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President Obama Reviews Inaugural Parade

Aired January 20, 2009 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He's going to be speaking to his fellow Texans in Midland on this day, the day he stopped being president of the United States, the day he became a former president of the United States.
And, look, he's got a nice crowd of people who have shown up in Texas to honor him, to honor his eight years as president of the United States.

A nice split-screen, Soledad, what's happening in Washington right now, and what's about to happen in Texas.


And it was interesting to see earlier as well, when they showed -- when we were able to show from around the country different people who were watching the inauguration. I mean, to get the sense of how involved and how interested people are this time around has been really interesting.

I mean, in Times Square, it looked like people had stopped. In Times Square, people were standing and watching the Jumbotron, watching the coverage. It was quite remarkable.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: As interesting as the number is going to be who -- how many were actually here will be the numbers on how many watched in the United States, and how many watched worldwide, because I think particularly that worldwide number is going to be much higher than anybody would have anticipated for an American inauguration a few months ago.

BLITZER: I would like to think that, you know, we here at CNN, we played a little role in helping people not only across the United States, but around the world, show what's happening in this country, because people no doubt in huge numbers are watching. They're watching every second of this.

In fact, I'm getting e-mails from people all over the world. In fact, I want to welcome, make sure our viewers around the world are welcomed here, as we continue our coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama here in THE SITUATION ROOM, what an exciting event, and what an exciting opportunity for all of us to have this front-row seat to history as it unfolds.

Hilary Rosen, our analyst, is here as well.

Hilary, as you see this going on, and these great marching bands performing for the president of the United States, what goes through your mind? I don't know if Hilary Rosen is hearing me. Unfortunately, she is not. But we will get back to Hilary Rosen. She will be hearing us fairly soon.

But you see the marching bands continuing right now, lots of excitement. Gloria Borger is going to be especially happy that the Montana delegation is going to be coming forward pretty soon as well.


BLITZER: Gloria a part-time resident of Montana.

So, that will bring back some nice thoughts for you and your family, Gloria.

BORGER: Snow. Yes, lots of snow.

O'BRIEN: A lot of historically black colleges are performing in the inaugural parade.

BORGER: You know what I'm thinking about, though, today is what we have witnessed. And every time we witness this smooth transfer of power, it's a majestic, yet, at the same time, it's sort of this simple ceremony where one president is in, and one president just leaves and goes back home, goes back home to Midland, Texas. The other president says goodbye to him.


GERGEN: It's reaffirming.

BORGER: It is. Reaffirming is the word I'm searching for. It truly is.


DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I think David is right when he talks about the numbers of people watching all across the world.

You look at the numbers of people who showed up for when he was running in Europe, hundreds of thousands of people. And Barack Obama, according to the European press, is not only just a political leader, but he is a cultural icon now and some say in the ranks -- or at least joining the ranks of a Nelson Mandela.

And that's how the rest of the world looks at him. So, I'm sure, you know, people all over the world are watching in very high numbers, Wolf.

BLITZER: We just saw the Hampton University Marching Force go by., representing Hampton, Virginia, its first time in an inaugural parade.

They played, by the way, with Stevie Wonder, a great song, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." That was almost a theme song for the Obama campaign. That's being followed now by the AmeriCorps Alumni. This is an element symbolically dedicated to public service. AmeriCorps has come a long way over these years, serving millions of -- millions of people around the country. And the alumni have been coming forward since John F. Kennedy's call to service and the original conception of VISTA, the Volunteers In Service To America program. That was way back in 1961.

All right, let's get some analysis from some of -- from our other contributors. Amy Holmes is joining us.

Amy Holmes is joining us.

Amy, I hope you can hear me, because this is a pretty exciting moment as these parades continue to go before the president.

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it's an extraordinary occasion.

And we just saw on the screen AmeriCorps coming down the parade. AmeriCorps was a program, as you know, created by Bill Clinton. But George Bush doesn't get credit for this. He grew that agency to a billion-dollar agency. I worked for AmeriCorps. So, I was there when it happened. And he asked Americans to serve.

Conservatives, they wanted to cut the program. But George Bush said, no, this is important, especially after 9/11. And John was just telling me that Michelle Obama intends to make this a big focus of her first ladyship. And that, I applaud her.

