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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Inauguration Day Coverage
Aired January 20, 2009 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're following breaking news, significant news.
Two United States senators, Anderson, apparently have taken seriously ill. Senator Ted Kennedy, only moments ago, was seen being removed from that luncheon on Capitol Hill in a stretcher. And Senator Robert Byrd, the elderly senator from West Virginia, also apparently having a health issue as well.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Some sort of medical event. We don't know exactly the nature of it -- Dana Bash reporting just a few moments ago, based on -- she was told by one Republican senator who was in the luncheon that Senator Kennedy had some form of an event, some sort of a seizure, that continued for quite some time, even as he was put into a wheelchair and taken out.
But Senator Byrd apparently also having some sort of medical condition that required immediate attention. And, again, we're trying to get details on exactly what happened.
Dana Bash is working her sources.
Dana, what are you hearing right now?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here's a little bit of new information about -- and, again, this is still being pieced together, because most people are still in this lunch.
And it -- it goes as following. Senator Robert Byrd apparently had initially a medical issue, and a medical team went into the lunch to assist him. And it was shortly after that, apparently, that Ted Kennedy began to convulse in a very, frankly, violent way is the way it was described to me, in his chair.
Clearly, it was some kind of seizure. And he continued to be -- to seize, even as they put him into a wheelchair or a stretcher kind of mechanism. And, as a matter of fact, Teresa Heinz Kerry, I am told, who, of course, is the wife of John Kerry, the junior senator from Massachusetts, was there trying to assist Ted Kennedy as this was playing out.
But then Ted Kennedy was eventually taken out by a medical team. And he was brought out in a kind of a stretcher or wheelchair sort of contraption. We're waiting to figure out exactly what is happening from there. But, certainly, it sounds like quite a scary scene that went on inside this lunch as it was happening.
And I can tell you that we're told that Ted Kennedy was sitting with Walter Mondale, the former vice president, and his wife, and also senator Daniel Inouye as well. So, they were watching very carefully as to what was going on, with Senator Kennedy seizing up.
Now, you remember, when Ted Kennedy, about nine months ago, first was diagnosed with brain cancer, it was the result of a seizure. He was in his home in Cape Cod. And he had this massive seizure, and nobody really knew what it was until he was diagnosed several days later.
So, this is the shocking and very sad drama that has played out during the celebratory lunch that Barack Obama is having with his former Senate and House colleagues here on Capitol Hill.
BLITZER: And we're looking at these live pictures of the president and first lady now leaving that luncheon, obviously, a damper put on that luncheon by Senator Kennedy and Senator Byrd taking ill. We can only hope for the best.
COOPER: We got a brief glimpse of Senators Byrd and Kennedy, who I think were seated at the same table, earlier. Maybe we will try to re-rack that video and show it to you just before the luncheon began.
This is the video from earlier in the day. There, you see Senator Byrd seated, Barack Obama greeting the seated Senator Byrd. And then to the right, you will see shortly Senator Kennedy.
BLITZER: He looks really good in that picture. I was remarking earlier that's his wife there, Vicki, that they were sitting there with Senator Byrd, all of a sudden, he collapsed, Senator Kennedy.
What a sad moment. These are live pictures we're seeing right now of Senator Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, at this luncheon, which was supposed to be a totally festive event, celebrating the new president of the United States, but clearly a setback on that road.
COOPER: There's no doubt, even as this day moves forward and as these events progress, and the parade will go on, no doubt Barack Obama will be -- President Obama will be checking in, getting updates on both senators' condition, as will we. We will continue to follow this story throughout the day.
But this is a day which is a big day, a day for the country, a day the world is watching. And it is a day which will continue. These events will continue on as scheduled, as is the tradition.
BLITZER: And there you see some of the guests getting ready to leave, the former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, and to the right of your screen. Rahm Emanuel, the new White House chief of staff, is getting ready for a tough assignment as the chief of staff under these difficult circumstances, a horrible economy right now, as we all know, and two wars, plus a war on terror, constant fear of that, and much more. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent, himself a neurosurgeon, is joining us on the phone.
Sanjay, we knew Senator Kennedy had a brain tumor. There was surgery that removed that tumor. And now he's collapsed, apparently at least initial reports suggesting some sort of seizure. He was seen being taken away in a stretcher, presumably to a local D.C. hospital.
What does this say to you?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, when he first had troubles, when the tumor was first diagnosed, he had a seizure. And that was the first alert that there was something going on.
When someone has a seizure that has a known brain tumor, you obviously have to think about things such as the tumor becoming coming back, recurring in some way. You also have to think about medication levels. There are medications that are given to keep the seizures at bay. Did he have enough of those medications in his bloodstream?
