretary of state on this day, when the Senate later will convene and will approve -- will confirm some other cabinet nominees. But not Hillary Clinton. Senator John Cornyn, as we've pointed out, of Texas, saying that he is going to put a hold, at least for one day, on this confirmation because of questions he still has, presumably, a few other Republican members, involving Bill Clinton's foundation and charitable gifts to that foundation.

He looks pretty good, I must say, Bill Clinton. You know, he has had his ailments over the years, as we know.

But I think, David Gergen, you used to work for him. I think he looks pretty good.

COOPER: There's the Bush daughters.

GERGEN: Very strong. And he's clearly enjoying himself up there.

Jimmy Carter also looked...

BLITZER: Jimmy Carter looked great, yes.

GERGEN: ... healthy. Very healthy.

COOPER: You see members of the Bush family arriving in their seats. Former President Bush, Laura Bush will be the next to be seated.

After the Obamas have arrived and have been seated, the first event, there will be a call to order, and some welcoming remarks from Senator Dianne Feinstein, and then the invocation by Rick Warren. And then Aretha Franklin, singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

BLITZER: Yes, Dianne Feinstein, as we pointed out, is the chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. So it's been her responsibility to lead the Congress is making sure that everything is appropriate, all those tickets are distributed, and those who are supposed to be up close, they're the ones who get to be up close. It's not an easy assignment by any means. The pressure for those seats is enormous. It's not just getting ring side seats or court side seats for a basketball game, this is a big deal, as all of us appreciate.

COOPER: Some of the celebrities gave $50,000 each to attend, paid that money to the inauguration fund and got them tickets to the ceremony, to the parade and to a ball, as well.

After Aretha Franklin performs "My Country 'Tis of Thee," the vice president will have the oath administered by Associate Justice Stevens. It's an oath -- the vice president's oath is different than the oath the president takes. The president's oath is written into the Constitution. The vice president's oath is the same oath taken by members of Congress.

BLITZER: And there are the kids, Malia and Sasha. They're walking in as well.

COOPER: And you can hear this crowd roar from where we are at that picture of Sasha and Malia, two very popular little kids.

BLITZER: Yes, as popular as the president-elect is and Michelle Obama. These kids are at least as popular, no doubt.

COOPER: And there's Mrs. Robinson.

BLITZER: That's their grandmother, Mrs. Robinson, who will be living at the White House with them. And both Barack and Michelle Obama, very happy that Michelle Obama's mother, Mrs. Robinson, is going to be there.

COOPER: I sense Soledad O'Brien's kids are watching right now and very excited.

O'BRIEN: And taking notes on those two little girls and what they're wearing, and how they're wearing their hair. You know, it's so much fun to watch the two of them with broad smiles, not looking nervous. Because imagine, the crowd is around them, and how difficult that might be, and they are just smiling broadly.

I love that. The look really, really happy and relaxed.

COOPER: Imagine what this year has been like for them. It has got to be just a surreal, extraordinary experience.

BORGER: And now they see their father more than they have in the last two years, because they live right over the shop. They will.

BLITZER: Yes, they'll see a lot of their dad. And I'm sure they'll be real happy about that. And once the crowd sees them, there's going to be an eruption of excitement. These two little girls have really captivated the imagination of the American people.

There you see Lynne Cheney on the right of your screen, and Laura Bush on the left of the screen. The outgoing wives of the vice president and the president.

COOPER: Look how full up it's become. Earlier, when we went on the air about an hour, and hour and a half ago, up by the Washington Monument, there was a lot of grass to be seen. There is no grass to be seen now. I can't tell if it stretches all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, but it certainly looks like it does.

BLITZER: Yes, at least up to the Washington Monument, it's pretty jam-packed.

COOPER: There she is, Aretha Franklin.

BLITZER: Yes. And she's going to be performing and electrifying this crowd, as well.

COOPER: The "First Lady of Soul." There are three first ladies on stage, Aretha Franklin, the First Lady of Soul.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. Born in 1946 in Memphis, Tennessee. And her experience with discrimination and segregation. And again, her appearance, of course, she has decided to sing. But also what she has experienced in this nation.

BLITZER: All right. Let's watch this, because here is this introduction of the kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... accompanied by Assistant Secretary of the Senate, Sheila Dwyer.