Earlier, you were talking about Barack Obama and his ability to connect to young people. AmeriCorps is one way to do that. But I will tell you, when you were pointing up the images of him going hang 10 to his Hawaiian high school, the people behind us, they roared. They were clapping. They loved it.

When he would just do a little dance, do a little jig, that too was signaling that he's a younger leader. The generational torch has passed. And he really connects with those younger voters.

BLITZER: I know. And it's a good point.

Hilary Rosen, you're watching this with all of us as well. You have worked hard for the Democrats over these many years. And you must be thrilled.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it is so nice actually to see them -- see the Obamas sitting in the reviewing stand smiling and dancing. And I was sitting here thinking how nice it is to have a president with rhythm again, that we have got a president who likes to dance, a first lady who clearly is enjoying the music, that there is a vigor that this family brings.

And I think it's something that is so desperately needed by the country right at this moment. I thought it was poignant when President Obama in the inaugural address said that it's not just that the country has problems. It's that our confidence has been sapped.

And I think that just the visual of their energy and enthusiasm, you know, bolsters that confidence.

BLITZER: The world-famous Lawn Rangers coming in from amazing Arcola. We're talking about Arcola, Illinois. They're making their first appearance in this inaugural parade. These masked men are starting their 28 years -- continuing their 28 years of crowd-pleasing precision marching.

You see some guy dressed like Abraham Lincoln as well, not surprising, given that he's from Illinois.

Leslie Sanchez, what do you think?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it's tremendously excited.

I have to agree about the excitement and the vigor and the freshness that this brings to this country. I thought the homage that President Obama paid to immigrants, there was a theme in the beginning there where he was talking about the people that have built this country, the hard work.

And any different community could identify that that was somebody from their family, somebody from their heritage. , you know, anybody who sought political or economic freedom, any types of freedom. It was a connect --a bond to connect.

But with respect to young people, I think what's fascinating, an e-mail already went out to all of their supporters saying, thank you for your support. That came out before he was actually named president -- excuse me -- sworn in.

And that kind of connectivity is I think what young people are excited about and why they're paying attention to politics for the first time. You have hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, who are watching today who have never been involved in politics or public service, who are taking a different look at this country and what they can do.

And the last part I would say is, this kind of technology has changed everything from a 24/7 news cycle, which was past presidents and how they deal with it. It's now it's a two- to four-second tweet cycle, where people are going to want instant contact with this government, with this president. And how he manages to bring that connection together is going to be something to watch.

BLITZER: It's an amazing, amazing development.

This is the Blue Springs High School Golden Regiment Marching Band. They have come in from Blue Springs, Missouri, making their first appearance in this inaugural parade as well.

O'BRIEN: ... (AUDIO GAP) the precision Lawn Mower drill team. The motto, I might add -- and I know they have just passed by a moment ago -- they say, you're only -- from Arcola, Illinois -- and they say, you're always young once, but you can always be immature.


O'BRIEN: So, clearly, a great sense of humor. And then they go back to the marching band that follows them.

BLITZER: And I love it when the first family now, they get really into it, they move around. They're experiencing the music. They're feeling the music.

And, speaking of music, we have a special guest joining us right now, the great Quincy Jones.

What do you think, Quincy?

Actually, we're going to speak to Quincy Jones in a moment. We will speak to him right after we come back, our continuing coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. We will resume with Quincy Jones right after this.


BLITZER: They're continuing to move forward, the parade. These floats, all of these floats are so, so exciting, so beautiful. It's exciting for the president and the first lady. There's no doubt about that.

As we watch the parade, you're always going to see the parade here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I want to go to our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, because he's got some news that he's working on high on the agenda of this new administration.

Ed, what have you learned?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Wolf.

We're just picking up information that, according to White House officials, new White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has signed a memo today that has gone to all federal departments and agencies, basically saying they need to stop all pending regulations that were put in place by the Bush administration in the final days until the new Obama administration can conduct a full legal review.

This is somewhat standard, in the sense that a new administration will always come in and take a look at what was done, the so-called midnight regulations, what the outgoing administration did on the way out. But what you can bet in the days ahead is, this will lead to all kinds of changes, potentially by executive order, potentially by legislation, in which the Obama administration will try to undo various policies that the Bush administration put through in the final days -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry watching the story for us, keeping a close eye, as he will be over the years to come.

The president already taking some steps through his chief of staff to get some decisions under way.