That is going to be checked, and just other things, like his labs. Make sure his sodium in his blood is also OK. So, there are several different things could cause a seizure like this. While it's very frightening to look at, it's more importantly sort of a warning to the docs to start looking to see what possibly could be causing this.
My guess is that he will probably get a scan of his brain, and have that scan compared to the scans after his operation or have his blood checked to see if the medication levels in his blood are OK. And he will have his blood checked for all -- any other abnormalities that could have caused this as well.
COOPER: Let's check in with Dana Bash on Capitol Hill.
QUESTION: ... caused some commotion, obviously, as soon as it happened. Was what the reason...
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Well, I would say it's more -- more a concern for his well-being and -- and his family. And, obviously, he's been ill. He's been a courageous fighter, as he always has been his entire career. And he's been fighting this cancer in the same way. But I -- I really don't have any specific information, but our thoughts and prayers certainly go with him and his family.
QUESTION: Senator, did you witness what happened?
BLITZER: All right, Senator John Cornyn, the Republican from Texas, talking about what is happening with Senator Kennedy, Senator Byrd.
Let's listen in, continue to listen in.
CORNYN: ... surprised to find out that one of those people is Teddy Kennedy, somebody who I do not agree with about much from a philosophical or an ideological point of view, but he's -- he's been in the Senate more than 40 years. He's -- he always comes prepared. He's passionate about what he does. And he certainly has been a force in the Senate. So we all wish him -- wish him the best.
QUESTION: Senator, did you see what happened with Senator Byrd, sir?
CORNYN: I don't -- I don't know. I did not see him.
QUESTION: What was the nature of your discussion with Senator Clinton earlier (OFF-MIKE)
CORNYN: Well, I told her my concerns. They're not new concerns. Senator Lugar...
BASH: Now Senator Clinton is talking about something that is going on in the Senate. He's now talking about the fact that he's holding up Senator Clinton's nomination -- confirmation to be secretary of state.
CORNYN: ... foreign countries and foreign individuals to -- to the Clinton Foundation. And there was an agreement entered into between the transition team and...
BASH: We're going to go to Senator Rockefeller now.
Senator Hatch -- Senator Hatch, could you come over and talk to me, please?
COOPER: We're trying to gather information. Literally, you're watching this happening as we speak. That's why some of the awkward communication here.
Senator John Cornyn is now talking about some political procedures on Capitol Hill regarding Hillary Clinton's nomination for secretary of state.
Dana Bash is trying to get -- talk with Senator Orrin Hatch.
Again, what we know is this.
QUESTION: Do you know what happened?
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: ... other side of the room. There was a call for silence throughout the room. The president went over immediately, and the lights went down, just to reduce the heat, I think, and then the lights came back up, and everything went on as normal. And I have absolutely no idea what's happened. I will not...
BASH: Could you repeat that, please? The lights went down when Senator Kennedy started to convulse, is that correct?
ROCKEFELLER: No, after he was down, if he went down. I -- I couldn't see it. I was on the other side of the room. And there was a big crowd over there, really led by the president, who was there instantly. And, you know, I don't know what happened. I don't know what happened.
BASH: So President Obama saw what happened and he went over to aid...
ROCKEFELLER: He not only saw it, but he was over there. He knew something was happening. And he went over there immediately to be helpful.
BASH: What happened when he was removed from the room, sir?
ROCKEFELLER: I don't know that.
ROCKEFELLER: Yes, everybody was silent. Then there was a moment -- a moment of prayerful silence, which would lead you to think it was something serious. On the other hand, it was something Dianne Feinstein decided to do, so I think it was just a sign of respect.
And I have no idea. I think probably it may have been that he was trying to do too much in one day. I have no idea.
BASH: Did something happen previous to that with Senator Byrd? My understanding is that he first had to get medical attention and then this occurred.
ROCKEFELLER: And I'm also unaware, because I -- I was close to him on the platform during the inauguration.
BASH: To Senator Byrd?
ROCKEFELLER: Yes, and he was fine, participating. And -- and I have no idea what might have happened recently.
But generally speaking, it's not a good idea if you are infirm in one way or another to get into to get into large crowds and have people swirling all around you, everybody wishing you well, all kinds of things. It's generally not a good idea.
BASH: So, do you think it was a mistake for Senator Kennedy to come?
ROCKEFELLER: I'm not saying that. I'm just saying, generally speaking, when -- when you submit yourself to that kind of physical and emotional pressure, I'm not sure it's a good idea.
QUESTION: Could you tell if he was conscious at any...
ROCKEFELLER: I have no idea. I -- I never saw him.
QUESTION: You couldn't see him being removed?