BLITZER: There they are, Malia and Sasha. They're excited. Look at those nice smiles. They should be really happy.

Roland Martin is up there, as well.

Roland, tell us where you are and what it feels like. What are you seeing? Hold on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and Gentlemen, the first lady, Mrs. Laura Bush, and the wife of the vice president, Mrs. Lynne Cheney, accompanied by Secretary Chao, Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. Boehner, and Republican Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, Mary Suit Jones.

BLITZER: The Cheneys are walking in. They're going to be followed by eventually Michelle Obama, Barack Obama. President Bush will be coming in. And then this formal process will begin the inaugural ceremonies.

It looks, by our account here, Anderson, they're running slightly, slightly behind schedule. But at noon Eastern, which is in about a half hour from now, Barack Obama actually becomes president of the United States, even if he hasn't even been sworn in yet, because that's according to the Constitution.

COOPER: It all goes according to the tradition, a tradition in which some of it is written into the Constitution, some has been amended over the years by past presidents. Barack Obama will, of course, give the inaugural address. He is supposed to start it at 12:01. But as you said, they are running a little bit behind schedule.

But after Barack Obama takes the oath of office, heralded trumpets perform "Four Ruffles and Flourishes." The U.S. Marine Corps band plays "Hail to the Chief" for Barack Obama for the first time. Then there will be a 21-gun salute, and Senator Dianne Feinstein introduces the president, who gives his inaugural address, followed by poet Elizabeth Alexander, who's been selected by Barack Obama. Not every president has a poet, but...

BLITZER: But there will be now.

COOPER: ... the tradition had started with John F. Kennedy and Robert Frost. He was the first poet to speak on Inauguration Day.

BLITZER: Anticipation clearly building. By the way, Senator Feinstein will be the first person to speak. She will call this inaugural ceremony to order. She'll have some welcoming remarks before the invocation.


COOPER: Crowd chanting -- chanting Obama.

BLITZER: Rick Warren. Again, we're ready for this moment to take place. And it's -- the clock is ticking down as history is unfolding in Washington.

All right. There is Michelle Obama and Joe Biden. They will shortly be introduced, as well. They're about to walk in, and there will be a huge, huge celebration as they are introduced. Joe Biden...


COOPER: He makes some news in the last day.


COOPER: Today, telling Oprah Winfrey that her husband was offered either secretary -- secretary of state or vice president. Vice president of the -- Biden's office put out a statement saying, well, not exactly, it wasn't quite like that. What she meant to say was...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've tried to clear it up, but not so much.

BLITZER: Whenever you need to put out a long statement clearing something up, you know you're in trouble.


COOPER: Look at that picture. Amazing.

BLITZER: Huge, huge crowd here in Washington. They're going to introduce Michelle Obama and Joe Biden, and then we'll hear from -- we'll be seeing and hearing from Joe Biden eventually and from Barack Obama.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: (INAUDIBLE) occasion. For the early inaugurations there was no amplification, and only about 50 people could actually hear the speech. Very closely gathered in. This -- you can hear -- you can hear the sounds all the way, at least a half mile away.

COOPER: This is even piped and also the video -- JumboTrons are out on the parade route, so people had to decide whether they wanted to go to the mall, to try to say they were able to -- be on the mall for the inauguration or on the parade route. And so those folks who are on the parade route can watch this as well.

BLITZER: And now we see President Bush. He's getting ready to be introduced as well. He's walking out, escorted by the top Republican leadership in the U.S. Congress. Spent the day pretty much as he always did. He was up pretty early, had a briefing with his national security team around 7:00 a.m. as he almost always did.

But let's listen to the introductions.

ANNOUNCER: The clerk of the House of Representatives, Lori Ann Miller, Mr. Plum, Mr. Pelosi and Mrs. Reid.

BLITZER: There's Mr. Bush, he's inside the crypt and the rotunda, getting ready to walk out. He'll be introduced and he'll be followed by Joe Biden, and they'll be followed by Barack Obama. They'll be walking out for the swearing in ceremonies.

Michelle Obama has just been introduced there. She is walking down those stairs with Joe Biden, the wife of Joe Biden, the incoming vice president of the United States.