As we listen to this music, no one is better to talk about music, even music of this sort, than Quincy Jones, the legend. And he's joining us right now to talk about what he sees happening.

Quincy, thanks very much for coming in on this historic day.

And there's a story out there that the whole notion of Barack Obama thinking about running for president of the United States was discussed with you way back in 2005. Tell our viewers what happened at your kitchen table.

QUINCY JONES, MUSIC PRODUCER: Well, we were at the kitchen table in my home right here, and Oprah came by, and she was sitting to my left. I'm sitting here and it was Barack and Michelle next to me.

And I didn't realize that they were going this term. I didn't realize it at the time. And it was the most incredible conversation when I saw this man's mind. And what I admired about him most -- and I see the applications every day -- of where, if it gets -- he runs into difficult times, he does not lose control. And he tries to sit and figure it out.

He knows he has to have a diagnosis before he gives a prescription. And if it gets real good, he doesn't get overjoyed. And it's beautiful to have a centered leader like that, among many other things he has. He's very hip. He understands the street. He understands the upper echelon. He understands everything. And it's like something I can't even believe I'm watching. I just wish my father and my brother were here.


BLITZER: Quincy, how did that conversation with you, Oprah and now the president of the United States, how did that unfold? What did he say to you as you were -- did he ask you what you thought about that possibility?

JONES: Well, at that time, we weren't sure when he was going to run. It was that premature.

And then I ran into him again at the primaries in Iowa. And he came up. I asked, was he there? And he came upstairs and knocked on the door, and we talked awhile and so forth. And then one thing just led to another. And, boy, has he got an amazing team. He's got what you look for as a musician, amazing brass section, woodwinds and a rhythm section.


JONES: He's really something special.

O'BRIEN: Hey, Quincy. It's Soledad.


JONES: My biggest dream is -- I know he's got his hands full with the economic fallout and with the Gaza, et cetera, and so (INAUDIBLE) long time.

And, on a parallel path, though, I'm going to -- as soon as it's feasible, to talk to him. We're getting a petition together for a secretary of the arts with a real Cabinet membership and all, because America is the only country -- whose music is probably most imitated in any country in the world -- the only country without a minister of culture or a secretary of the arts. And I think it's very important, could change this country...


O'BRIEN: I know you put that proposal forward before.

Quincy, Soledad O'Brien is here. She wants to talk to you as well.

JONES: Who is that?

O'BRIEN: I was going to ask you about the impact of Barack Obama, but actually...

BLITZER: Soledad O'Brien is here. And she's going to ask you a question.

O'BRIEN: Hey, Quincy. It's Soledad.


JONES: You're so cute, girl, Soledad.


O'BRIEN: I'm so cute?


O'BRIEN: Quincy, you know I love you right back.


JONES: You're so cute, good God. O'BRIEN: Who did you think should be secretary of the arts?


BLITZER: She's asking a serious question, Quincy, and you're trying to be not so serious.


O'BRIEN: I'm getting nowhere.


Who do you want to be the secretary of arts or the culture minister in the United States?

JONES: Who is that?

BLITZER: Who do you want to be secretary of arts?

JONES: Well, what we're doing before that is we're putting together a summit, so you will have the greatest minds on the planet, you know, that can be like an advisory board to that.

I'm trying to think strategic, too, because I'm cognizant of what he's up against. And I know we're not at the top of the list. But I think it's a very, very important element. The culture of a country is probably the soul of a country. And I'm idealistic enough to think that things like Columbine and these things wouldn't exist if these kids knew what they stand for or an international basis.


BLITZER: All right, it's a fair point. And I'm sure it will be a subject for discussion.

Don Lemon, our CNN anchor, is watching all of this unfold. He wants to weigh in with a question for you.

LEMON: Hey, Quincy, as you watch this, and you watch Barack Obama, who comes from a mixed family, and you yourself have a mixed family, what do you...


JONES: And I'm from Chicago. We came from the same place.


LEMON: And from Chicago, yes.

What do you think this means to especially America, when it comes to this big tent that Barack Obama is talking about and including and accepting everyone?

JONES: I never, ever thought I would ever see it. I'm going to be very straight with you.

And I even got calls from about 14 or 15 heads of state, big guys, afterwards, because I have been traveling the world a long time on goodwill tours 50 years ago with Dizzy Gillespie (INAUDIBLE) in Damascus and Tehran and Iran -- Iran, and all these places.