ROCKEFELLER: I couldn't. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was fine walking in. He was fine walking in. I spoke to him for a couple of minutes. He was in good form. But, of course, it's very cold outside. It's a little warm in the room. And maybe it was just, you know, too many hours in the day for today.
But we don't know. No one knew in the room. No one knew. Everyone was just respectful and silent.
BASH: Thank you very much. Thank you very, very much. Thank you.
Senator Hatch? Senator Hatch? Could you come talk to us? Excuse me. We're just going to -- Senator Hatch? Senator Hatch, sir, would you come over and talk to us, please? We're live. OK, excuse me.
Senator Hatch, you obviously are -- people might not realize this, because you're a conservative Republican and Ted Kennedy's a liberal Democrat, you're one of his closest friends. Were you with him when this happened? And can you tell us what happened?
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I went down to where he was taken and was with him up until the time they put him in the ambulance. And -- and he apparently had a -- I'm not a doctor, so I hate to characterize it, but it looked like a seizure. And it was painful to him.
But as he gradually was able to calm down, as he got into the ambulance, he kind of looked over at me and smiled that old Irish smile that I know that things are going to be all right. But it's a -- it's a tough thing.
BASH: Did he say anything to you, sir?
HATCH: No, but he didn't say anything to anybody other than, you know -- hopefully he could get the help that he needed.
BASH: Can you take us back in time a bit and take us back into the room and describe what happened that you saw?
HATCH: Well, I didn't see what happened at first. All I know -- at first, I thought it was Senator Byrd they had taken out, and then I heard it was Kennedy. And -- and I was going to go out for whichever one, but especially for Ted, because we've been -- we've fought each other all the time, but we're like fighting brothers.
When we get together, people tend to get out of the way. And we've been able to do some remarkable things for the country. And I just wanted to be with him, and so was Senator Dodd and Senator Kerry, they were there, as well. In fact, they were there before I was.
BASH: And just to be clear, he was -- he was conscious as he was leaving the room?
HATCH: He was. And as he got into the... (CROSSTALK)
HATCH: As he got into the ambulance, he kind of looked over at me and gave that Irish grin, so I feel like he's going to be -- he's going to be all right. He's going to pull through this. But it was -- it was scary.
BASH: It sounds like -- it sounds like that happened after we were told something happened with Senator Byrd, he had some kind of medical condition.
HATCH: ... what happened to Senator Byrd. And, in fact, I just thought maybe it was just Senator Kennedy. At first, they said it was Senator Byrd, but then -- then they said it was Senator Kennedy. And both Senator Dodd and I were at the same table, so we both got up and went down there.
QUESTION: And you talked to Senator Kennedy earlier today. Nothing appeared...
BASH: Thank you.
And, then, Anderson, you just heard there from Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican of Utah, talking about the fact that he -- again, people might not realize this. Because he is a very, very good friend of Ted Kennedy, he walked him, accompanied him to the ambulance.
And he said, clearly, it was scary, clearly, he's concerned, but that, before Ted Kennedy got into the ambulance, he gave him what he called his old Irish grin. So, he says that he feels that he -- you know, he could be OK, given that. And, clearly, he was conscious. But there is still a lot of concern here -- Anderson.
COOPER: We should also point out Capitol Police are saying that Senator Robert Byrd is fine. Again, those early reports were that something may have happened with Senator Byrd.
Clearly, that seems to be maybe something that emanated from the room, some confusion. It is Senator Kennedy who has been taken away in an ambulance. We saw the ambulance just a short time ago. We showed you that video from earlier in the day. We will try to get any updates from the hospital on Senator Kennedy's condition.
COOPER: And Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent, is still with us.
Sanjay, you heard Senator Rockefeller suggest, or at least imply, that perhaps coming to an event like this -- it's cold outside here in Washington, a lot of people around -- that, potentially, that could have contributed to a seizure, if in fact that's what Senator Kennedy suffered through.
Medically speaking -- and you're a neurosurgeon -- is that true? GUPTA: Yes, I don't think so. I don't know that I would say that for someone being in that sort of situation, who has a defined cause of his first seizure, which was a brain tumor, that being in a setting like that would necessarily make it worse.
I think what Senator Byrd might be referring to is, people who have known epilepsy, sometimes, lots of stimulation, changing of lights, things like that can sometimes be inciting factors.
Someone who has a brain tumor and has a seizure as a result of that, it's because of that tumor, where getting the tumor removed, operated, as he had done down at Duke, being on medication to control the seizures, that's really the best way to keep those seizures from coming back.
If someone has a seizure, as sounds like what happened here in Senator Kennedy's case, you have really got to look to those two things and a few other things as the possible inciting causes here. So, at the hospital where he's been taken, my guess is he's going to get a CAT scan of his brain, probably in short order. He's going to have his medication levels checked to make sure everything is OK.