COOPER: Exactly one hour from now, President Bush is supposed to board executive one, the helicopter which will take him to Andrews Air Force Base. All of this will -- history will change in this next hour.

BLITZER: Yes. There is no doubt about that. And there is no doubt that the entire world is watching right now, as we broadcast what's going on.

He's smiling. The people think he's going to be pretty happy going back to Texas. And burdens on him have been enormous, as we all know, over these many years.

BLITZER: Bill Bennett, you're a student of history. You're watching this along with all of us here on CNN. Your thoughts upon watching this, the peaceful transfer of power.

Bill Bennett, I don't know if you can hear me, but you're watching this. You're a student of history. What are your thoughts upon watching this peaceful transfer of power?

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this is history, for sure. And we will have come a long way from the emancipation proclamation, 146 years, extraordinary day, extraordinary country. No place else as this.

COOPER: Paul Begala, you're watching along with us. Your thoughts.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, yes, Anderson, picking up on what Bill said, just a few dozen yards from where the president- elect will take the oath of office, there was a pen in which human beings were kept as slaves as they built that capitol building.

And it's just -- it's been said by everybody, but it's just I guess one more person has got to repeat it. It is our secular version of a miracle that this country has come this far, and that this man has achieved so much.

COOPER: David Gergen, this -- this building which was in part built by slaves, the White House which was in part built by slaves.

GERGEN: John King has reminded us over the last few days. Both buildings built on the backs of slaves. And yet I think also overhanging this, Anderson, and very much alive in Barack Obama's mind is not just the past. But the crisis of the present. And it's that to which he's, I think, going to address himself most forthrightly today, recalling the sacrifices of the past, what people have endured in the past as a way to fortify us, to give us strength for the journey ahead.

BLITZER: There's the Vice President Dick Cheney who's being wheeled in. As we told you he had an accident. He was moving some boxes in his new home outside of Washington, D.C. in McLean, Virginia and he apparently twisted his back a bit.

Doctors recommending he stay off his feet for a little while. And as a result, he's in a wheelchair. And they're going to wheel him out for the ceremony itself. The -- let's listen to this.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States, the honorable George Walker Bush, and the vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney. Accompanied by Senate Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Robert Bennett, House Republican leader, Representative John Boehner, and secretary for the minority, David Chiapa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw you up there.

COOPER: And, of course, the last time "Hail to the Chief" -- that's the last time "Hail to the Chief" will be played for President Bush.

We're told that Mrs. Obama has the Lincoln bible in her hands. The bible was originally purchased by the clerk of the Supreme Court William Thomas Carroll used for Abraham Lincoln's swearing in, March 4th, 1861 It's bound in burgundy velvet, some gold (INAUDIBLE), white metal rim around the three edges outside the book covers. The edges are gilded heavily.

BLITZER: And here is Joe Biden. He's getting ready to be introduced, as well, the incoming vice president of the United States. Steny Hoyer and Harry Reid will be escorting him into the chamber. He's going to be introduced and of course, he will be followed by the next president of the United States, Barack Obama.

And then the formal inauguration ceremony will begin, as I said, with Senator Dianne Feinstein welcoming everyone and calling this event to order.

COOPER: This Lincoln bible has not been used in a presidential inaugural ceremony since Abraham Lincoln himself used it. It's normally housed in the Library of Congress.

BLITZER: I also want to point out, I saw the first President Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, walking out earlier with a cane. I'm now told by Gene Becker in the former president's office that he has actually used the cane since his back surgery in December of 2007, and she wants to reassure all of us that former President Bush is in no pain. That's the way he's been since his back surgery back in 2007.

ANNOUNCER: The inaugural coordinator for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Jennifer Griffith, Senate depute sergeant-at-arms, Drew Wilson. House deputy sergeant-at-arms, Carrie Hanley, Senate majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, House majority leader, Representative Steny Hoyer.

BLITZER: All right. So there we see Barack Obama. He is getting ready to become president of the United States. He is not smiling all that much right now. There must be a huge air of anticipation.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

COOPER: The crowds have stretched some two miles all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. We're told (INAUDIBLE) someone back there said there is still some room around the Lincoln Memorial, it's not completely packed. But there is the scene on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Two miles, a sea of faces from all around the world, all around the United States, people who wanted to be here for this very moment. Minutes away from the change in power, a change that so many Americans are hoping for.

