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THE SITUATION ROOM

New Orleans Celebrates

Aired February 9, 2010 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I just want to reset for our viewers, joining us here at the top of the hour we're watching history unfold in New Orleans right now. These are various metropolitan police and fire vehicles. It's the formal start of this massive Super Bowl celebration, this parade in New Orleans celebrating the win of the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl.

The city has come back oh so dramatically over these past four and a half years. There they are the New Orleans police officers. They're on their motorcycles and get ready; this parade is going to be exciting. CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us. Ed, I count 46 separate floats and units who will be participating in this parade.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a long line, and we're still early, Wolf, here. In fact, the parade here just stalled out a little while ago in front of the -- in directs (ph) float next to us. It was full of other New Orleans Saints wide receivers and they just unleashed the beads on us rather intensely, so everyone here is having fun. That float you see there in the background is the Zulu (ph) float. That's about to turn the corner here onto Loyola (ph) Street as well. But let's take some time, talk to some of the folks that are here.

(CHEERING)

LAVANDERA: How excited are you for this day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just so excited! (INAUDIBLE) We're very excited!

LAVANDERA: What does this mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just means that we have grown a lot and we're just ready to roll.

LAVANDERA: How about you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, awesome. I can't believe it's finally happened.

(CHEERING)

LAVANDERA: What does it feel like to be here tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's amazing. Nothing -- I don't know (INAUDIBLE) anything better that's happened (INAUDIBLE). LAVANDERA: We'll just work down the line here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with him. Loving it, loving it, loving it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LAVANDERA: What does this mean to this city?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable, unbelievable, the whole state, unbelievable.

LAVANDERA: Very good. You know, Wolf, just a little while ago who said this is Mardi Gras. This is actually better than Fat Tuesday and that says something. If you know something about Mardi Gras everything points toward Fat Tuesday. The excitement and the passion, and the emotion you can just sense on everyone's faces here tonight, Wolf, everyone having a spectacular time.

BLITZER: All right stand by, Ed. We're going to get back to you. I want to bring in our own CNN political contributors James Carville and Mary Matalin. They live in New Orleans. They celebrated this great victory for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday and now they're with us. You've got a VIP over there, don't you, Mary?

MARY MATALIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is a super VIP. Irvine Mayfield (ph) is a Grammy Award winner --

(CHEERING)

MATALIN: -- is about to play the Star Spangled Banner (INAUDIBLE) --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

MATALIN: They were very proud of (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well thank you. This is a great day, New Orleans jazz orchestra gets a Grammy, the Saints won the Super Bowl and we're going to celebrate all the way through Mardi Gras.

MATALIN: So when you see the Star Spangled Banner --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Irvin Mayfield (ph).

MATALIN: How does that feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a great moment in time that we're marking here in new Orleans. I think you and James have been saying it all along; this is the turn of a page. This is a renaissance rebirth and (INAUDIBLE) great city, America's city, the city of New Orleans.

MATALIN: Well you were there from the very beginning, opening a jazz club on Bourbon, rejuvenating that street and all --

(CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I was born and raised here. I love this city. I'm passionate about it. I'm passionate about my country. I'm passionate about the Saints. I'm passionate about jazz. This is a great day for New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Go, Saints, go.

MATALIN: There you go.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Go, Saints, go.

MATALIN: Go, Saints, go. We love you.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Go, Saints, go.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Go, Saints --

MATALIN: He's got to get in position to play, to open, if we're going to get this party started.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to get it started. I'm going to make my way on over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

MATALIN: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

BLITZER: All right James Carville and Mary Matalin, our intrepid reporters on the scene for us celebrating this great day in New Orleans -- in New Orleans history. Donna Brazile is here. We're watching this as well, Donna, you know you're choking back tears now and then. You get pretty emotional when you see this, don't you?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I do because it's clearly a day of celebration. They're calling it Lombardi Gras, in honor of course of the New Orleans Saints, but you know, Wolf, a week from today is the real Fat Tuesday. That is the day that Louisianans from all walks will come out and celebrate one of the most festive holidays in the country, but tonight is a special evening to celebrate the New Orleans Saints.

They have lifted our spirits. They've clearly -- they have been a unifying force in the region, and tonight as you can tell from the people, it's like a Baucus (ph) night in terms of the number of people out there celebrating, waiting for those Mardi Gras beads and of course their thanks to our special team.

BLITZER: All right we got a little music going on -- Tom Foreman who used to live in New Orleans, so he knows what's going on. It's very similar to a Mardi Gras parade, isn't it?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is Wolf, and the best Mardi Gras. Everybody who has been there, you know you have your favorite Mardi Gras, the ones that are really, really great and the ones that are not as great, you know the ones, but this is one of the great Mardi Gras, and I do think, Wolf -- I was down there just a couple of weeks ago.