That's really, I think, the key, because it's tough, I think, as doctors, as neurosurgeons, to tell the patient exactly what they can and cannot do. They're usually the best judge of that themselves.
BLITZER: There's no doubt that, if you have a tumor removed in the brain, Sanjay, and then there's another seizure, the immediate suspicion is that perhaps not all of that tumor was removed, or it's metastasized elsewhere.
GUPTA: I think you certainly have to think about that.
And I think we know that, from his initial operation, because his tumor was so close to some very important areas of the brain, all areas of the brain are important, but there are some that are more important than others -- this was a tumor located in one of those areas.
So, it was hard to completely remove. And you're absolutely right, Wolf. You have to think about the fact that the tumor may have started to grow a little bit, started to push on some areas of the brain where it wasn't pushing before.
But, again, I would add to that there are less -- there are reasons that are maybe not as serious that could cause a seizure as well. He likely is on medications to control seizures. If the medication levels dip down for one reason -- maybe he forgot to take one of his pills, or maybe, for whatever reason, the medication level wasn't as high as it should have been -- that is also a very common cause of seizures in someone who's had this type of surgery.
And also, just, you know, normal labs, like sodium, for example, within your blood, if that were to drop down for some reason in someone who wasn't controlling their sodium as well, that could also be a cause of seizures. You have to rule out the worst things first, which is why the doctors are likely going to do that CAT scan, as you're alluding to, immediately, and also check his blood to see if there's anything else of concern that pops up.
BLITZER: All right, well, we're going to be praying for Senator Kennedy.
You heard President Obama say at the beginning he's certainly praying for Senator Kennedy as well.
Sanjay, stand by. We will get back to you.
We will continue to monitor what's going on with Senator Kennedy, and Senator Byrd of West Virginia as well.
Now, these are live pictures that you're seeing of the east steps of Capitol Hill. The president of the United States and the vice president, they're getting ready to leave, walk down those steps, and get into that motorcade, and begin this dramatic parade from Capitol Hill over to the White House, winding up at Lafayette Park right outside the north lawn of the White House.
There will be, Anderson, as we take a look at what's expected to happen in the next few minutes, a troop review and some other festivities going down Capitol Hill, in effect saying goodbye to Capitol Hill, at least on this day.
COOPER: The inaugural parade was supposed to start around 3:35. They're running right now, it looks to be, almost a full hour behind schedule. What is about to occur right now is the House sergeant at arms, Wilson Livingood, and the Senate sergeant of arms, Terrance Gainer, will proceed down the east front steps.
President and Mrs. Obama, Vice President and Dr. Biden will be escorted as well then to the lower landing. They will participate in a troop review and then their motorcades will head out to the White House.
BLITZER: Let's watch and listen.
BLITZER: All right. Here's the presidential limo getting ready to leave the steps, the east front of Capitol Hill, to drive down Pennsylvania Avenue and to begin this parade.
They're about an hour behind schedule right now. But the first family will make their way over to the White House.
Candy Crowley, our senior political correspondent, is in the parade herself.
Candy, tell our viewers your vantage point, because it's going to be unique. You're going to be moving along, together with the president, the vice president, and everyone else who is in that parade.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.
I'm the one on a flatbed truck looking like the Nanook of the North. And he will be the one in the limousine.
CROWLEY: But we are in fact going to be about, I don't know, maybe 200, 300 feet from his limousine.
Obviously, we expect that, at some point, he will get out and walk, as presidents, recently, at least, have done. This is -- I don't know if this is the mother of all parades, but it is up there, 10,000 people participating. You will see horses and high school bands, and something from every state, including the lead team on this parade -- that is after Barack Obama -- which is the ROTC band from high school in Hawaii, as well as the high school band, so a little old home week as he starts this out.
He, of course, is at the head of this parade, so he can get in that viewing stand, where they have invited a number of people to come and watch as they go by. It is a pretty lengthy parade. I can tell you that, but so much fun for these high school kids that are here, are so excited, knowing, of course, that all inaugurations are special, but this one has a chapter in the history books.
BLITZER: And we're going to be showing our viewers your unique vantage point.
Anderson, the parade route is 1.7 miles -- 13,000 parade participants have come to Washington to be part of this. More than 90 musical -- music, cultural and community groups will join representatives from the armed forces in celebrating this new president of the United States.
COOPER: There has always been some sort of inaugural parade.
Ronald Reagan's second inauguration, I think it was, so cold that they actually had to -- was that the first or the second, that it was so cold they had to cancel the parade?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the second inauguration was so cold, they canceled the outdoor ceremonies and then canceled the parade, too. And these high school kids were so disappointed, the president...