BLITZER: And it was by no means easy for these millions to get to Washington, D.C., and to go through all the problems, all the hassle of getting out to the National Mall. But they're there in record numbers, no doubt about that.

And they're extremely excited, but that's nothing compared to what is about to happen in the next few moments once Barack Obama is formally introduced. And then he is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. And that's about to happen in the next few minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think everybody who walks out on to those steps is just struck by this sea of people.

BLITZER: Yes. Barack Obama is about to be introduced, and then the formal inauguration ceremony begins.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the president-elect, staff director for the Joint Congressional Committee on Ceremonies, Howard Gantman, and Senate sergeant-at-arms Terrence W. Gainer. The House sergeant-at-arms, Wilson Livingood. Chairman of Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Robert Bennett, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Senate majority leader, Senator Harry Reid. House majority leader, Representative Steny Hoyer. House Republican leader, Representative John Boehner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I decided to come back.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the president-elect of the United States, Barack H. Obama.

CROWD: Obama! Obama!

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats.

Ladies and gentlemen, the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the honorable Dianne Feinstein.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. President and Vice President, Mr. President-elect and Vice President-elect, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States of America.


FEINSTEIN: The world is watching today, as our great democracy engages in this peaceful transition of power. Here on the National Mall, where we remember the founders of our nation, and those who fought to make it free, we gather to etch another line in the solid stone of history.

The freedom of a people to choose its leaders is the root of liberty. In a world where political strife is too often settled with violence, we come here every four years to bestow the power of the presidency upon our democratically-elected leader.

Those who doubt the supremacy of the ballot over the bullet can never diminish the power engendered by non-violent struggles for justice and equality like the one that made this day possible. No triumph tainted by brutality could ever match the sweet victory of this hour, and what it means to those who marched and died to make it a reality.

Our work is not yet finished, but future generations will mark this morning as the turning point for real and necessary change in our nation. They will look back and remember that this was the moment when the dream that once echoed across history from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial finally reached the walls of the White House.


FEINSTEIN: In that spirit, we today not only inaugurate a new administration, we pledge ourselves to the hope, the vision, the unity and in the renewed call to greatness inspired by the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Thank you, and God bless America.

At this time, I call upon Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, to provide the invocation.


Almighty God, our Father, everything we see and everything we can't see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you, it all belongs to you, it all exists for your glory, history is your story.

The scripture tells us, here, oh Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is one. And you are the compassionate and merciful one, and you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America's peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequalled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today know today that Dr. King, and a great cloud of witnesses, are shouting in heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity.

Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and everyone of our freely elected leaders. Help us, o God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.

As we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations, and all people, will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president, and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care. I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, (INAUDIBLE), Jesus, Jesus, who taught us to pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.


FEINSTEIN: I am so pleased to introduce world-renowned musical artist Aretha Franklin to sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee."



FEINSTEIN: In welcoming my colleagues from Utah, the honorable Robert Bennett.

SEN. ROBERT BENNETT (R), UTAH: It is my great honor to introduce associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Paul Stevens. who will give the oath of office, administer the oath of office to the vice president-elect.

Will you all please stand?

JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I, Joseph Robert F. Biden Jr. do solemnly swear.

JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENT ELECT: I, Joseph Robert F. Biden Jr. do solemnly swear.

STEVENS: That I will support and defend the constitution of the United States.

BIDEN: That I will support and defend the constitution of the United States.

STEVENS: Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

BIDEN: Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

STEVENS: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

BIDEN: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

STEVENS: That I take this obligation freely.

BIDEN: That I take this obligation freely.

STEVENS: Without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

BIDEN: Without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

STEVENS: And that I will well and faithfully discharge.

BIDEN: And I will well and faithfully discharge.

STEVENS: The duties of the office in which I am about to enter.

BIDEN: The duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.

STEVENS: So help me God.

BIDEN: So help me God.

Thank you, Mr. Justice.


FEINSTEIN: It is my pleasure to introduce a unique musical performance. Mr. Itzhak Perlman, violinist, Anthony McGill, clarinetist, Yo-Yo Ma, cellist, and Gabriela Montero, pianist, performing "Air and Simple Gifts," a composition arranged for this occasion by John Williams.