So, I have seen the evolution of a lot of the hard -- the things we're going through today. But it's -- I think he is going to turn the world around. I really do.

BLITZER: David Gergen, our senior political analyst, Quincy, is here as well.

He's blunt, David, in saying he never thought he would see this day. But, yet, Quincy Jones and everyone else who is alive has seen this day -- David.

GERGEN: Absolutely.

Quincy Jones, you just said you have traveled the world, playing, as you have. What should a secretary of the...

GERGEN: Fifty-four years.

GERGEN: Wow. What should a secretary of the arts do internationally for America? What would you like to see happen?

JONES: Let's start at home. We can start.

So, what I find -- and I just had a conversation with a kid in Seattle when I did the -- went to my old high school, Garfield in Seattle.

And I asked them, did you name who Louis Armstrong was? They said, I heard the name. What about John Coltrane and Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker? They said, I don't know who they are.

And that hurts me so much, that they're not aware of who the giants are, like the three B's in Germany who are aware of their culture, but they're aware of ours, too, or Russia, or France or anyplace else, Japan. And I have experienced it. And it hurts.

I just got promoted to the commander of the Legion d'honneur. And I almost cried. And Marilyn Bergman said the same thing with the arts and sciences -- Arts and Letters, that we don't have a (INAUDIBLE) so to speak, to represent the arts in an official Cabinet position. It's very important...


BLITZER: Fair enough.

Quincy Jones, on this historic day, thanks so much for joining us. It's always good to speak with you. We will see what happens with your proposal. And it's fascinating to hear about that conversation between you and Oprah and Barack Obama back in 2005. Quincy Jones joining us on this historic day.

JONES: God bless you, Wolf. Nice to hear you.

BLITZER: Thanks. Thanks very much, Quincy Jones.

When we come back, we're going to be talking with John King. He's getting close to an estimate, how many people actually came to Washington, D.C., to participate -- to participate in this historic event, the eyewitnesses to history. We're going to go back to John King.

We're also standing by to hear from members of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s family on this day after we celebrated his life and his times.

Much more of our coverage coming up -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. The inauguration of Barack Obama will resume right after this.


BLITZER: The marching band, the floats continue in front of the president of the United States and the first lady of the United States. They're all having a great time.

It's not over with, by any means. They're enjoying what they're seeing, and as they should enjoy what they're seeing.

Soledad O'Brien is enjoying it. I'm enjoying it. It's been a remarkable day, and people got really emotional.

Kate Bolduan is down there on the National Mall with some stories of how people reacting to this amazing day -- Kate.


Well, as you can guess, they came early, and they packed this Mall. But take a look at what I see now. People came early, but they left early as well, as you can see, and in the place of all the people, now hundreds of bags of trash, some people here still looking on the Jumbotrons, as they look at the parade.

But as I was walked amongst the people as they experienced that moment, they all said they had to be here for it, some saying it's overwhelming, some saying they couldn't describe it. But, clearly, it was emotional. Listen here.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): The long wait, the cold temperatures, the moment they were waiting for.



ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been here since 2:00 this morning. And I thank God that I was able to see it.

BOLDUAN: The witnesses to history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to have a moment to myself and just cry. I can't put it into words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seemed so unlikely at first that this man, you know, this man with this -- with his name and his background, that this person could become our president. And I just -- I think it's unbelievable and so exciting.

BOLDUAN: The massive crowd came from across the country, spanning generations, for many, the day meaning so much more than a transition of power, a day to capture, a day to remember.


BOLDUAN: As you can see, Wolf, with -- with so many people, the focus has now clearly shifted from celebration here on the Mall to the parade, and will very quickly move to the White House with the work ahead -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lots of work ahead. Kate Bolduan, thanks very much.

Brian Todd is also watching what's going on.

Brian, there were some disappointed folks who came all the way to Washington, D.C., wanted to get through the police barricades, the metal detectors, but, unfortunately, weren't able to do so. You have some of their stories.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, we do, Wolf. This was a real study in contrasts today out here, thousands of people coming away very angry and frustrated, while others just exalted in the moment.


TODD (voice-over): For thousands, the proximity to history was a moment to savor and celebrate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Indescribable, how I feel. These are my parents. These are my children. It's just unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the world has changed. And I'm so excited about it.

TODD: But many others won't forget the clogged security checkpoints and the frustration of coming so close, only to be disappointed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think of the security procedures so far? Are they working well?