BLITZER: At the bottom of the screen, David, if you take a look, you can see we're going to be keeping track of the -- of the route that is going to go from Capitol Hill to the White House.
And we're going to keep that little distinctive mark moving along Pennsylvania Avenue so viewers will know where they are along the 1.7- miles. COOPER: So Reagan's second inaugural, though, they moved it indoors to the stadium.
GERGEN: They moved the second inauguration indoors and Reagan sent word to the high schoolers who had come, who as Candy said, are so excited about things like this. They said, why don't we see you indoors later, don't go out there and freeze. And they -- after the inauguration ceremonies, they had their luncheon, they went over to the coliseum and saw the kids. And they played for them over there. So it was -- it ended well.
BLITZER: I'm just hoping that before it gets dark, they can complete this parade route, because that sun's going to be going down fairly soon. And they've got 13,000 participants who have come a long way to celebrate the president of the United States.
I love that scene. You see that new limo -- the presidential limo. It's just been brought into service for this president. You see the Secret Service officers -- the Secret Service agents walking alongside.
COOPER: It is a tradition, really, I guess since Jimmy Carter, that presidents get out and walk at some point. Jimmy Carter walked the whole way.
GERGEN: He walked the whole way holding Rosalyn's hand, his wife's hand, along with Chelsea there, their young daughter. And it was a -- it was a wonderful people's moment. You know, he was a fellow who carried his own bags and was very -- he was very unpretentious, dropped "Hail to the Chief."
COOPER: I think he bought like a $170 suit just for -- for the inauguration, I read -- just a couple of weeks before the inauguration.
GERGEN: Yes. For that -- yes, but, unfortunately, you know, he was -- they said he was the first president to give a fireside chat and the fire went out.
COOPER: Not a -- obviously, given the security situation these days, the president now is taking his vehicle. But it is anticipated he -- he will walk at some point -- Candy Crowley, I don't know if you can still hear me, in the parade route -- is there a sense of where or how long the president may walk for, if, in fact, he does walk?
CROWLEY: We don't have that information, simply because we are moving now. Sorry. (AUDIO GAP) reasons that's not something they want to have out there, because obviously it's pretty planned where he gets out and walks.
Now, presidents have been known to walk further than the Secret Service has planned and perhaps to walk in places where the Secret Service didn't know they'd get out of the car. But by and large, presidents tend listen to the security agents around them and they've checked out this parade route every which way from Sunday. So it is pre-planned, but, obviously, they don't tell us.
And we aren't not moving now. I'm not sure what you all are seeing. Eventually, our camera will get ahead of the president's limousine. And so you'll be getting a great shot of the president's limousine literally sort of head on as we move down Constitution Avenue onto Pennsylvania Avenue and to the White House as President Obama.
COOPER: It will be interesting to see, Candy -- I don't know if -- we don't know a lot about the inside of this vehicle -- but whether you can actually hear the crowd when you're inside the vehicle, if you can hear what's happening all through that bulletproof glass. Iran you're in an armored vehicle, it is very difficult to get a sense of what's happening outside. We know the glass here is many inches thick. The doors are several inches thick, as well. It will be interesting to know at some point...
BLITZER: I don't think so, Anderson. I've been in -- and you have, as well -- been in armored vehicles. Usually, you can't even open up the windows and you can't hear virtually anything outside, given -- given that -- how thick that armored plate is and the (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: With the (INAUDIBLE) like this, I wonder if they had some sort of listening device just so, for security reasons, people can hear what's happening outside.
BLITZER: You might be right.
O'BRIEN: Well, it was interesting, they actually had really updated security inside. And they've been training the Secret Service specially, because it's so complex, the communications devices inside.
BLITZER: You see that flat bed over...
BLITZER: You see that van over there. I suspect -- Candy, is that you in that van right in front of the presidential limo?
CROWLEY: No, we're -- at the moment, actually, we're waiting for him to come out. We're already on Independence -- I'm sorry, already on Constitution. So he's just turning now off the Capitol Hill grounds on there.
So what you'll see is we're sort of spread across, as you know, Pennsylvania and Constitution are pretty big thoroughfares. They're kind of spread out across.
So now his -- they've got the decoy car, obviously. And then he is right behind us.
So you should get right now from our camera, if you're seeing it, you see the Secret Service walking beside the car. And that's the one that's holding the president. COOPER: You can see some motorcycle police officers in the back. But from our vantage point, what is actually leading this entire motorcade is this remarkable phalanx of motorcycles with side cars, police officers riding. It is four rows deep, each in a V formation. It's a rather extraordinary sight. There it is now. It is a motorcade unlike any we have seen.