In fact I was right on this street just a couple of weeks ago and I was talking to some of the young business people back there who have come back, and they really made a very strong case for saying one of the reasons -- this was the night after the Saints won the NFC championship. And they said, one of the reasons this is so important is because they really feel like they've created some genuine momentum there since after the storm, one of them said for every older professional who either retired or didn't come back, the city has gained two younger professionals who are eager to have their businesses there and have them grow there.

And they're saying right now New Orleans feels very much like Seattle did when it went through its big boom period, when some other cities had their big boom periods, and they're very excited. And they're saying look, the Saints are truly symbolic of what this city is doing. It's not just a big feel-good show; there are real nuts and bolts behind the progress of the city. It won't get a big trophy like the Saints will, but are just as important to the rebirth, and it all fits together hand in glove, which of course some people need tonight because it's kind of breezy, but this is very much like a great Mardi Gras where at the end of it you say this is an utterly unique and special American city that is bouncing back in a big way.

BLITZER: All right, let's listen to a little bit of the pageantry, the music, the marching bands, let's listen to this.

(MUSIC/BAND PLAYING)

BLITZER: All right, a little bit of the marching band. I love this kind of music, love this kind of celebration. Mike Ditka is joining us on the phone, the legendary player, the legendary coach, the NFL Hall of Famer. Hey, coach, talk a little bit about what this means for New Orleans. At one point in your life you coached the New Orleans Saints.

MIKE DITKA, FORMER HEAD COACH, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (via phone): Well, it's the greatest thing in the world (INAUDIBLE). You're talking about perseverance, people who have endured, who have stuck around 43 years. I mean they have hung in there. They supported this organization. They supported those players.

They weren't negative. (INAUDIBLE) bags on the head and everything. This is really a great fan base and the one thing I took from being there when I was there was that. I mean you really feel bad when you let the fans down because their whole life revolves around the Saints, let's face it.

BLITZER: Yes. It's true. It's almost like my home town in Buffalo. They love the Bills. In New Orleans they love the Saints. In Chicago they love the Bears, and you spent a lot of time there. So you know the story. Remind us, and put your ESPN analyst hat on right now. As this season began, who thought that New Orleans would win the Super Bowl?

DITKA: Nobody, nobody. I mean it really is amazing, and I think you see teams develop, and I think what Coach Payton (ph) did down there is he built a very solid football team offensively. Then he started bringing in the defensive components to make it work, then he brought in the defensive coordinator to make it work. He wanted to be a much more aggressive defense that went after and took the ball away from the other team and they became that. You know you can't just win with just an offense or defense, you've got to have everything.

BLITZER: How did they put that team together? I mean for years it was the New Orleans ain'ts (ph) not the Saints. How did they do it?

DITKA: Well you got a couple -- they had a great draft pick in Reggie Bush (ph), but that's not the thing. What they did is they brought the key ingredient and then they brought the quarterback Drew Brees (ph) and on defense they really had a bunch of guys on defense that just played with one guy probably Trapper (ph) being the biggest name, but they just got a bunch of guys they really complement each other.

And that's what you're really looking for. You don't need a bunch of names, not players, but you do need that trigger man and they got Drew Brees (ph). Now what they did is they put a bunch of guys in receiver position, he has a very innovative (ph) mind as a coach, he understood how to attack defenses, and each kid shows you, hey, you give them a chance, they'll catch the football.

BLITZER: We're looking at some of the pictures, coach, these are live pictures of some of these players on these floats. They are happy, they're celebrating. Drew Brees (ph), he wasn't necessarily only a few years ago destined to be the MVP of the Super Bowl win was he?

DITKA: You know (INAUDIBLE) what it is. You know the experts, this guy is this, and this guy is that (INAUDIBLE). You know you got to love guys in life who, you know when people say they go ahead and do it, you know. Most people say you can't do it, just watch other people do it.

BLITZER: In all the Super Bowls that you've watched and dare I say you've watched every single one going back all of these decades. How much of an upset was this one?

DITKA: It wasn't for me, but I'm sure it was for everybody else, because everybody (INAUDIBLE) wanted you know the Colts are the best team in the NFL and this and that and the other, and you know but (INAUDIBLE). I picked (INAUDIBLE). I wasn't picking them despite anything. I was picking because (INAUDIBLE) they were the best all- around football team. Better offense, defense, and special team.

BLITZER: Yes, they could have almost gone undefeated this whole year. They were -- they were moving in that direction weren't they?

DITKA: They ran into a little problem there stopping the run. That was the biggest problem they had. They didn't stop the run very well and they lost a couple of football games, but the thing about that you know it's one thing to lose, but it's so important to be able to refocus, and they did refocus.

BLITZER: Well you know what it's like to win a Super Bowl as both a player and a coach. Mike Ditka is the great one. We appreciate your spending a few moments with us. Coach thanks very much for joining us.