TODD: Security at some points along the perimeter got overwhelmed, even in the predawn hours. The volume meant a slow trickle into one area along the parade route. Some turned and left. Others got through, only to be told they weren't allowed into areas they had tickets for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, everywhere I go, they tell me to go somewhere else. But you can't get in. And you're freezing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I missed my first day of college for this.

TODD: Some of these people had so-called silver tickets that they say should have gotten them on the Mall, but they were turned away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's stopping us from walking across the street, huh, with the credentials?


TODD: Now, we asked a Secret Service spokesman about that. He said the only way that some of the agency people here would have turned those people away is if some of those areas were already too full to be safe, so, they had to turn people away, even those who had those so-called silver tickets to get them to the Mall.

Still, Wolf, a lot of people came away very angry and frustrated. They got so close, and yet they couldn't see what they had tickets to see. And others didn't even get through the security perimeters. I think it is going to develop as a pretty big story of this inauguration.

BLITZER: Always some snafus there, and always some depressed people as a result of that, understandably so.

But at least they were in Washington, D.C., as we continue to watch the Windsor High School Marching Band move forward as well, the president of the United States, the first lady of the United States enjoying this parade, as all of us are.

It's continuing, still, Soledad, no end in sight. It looks like there are still several more going forward. This Windsor High School Marching Band Marching Band, by the way, is from Windsor, Colorado. It's -- it's making its first appearance at an inaugural parade.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, a moment ago, we saw the Lesbian and Gay Band Association marching band go by. And that's really history making, as well, making their first appearance, too. It's the first time, also, that an openly gay and lesbian group has been invited to march in the inaugural parade.

BLITZER: Well, they're moving forward with more of the sights and sounds of a beautiful, beautiful day. We're getting ready, Don Lemon, to speak with the members of the King family -- the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Family. They're going to be coming here to reflect on this day. And I know that you're excited about this, because it's an emotional moment for all of us, but especially for them.

LEMON: It certainly is an emotional moment for them. And, you know, sort of culminating with Dr. King's Day -- birthday yesterday. And we had coverage. Soledad led our coverage all day yesterday and talking to the civil rights leaders who worked alongside Dr. King. And if not working alongside of him, at least had the same mission as him.

It was sort of a culmination of everything that they had worked for. Still saying that we have a long way to go, but at least we're reaching there and we're -- we've got the potential to do it.

O'BRIEN: Yes. I think it's very clear, the point they were making yesterday, which, was, remember, Dr. King was talking about economic parity. And so it's one step forward for an African-American to be in the White House.

LEMON: Right.

O'BRIEN: I mean that's -- there's no question about it, that we are watching history.

But there's more. And Martin Luther King III certainly talks a lot about how poverty, for all Americans, is an issue that we, as a nation, have to confront.

LEMON: But it's interesting, too. It's going to be interesting to talk to them, Wolf and Soledad, and hear what they were seeing through their eyes and feeling their own feelings about this. And I'm wondering -- my first question I think will be do you feel like this is a passing of the torch to your dad, because he is such an icon. And everyone looks up to him when it comes to civil rights.

And I'm wondering now if this torch has now passed to Barack Obama, in their eyes.

BLITZER: All right, guys, coming forward now, the Iowa State University marching band, making its first appearance in this inaugural parade. The band recognized nationally for its tradition of excellence. The band has performed, understandably, at the Ohio State University football games. But get this, since 1878, it has participated in hundreds of parades and events throughout the United States.

It has the largest all brass and percussion ensemble in the world. And it looks like Barack Obama is especially happy to be hearing from the Ohio State University marching band.

It will be followed, Soledad, by Boy Scout Troupe 358. Wow! They're coming in from all over. This Boy Scout troupe coming from the Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, Pennsylvania.

I think all of the states are being represented in this parade before the president of the United States and the first lady. And remember, after this parade, they have to go back into the White House, they have to change, put on their tuxedos, their gowns and get ready to participate.

How many balls -- official balls are there, 10 or 12?

O'BRIEN: There's at least 10.

BLITZER: Or something like that.

LEMON: There's at least that and more.

BLITZER: And it's -- it's going to be a long, long night for this first day as the president of the United States.