CROWLEY: Absolutely. There were so many. And those are the (AUDIO GAP) they were sitting here, who was chasing (AUDIO GAP) more than an hour after the parade was supposed to start (AUDIO GAP) simply because it's been so cold. A lot of them (INAUDIBLE) and they're at the head of this parade.
BLITZER: What a sight. Those motorcycles paving the way for the president of the United States to begin this parade. And they'll be followed by a lot of very, very happy participants who've come in from all over the country.
Don Lemon was telling us, you've been speaking to some of the law enforcement.
What were they saying to you?
LEMON: A guy who worked on presidential details and said this is, by far, the largest undertaking when it comes to protecting a president. And wherever he's going to get out and walk, it is planned, as Candy, said, planned out very well -- it's very well planned out to make sure that he is completely protected when he does get out and walk.
And a lot of people, when you sit at home and watch this, you sort of, you know, hold your breath as the president gets out, because you fear a little bit for his safety. But I think with, you know, the security we have now, at least this president, hopefully everything will be safe.
GERGEN: And it really is -- the presidency has become a gilded cage. And this is going to be very hard for him to adjust to. The elaborate precautions that are totally appropriate. The Secret Service is doing a right thing. I don't think there is such a thing as access in a parade like this.
COOPER: The world looks different, though, when you're looking at it through bulletproof glass.
GERGEN: It sure does. It sure does.
BLITZER: The motorcade is beginning with those motorcycles. They're moving down Pennsylvania Avenue. In fact, they're approaching not very far from where we are right now here at Sixth and Pennsylvania. And they're getting ready for the -- for the presidential limo to follow suit.
COOPER: That's the view from the Newseum. A lot of folks inside viewing the motorcade as it passes by -- a great vantage point to stay warm and see it from this remarkable museum.
BLITZER: And we're up on the roof at this museum, so we have a good vantage point, as well.
You know, these Secret Service agents that are going to be accompanying the limo, they're going to be walking the whole time. You see four of them. They walk in front and behind. And presumably once the president gets out of that limo and walks a little bit with the first lady, we'll -- we'll be able to enjoy that moment. It will be one of those traditional moments here on this Inaugural Day.
COOPER: There is a...
BLITZER: It's been quite a day to begin with. It's been an amazing day when you think about everything that has happened, Anderson. And on top of everything else, Senator Ted Kennedy getting ill once again at that luncheon. And we're following that story, as well. We'll update our viewers with what we know as soon as we get more information.
COOPER: There's an eight person color guard actually there leading this procession right behind the motorcycle police officers who you saw. So really they are going at a very -- a walking pace. We're not sure if they're going to speed up at some point. But certainly Barack Obama waving to folks who have lined the parade route. People are very excited. You can kind of get a glimpse of him, a silhouette of him inside that vehicle. And for many, that -- that is enough.
BLITZER: And just remember, the bottom of your screen, we're mapping out the route that he's taking from Capitol Hill to the White House -- the final reviewing stand over there in Lafayette Park, outside the North Lawn of the White House. And so you'll have a sense of how far along this parade route he is. It's 1.7 miles, as we've been saying.
COOPER: This is the view that Barack Obama himself is getting from we -- from our camera, which is on a truck right in front of the presidential vehicle.
GERGEN: This is the first inaugural parade we've had in which most of the people who've watched the parade will not have been at the inaugural itself. They simply -- there was simply not room. So you had to make a choice what you would see. And I think it gives you some sense of just how gigantic this crowd truly has been today.
BLITZER: Some sense of the marching bands and the color and the...
COOPER: That's the color guard which is leading the entire procession.
BLITZER: Yes. Then eventually, you'll see a lot of floats.
All right, we have a special guest I want to talk to right now.
Congressman John Lewis is joining us, one of the real pioneers in the civil rights movement in the United States.
This is a moment you've been waiting for, Congressman, for a very long time.
First of all, how did you react when he became the president of the United States?
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: When Barack Obama stood and took the oath of office and became the president of the United States, I continued to just look and look. And I started saying to myself, this is unreal. This is unbelievable.
Then I was able to look beyond the Lincoln -- well, the Washington Monument and see the Lincoln Memorial. And then my mind started reflecting back to the suffering, the struggles, the arrests, the jailings, the beatings, to the people who stood in the unmovable lines, to Dr. King, to Robert Kennedy, to John Kennedy and to Lyndon Johnson. And I wish -- I wish only so that they all were here to witness what we all witnessed today here on the west front of the United States Capitol.
BLITZER: You saw the dark days of the civil rights movement back in the '60s and even darker in the '50s.
Did you ever think you would reach this moment?
LEWIS: During those dark and difficult and bitter days, I never thought that I would live to see this moment. This is a moment of hope. It's a moment of gratitude, a moment of thanksgiving. It only could happen in America, that we could come so far in such a short time.