LEMON: It is. And it's -- you know, we were talking about the grueling schedule. And, unfortunately -- I hate to bring Ted Kennedy up, but the grueling schedule of these events, it didn't just start yesterday. And for many people who work here in Washington and who work in our government, they have been -- they have been doing events for days and days and days.

So it's -- you know, for a healthy person, it's tough. So for someone who's suffering with health issues, it's even tougher.

BLITZER: As we watch the parade continue, the participants -- thousands of them who've come to Washington -- I want to reflect a little bit on what this day has been like.

Our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, is joining us now -- Dan, viewers, I'm sure, want to see everything that happened. And a lot of viewers, unfortunately, couldn't see all of it, as we did today, because many of them had to work.

But you've got a little recap of what has happened on this remarkable day.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And I want to point out that noise you hear in the background as the bands continue to go down the street right here -- Pennsylvania Avenue, right to my right. The review stand right to my right, as well. So that's the noise that you hear in the background, that celebration continuing.

The president expected to attend at least 10 balls tonight, going into the wee hours of the morning -- putting a cap on what has been a historic day.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): The first chapter of this historic day opens with a prayer. The Obamas departing Blair House for a short drive to St. John's Church. Nationally known pastor T.D. Jakes delivers the sermon and invokes a bit of Hollywood appropriate for the times: "Sir, may the force be with you."

Moments later, back in "the beast" -- the new presidential limousine, the Obamas head to the White House for coffee with Mr. And Mrs. Bush and the Bidens.

Then, a slow drive through cheering crowds to Capitol Hill, where, after pomp and circumstance, prayers and performance performances...


LOTHIAN: ...the presidential oath is delivered.


OBAMA: I, Barack...

ROBERTS: solemnly swear.

LOTHIAN: But an awkward moment. Obama jumps the gun...

OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear...

LOTHIAN: ...and Chief Justice John Roberts mixes up the lines.

ROBERTS: That I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.

OBAMA: That I'll execute the...

ROBERTS: Faithfully the office of president of the United States.

OBAMA: The office of the president of the United States faithfully.

LOTHIAN: But with his hand on Lincoln's bible, the president- elect is sworn in as the 44th president. Inheriting a battered economy, two wars and continued unrest in the Middle East, Mr. Obama, in his address, asked Americans to be patient.

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.

LOTHIAN: Even before the conclusion of his speech, boxes were being moved into the White House. And as the parade snaked around the nation's capital, some senior Obama aides were already at the White House working on campaign promises and the crisis at hand. The transition of power complete, as President Bush flies off to Texas.


LOTHIAN: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs visited the press briefing room earlier today. He told me that he's still trying to figure out how to log into his computer. He also told me that two separate groups of senior aides did come here to the White House to begin working -- one group leaving right after the swearing-in ceremony, the other leaving after the Congressional luncheon. He said some of those senior aides had already finished all of their paperwork. Others are still working on it, Wolf, and trying to figure out some of the technology, like getting their computers working.

But, certainly, Wolf, this administration getting started right away on all the work that needs to be done, including the working on fixing the economy and also dealing with the war in Iraq -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a day it's been today.

But what a day it's going to be tomorrow and for the next four years, at least. This president has got an enormous agenda ahead of him, with lots of crises and many, many challenges.

The parade continuing outside the White House.

Our coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM will continue, as well -- the inauguration of Barack Obama.

We're going to continue to show you the parade at the bottom right hand corner of your screen right -- right during this commercial break.

Stay with us.

Our continuing coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama resumes right after this.


BLITZER: That's the Washington Monument. This is the National Mall here in Washington. It was jam-packed earlier today. Not so jam- packed right now, at the end of this day.

It's almost seven hours since the United States got a new president, Barack Obama.

This is the USO, the United States Service Organization float. The USO, as many of our viewers know, entertain troops. They've been entertaining the United States military since World War II -- both in times of peace and war. The USO has consistently delivered its special brand of comfort, morale and recreational services to the men and women of the United States military and their families. It's always a nice touch to see the USO float at these kinds of events.

Soledad O'Brien is here.

Don Lemon is here, as we continue to watch the inauguration of the president of the United States right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And we're getting excited because we're getting ready to speak with members of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King family and get their reflections on this historic day -- Soledad, you spent a lot of time researching and writing and reporting on Dr. Martin Luther King and his legacy -- a powerful legacy, especially right now. O'BRIEN: I mean really -- I mean words cannot fully describe what his legacy has meant to so many people, but of course, culminating, in many ways, in this day. You know, people talked about the dream and the dream fulfilled.