BLITZER: What did you think of the message we heard from the president in his inaugural address?
LEWIS: Well, the president today, he spoke honestly, straightforward and told us that we have some difficult days ahead, that the country is in a tough period. But by pulling together and working together, we can overcome.
That was the beginning of the message. And I think it was important for him to speak very candidly with the American people, to say that we have came -- that we've been able to come through struggles and difficulties before and we can do it again.
BLITZER: Congressman Lewis, this is all happening the day after we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You worked with him, you knew him, you fought with him.
Had he been alive today, what would -- what would he think?
LEWIS: If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Had been alive today, he would have said, I told you. I told you that one day we would make it to the promised land. As he said the night before he was assassinated, he said, "I've been to the mountaintop, I looked over and I seen the promised land and we will get there as a people. I may not get there with you, but as a people and as a nation, we will get there."
Well, we may not be there yet. But I think what happened today with the inauguration of this young man as president, it is a significant down payment on making the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. Become a reality.
BLITZER: I know you've waited a long time for this, Congressman Lewis.
Thanks so much for sharing some thoughts with us here on CNN.
Our viewers in the United States and around the world are grateful to you.
We appreciate it very much.
LEWIS: Well, thank you, sir.
BLITZER: Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, the Democrat, the legendary civil rights leader.
All right, you see the parade. It's continuing. And it's down Pennsylvania Avenue, not very far away from where we are. In fact, right now we're high above this parade route.
COOPER: The -- it's remarkable to see all these military platoons -- the Army platoons, the Marines, the Fife and Drum Corps, the Commander-In-Chief's Guard. We don't get to see this thing very much in this country. But it is always remarkable when we get to this, when we're able to.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break, but continue our special coverage. There it is, the presidential limo. Inside, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States. Actually, we're not going to take a quick break.
We're going to continue our coverage.
You see this parade route moving down. They're coming -- they're approaching where we are here at the Newseum on Sixth and -- between Fifth and Sixth on Pennsylvania Avenue -- Soledad, John Lewis lived to see this moment. And we all remember what he went through. And it really wasn't all that long ago -- within the lifetime, not only his lifetime, but a lot of people's lifetime right now who are watching.
Remind our viewers what he went through.
O'BRIEN: Well, you know, he told us yesterday that he didn't think he would be able to make it through the ceremony without -- without crying. And he has been crying, really, the entire weekend.
Of course, he was a pioneer in the civil rights struggle, a close associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. beaten brutally. He really committed himself to fighting segregation. But, also, you know, some of his words have been echoed by some of the young people who are so excited to be part of this parade, who told me the same thing -- I don't think I can march in the parade without crying. I'm going to try to make it through.
It's been really exciting. And when you think that there's some 1,300 applicants -- three times the number usually for inauguration -- an inaugural parade. It's really exciting.
So it's -- it's a nice -- a nice connection between the past and the present -- the young people who are out here today in all these marching bands and some of the old-timers who've had a chance to really remind the younger people of their history. Because I think a lot of people forget who these civil rights icons are.
BLITZER: Don Lemon is one of those young-timers.
BLITZER: The generation born well after John Lewis was beaten and Dr. Martin Luther King delivered that "I Have A Dream" speech. But you're living through -- you're enjoying the benefits of what they did.
LEMON: Absolutely. And any -- any African-American who has succeeded in this country and society, we, you know, do it on the backs of those people who have done that.
I just want to read, Wolf, an e-mail from a viewer. It's very quick. And it says: "To Don Lemon, when the cameras focus on the motorcade that read USA One with Barack Obama in it, it felt so surreal. I cannot stop crying. I feel my struggle and march with MLK and Reverend Jamison with Mount Zion Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, along with students from Southern University, it was all worth it."
So that's a sentiment that's coming off of that today out there.
BLITZER: David Gergen, it was all worth it, indeed, because this is a moment so many people wanted to see, so many people thought they'd never see.
GERGEN: Absolutely. And John Lewis was in the forefront of that. And he wrote a memoir two or three years ago that's very worth reading by the younger generation about his experiences. And he was just a young man. But he was an organizer of the March on Washington in 1963. And he was given a place on the podium to speak. They limited how long he could speak. They only gave him five minutes. But he gave a terrific speech.
That was in 1963. And, of course, in 1964, he was in Selma and he was -- he got his head beaten in. He had a concussion on the Pettus Bridge in that march.
COOPER: And you think about how young they all were. I mean, Martin Luther King, Jr. Was 26 years old when he started to organize the bus boycott in Birmingham, Alabama, which is just...
O'BRIEN: Fred Gray was 24 years old when he was representing Rosa Parks...
O'BRIEN: ...and bringing that case to national attention.