And I think it's fair to say the dream is moved forward. I think that even members of the King family -- and it will be interesting to get their perspective -- would say there's work still to be done. And one has to not forget that Dr. King was working for economic parity. I mean that's why he was in Washington, D.C. It was a march for jobs and freedom. It wasn't just a march. It was a march for jobs and freedom.

And so coming back to that economic message, which was a centerpiece for Dr. King right when he died, I think is what a lot of people are going to want to see what Barack Obama does on that front. There's no question about that.

LEMON: And what's interesting is I know that members of the King family, especially the children, feel like they share their father with the world and -- because we all feel, in some way, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Is our father -- at least a member of our family, especially for what he did for America and what he really did for the world.

And I'd -- I would be interested to ask Bernice King, as she joins us here, and Mrs. Ferris, as well, Christine King Ferris and Martin Luther King, Jr. III all join us here on THE SITUATION ROOM.

Do you feel, Bernice, that the torch has passed to Barack Obama?

BERNICE KING: I don't know if I'd call it a torch that Martin Luther King has passed to Barack Obama. But certainly a very important torch has been passed generationally in terms of leadership in this nation.

He -- he is the transitional moment where a whole new set of young people are rising up and determined to move this nation further into greatness.

O'BRIEN: Maybe he...

LEMON: And...

O'BRIEN: Oh, I'm sorry for interrupting there.

LEMON: That's OK.

As you watched today, Mrs. King Ferris, you watched the swearing- in of the first African-American president of the United States, did you -- what went through your mind...

BLITZER: And before you answer that...

LEMON: ...and did you hearken back to your brother and what he may have thought? BLITZER: Before you answer the question, though, I want to introduce all three of you to our audience so they get a chance not only to hear what you're saying, but also to know who you are. And we'll go from left to right.

Joining us now is...


LEMON: Christine.

BLITZER: Right. Christine King Ferris. She's the elder sister of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Christine King Ferris, thanks very much for coming in on this historic day.


BLITZER: And then Bernice King is the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King.

And, Bernice, we're really happy you're here, as well.

And Martin Luther King, III, the son of Dr. King, is here.

It's great that all of you could participate not only in eyewitnessing this historic event, but joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And go ahead, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, Wolf.


BLITZER: Go ahead and ask your question.

LEMON: Thank you very much for that, Wolf.

Did -- when you saw that, Mrs. Ferris, did you think about what your brother might think?

What was going through your mind and did you think about that?

CHRISTINE KING FERRIS: Yes, I did. I thought about him quite a bit. And I thought about the night before he was taken from us and his mountaintop speech, when he said, "I've been to the mountaintop. I've looked over. I've seen the promised land."

Now, we are almost at the promised land. Not quite, but we have made a great step.

O'BRIEN: Martin, I'm curious to know what you think about that generational torch, because some people forget that the leaders of the civil rights movement were so young -- I mean 20s and 30s. Your father was just 39 years old when he died. And I wonder if you think that there literally will be a reinvigoration of young people who feel that they can lead movements again?

MARTIN LUTHER KING, III: Oh, absolutely. I think that a number of young people have been inspired just by the fact that President Obama ran -- and, of course, won. One, I know, I believe, is the mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, who, of course, played in the NBA for a number of years. But there will be individuals much younger than him who will be inspired.

When kids who used to wear Jay-Z shirts are now wearing Obama shirts, rushing home to see CNN -- to see what you guys are saying the president is doing, it's a different day. It's -- it's very exciting.

Let me add, though, finally, also, this is -- this is a monumental moment in our society. We're celebrating today and we celebrated the King holiday yesterday. But in the morning -- and the president already said today we're rolling up our sleeves. But that means all of us have to be engaged.

And when we talk about whether or not some would say, well, we -- you know, this is the performance of the dream of Dr. King, absolutely not. It is a huge step and certainly a huge part of some fulfillment.

But it -- when you've got almost 40 million people -- and we're going to get there, tragically -- who are living in poverty in America, that's not acceptable. We can and we must do better. We are a better nation.

And what is being shown -- I mean what has been shown, I think, is this election has shown the kind of nation we are. The whole world is looking at us.

BLITZER: And, Bernice, we saw your father's "I Have A Dream" speech yesterday here on CNN. Soledad and Don and all of us were really privileged to be able to play that speech in its entirety for our viewers in the United States and around the world.