GERGEN: But that's what the spirit that they're rekindling now. These young people out here want to be that new generation of young leaders.
BLITZER: The president of the United States, Barack Obama, and the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, in that car -- that limousine. They're moving down Pennsylvania Avenue. They're heading toward that reviewing stand over there at Lafayette Park, outside of the north portico of the White House.
We'll continue our coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama in just a moment.
BLITZER: All right. The parade is now moving down Pennsylvania Avenue, not far from where we are, making its way over to the White House. The president of the United States in that limo, surrounded by a U.S. Secret Service agents. They're making sure that everything is safe and sound. As it is, this has been a remarkably calm and peaceful day, even though millions have come to Washington to honor this new president of the United States.
Tom Foreman is going to show us the route that the president and the parade -- the motorcade are taking right now. And you'll better understand what's going on at the bottom of your screens.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
When you look at the map right now, they're right at the corner of Constitution and Pennsylvania. The blue dot right there is this parade. The whole route, this yellow line from the Capitol to the White House over here, is only about a mile-and-a-half but it will feel like an eternity. It could take up to two hours to do the entire length.
Along this way, is where you'll see many members of the public. They'll come to our location where you are, Wolf, at the Newseum shortly. They'll come on down closer to the middle of town where, where they will turn. And they will head right up here to the edge of the South Lawn of the White House.
This gets very tight in this area. Lots of people getting in that last moment of watching the parade. Then they'll come up and turn right in front of the White House. And there, that last little stretch, is where they'll come to that official viewing stand that we've seen many times. That's where the president will get off. And he will get into the viewing stand to watch the remainder of the parade. And there are dignitaries there right now watching the parade coming, eagerly awaiting for his arrival -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right.
Thanks very much, Tom.
There it is, Anderson -- the presidential limo moving slowly -- very slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue. And everyone is wondering as they watch this limo go forward, when will the president of the United States decide to go outside with the first lady and wave to all those people who have gathered and have come to Washington, D.C.
COOPER: For the folks who are waiting for this and have been waiting for many hours, it is moving too slowly. For the folks who the president is just passing by, it is probably moving too fast. They want to try to savor the moments they can seeing Barack Obama -- President Obama -- for the first time, the first time he's riding in this vehicle as president of the United States.
BLITZER: We're joined now by a special guest.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson has come up here to join us.
Welcome, Reverend Jackson.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: (INAUDIBLE) box and thoughts (INAUDIBLE) much faster.
COOPER: That's right.
BLITZER: How do you feel about what's going on in our country?
JACKSON: This is a seminal moment. There is abounding joy. There are those who feel achievement, those who feel accomplishment, those who feel redemption. And all these emotions are converging. And yesterday, I thought in his address that he was warning us that while it's high noon in our politics, it's midnight in our economy. And, therefore, some measure of sacrifice and time and effectiveness must be given time to take place. I thought he kind of balanced it off.
BLITZER: You can see through the windows of that presidential limousine, the president and first lady -- they're waving as they go by. And they're -- they've got those broad smiles, which is totally understandable that they've reached this moment -- a dramatic moment in our history.
Did you break down, Reverend Jackson, and cry a little bit when he became president?
JACKSON: I'll tell you, if I were to cry, my eyes would have turned to icicles so my heart bled instead. It was -- to me, I was listening to him speak and I could not help but think about the journey to get there. And it is that journey that makes this such a huge moment for America and for the world. I mean people today in France and England and Africa -- people invest so much hope in President Barack Obama. And because our economic crisis is so severe -- we've not seen the bottom of it yet. And because wars are (INAUDIBLE).
But I mean he's going to get all of that trust in his bank -- in his trust bank to pull together a coalition to make it happen.
And so a lot is invade in him. And I think that together, we're equal to the task. At least he does not come in -- he comes in with a down economy, but he comes in with a bank of good will that's almost unparalleled.
BLITZER: The expectations, as you know, are enormous right now. And he's got a full plate of the most important issues awaiting him -- not just tomorrow. Today. Right now.
BLITZER: National security issues, a horrible economic situation.
Can he deliver?
JACKSON: Well, that's why I said, you know, in Chicago, November 4th was the engagement, today was the big wedding and then the marriage has begun. He needs enough of a honeymoon to get his -- his house in order.
But I'm going to guess that Democrats and Republicans, we have a shared interest in reviving our economy. This does take us above partisanship, at least for a moment. We have a shared interest in this India/Pakistan tension -- both with nuclear weapons. Or the Gaza crisis is upon us. And so I think that because of all of this...
BLITZER: All right...
JACKSON: ...he has some time.
BLITZER: Stand by, Reverend Jackson.
We're going to continue our coverage, the inauguration of President Barack Obama will resume right after this.