And no matter how many times I've heard it, I learn something new in the course of hearing it. And yesterday, it had such a powerful meaning on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the national holiday -- your father's holiday. We remember him.

I wonder if you go through that same sort of feeling every time you hear that speech, you get a little different notion of your dad.

BERNICE KING: Well, you know, I get that anytime I hear my father because he made so many speeches. That's his most celebrated one, as we know. But he has so many profound speeches.

Probably what goes through me the most is I happened to turn five months old that -- that day. I was born on March 28th of that year. And so that very significant year. And for me to be born at the time when he spoke these words and now to be here 40 -- 41 now, in this year, years later, and know that those words are still resonating in the atmosphere and in our nation now and that people are embracing it. And what's most important for me, when he spoke it about the four children, he was really talking about not just us, but future generations. And to see kids now reawaken, so to speak, and reconnect, it is wonderful.

BLITZER: And I can't tell you how many people -- viewers around the world were simply inspired by hearing that speech.

And, Soledad, thank you so much for making it...

O'BRIEN: We just have to say thank you...

BLITZER: ...making it possible.

O'BRIEN: much for making it happen.

BLITZER: And thank you to the King family for letting us do it.

Stand by for a moment.

We're going to continue our special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're watching the parade continue. It's wrapping up over at the White House. The president and the first lady clearly enjoying every minute of this. They're getting ready, though, to go back in the White House, put on their tuxedos and their gowns and get ready for some partying. The celebrations on this night, the balls, they're about to begin.

Stay with us.

The inauguration of Barack Obama -- our coverage continues in just a moment.


BLITZER: And we're continuing our coverage of the parade. That's the NASA -- the space exhibit that's moving in front of the president of the United States right now.

Only moments ago, by the way, the former president of the United States, George W. Bush, in Midland, spoke to a crowd there as he arrived back in Texas. And he said this about the new president.


GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today was a great day for America and a good man took the oath of office. And we all offer our prayers for his success.


BUSH: Today is also a great day for the Bush family. We are back in the state of Texas and we are here to stay.


BLITZER: All right. There they are -- the first family -- the president of the United States and the first lady. They're walking away from the reviewing stand. The parade is now over. They're walking back through the North Lawn of the White House to get ready for a bunch of parties tonight -- formal balls, black tie balls.

They'll be happy, no doubt about that, as they get for this next chapter in their life. And we can only wish them the best.

The King family is still here. We want to thank all three of them for joining us -- Bernice King, Martin Luther King III and Christine King Ferris, the sister of the late Dr. Martin Luther King.

Thanks very much for spending some time with us.

This is a picture that the photographers will record, historians will write about. He's going to have some fun, Soledad, tonight. But tomorrow, it's down to business.

O'BRIEN: The night is young. But tomorrow it's back at work. They've got a lot of balls ahead of them and then a lot of work ahead, not just for the new president of this nation, but also for the nation as a whole.

BLITZER: And I just want to let our viewers know -- as we see these pictures unfold, we want to do a special shout-out, a special thanks to one individual who's helped us at CNN so much. The numbers tell it all. More than 500 people from CNN have been involved, tons of equipment, in bringing you this special inauguration.

But going back -- nine primary debates, two conventions, four presidential debates, one election night. Multiply that by seven. You barely scratch the surface of Jane Maxwell's 28-year career here at CNN, as head of CNN's Special Events Unit.

She certainly can be as tough as nails when needed. But with grace, with humor and, above all, integrity, Jane helped establish CNN as a major force in journalism. She was part of CNN from day one. And this is Jane's last special event for us. She's off for retirement, Soledad -- a much better schedule.


BLITZER: We want to thank Jane for everything she's done for all of us. She is one unique person. We couldn't have done this without her. She really put CNN on the map in the United States and around the world.

O'BRIEN: A big event to go out on, absolutely.

BLITZER: And we want to thank Jane Maxwell, especially on this day.

It's been a privilege for all of us to be presenting -- reporting on what has happened. We've been on the air all day today. Especially nice to see what's happening in the country right now. But the night is by no means over.

Our special coverage of the inauguration of the president of the United States will continue right after THE SITUATION ROOM.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

A special edition of "CAMPBELL BROWN

NO BIAS, NO BULL" begins right at the top of the hour.