DITKA: Wolf, thank you very much. All right, God bless you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. God bless you as well. God bless all of our viewers, indeed, everyone out there right now as we celebrate the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl win. We'll go back to New Orleans live right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: These are live pictures from New Orleans right now where they're celebrating the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl win. They're celebrating not only that, but they're celebrating New Orleans and the comeback since Hurricane Katrina. What a remarkable comeback it's been. Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us. Ed, what are you seeing where you are right now?

LAVANDERA: Hey, Wolf, this is an unbelievable time. Look the float here is just stopping along Loyola (ph). Some of the players are autographing fans' helmets, hats, whatever they want. Some of the fans who come up to the float here and these guys (INAUDIBLE) talking to us. What do you think of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unbelievable. Great for the city, man. This is unbelievable to see this -- this many people turn out. Everybody here deserves it. It's fun to be a part of.

LAVANDERA: When you guys won, did you imagine a party like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Orleans knows how to throw a party, there's no question about that, so I'm not surprised.

LAVANDERA: All right guys, have fun. You can see the look in their eyes. They're truly amazed at just how many people have turned out. They were grabbing me beforehand and they were like, this is amazing. I didn't expect this. They were completely in awe of what's going on here on the streets of New Orleans.

BLITZER: This parade route is almost four miles. Do we have any estimates of how many people have actually gathered? Have local police put out a number?

LAVANDERA: I haven't heard any. I know we're expecting probably 50,000 people, 60,000 people, perhaps. Who knows if that's accurate at this point, but all -- what I can tell you is that the entire city, the entire region, we have talked to people over and over again who have been coming into New Orleans just to be a part of this, driven in from four or five or six hours away, if not flown into New Orleans to be a part of this. Where are you guys from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teague (ph), Louisiana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right down the road.

LAVANDERA: Oh, right down the road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LAVANDERA: Have you met a lot of people who have been driving in from all over to be a part of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hadn't met a lot of people, saw a lot of people driving in from all over, yes, so.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Alabama.

LAVANDERA: Alabama, here's a guy from Alabama.

(CROSSTALK)

LAVANDERA: Hold on -- wait -- I went to Texas, so I won't get personal --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roll Tide.

LAVANDERA: What's it like to be a part of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh it's amazing. I just moved here from Birmingham, Alabama from Springfield. It's amazing. I'm a huge Saints (INAUDIBLE). Go, Saints, who dat (ph) baby.

LAVANDERA: Have you -- have you got a sense of what it means to all these people around here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it took a long time, but I'm loving it. I'm getting used to it every day.

LAVANDERA: All right. Well this is a song we've been waiting to hear for quite a while, right?

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE)

LAVANDERA: Wolf, we finally get to hear it --

BLITZER: All right, let's listen to it --

LAVANDERA: -- "The Saints Go Marching In", so I'll let you enjoy this.

BLITZER: Let's listen right now, Ed.

(MUSIC/BAND PLAYING)

BLITZER: All right let's bring in James Carville and Mary Matalin. Donna Brazile was dancing along with "When The Saints Come Marching In". Go ahead, James, tell me what you're seeing, what's going on where you are.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: (INAUDIBLE)

MATALIN: What's going on?

CARVILLE: It's very -- there is a lot of noise here, people are as excited as they can be. We're sitting here with all the politicians, and the crowd is just -- I can't imagine what the estimate of the crowd tonight is going to be, but it's unbelievable all over the city.

MATALIN: You know we're not -- one big political family here tonight, but one thing the city does is party hardy. But they really have a hospitality industry that is equal to none, and they take great pride (INAUDIBLE) get this party started and make this party happen. There are no bad parties here, and all these politicians up here are getting down, baby, getting down.

CARVILLE: Everybody is getting down.

MATALIN: (INAUDIBLE) you get down? (INAUDIBLE) that is Congressman (INAUDIBLE) the entire delegation is up here, and they are all partying.

BLITZER: These floats are amazing, too.

CARVILLE: I'm ready to go.

BLITZER: Hey, Tom Foreman, you saw that float we just saw over there? What was that float?

FOREMAN: That -- this one is from the crew of Caesar, which is not one of the bigger, bigger floats out there, but it's still a big one out there. You'll see Indemium (ph). We'll see Baucus (ph). You'll see a lot of these famous crews. If you're not from New Orleans, the crews are the different groups that organize these parades.

And it's worth noting, Wolf that when you talk about the crowd size here, many schools around here let out early today. There were reports in some cases of back-ups on highways and for the ferry that lasted for hours of people trying to get in. And WWL (ph), my old station down there, one of the stations that we talk to very often is estimating that the crowds for this may actually be bigger than the crowds that they see for parades like in Denning (ph), which is a massive, massive parade down there.

And bear in mind that many of the Saints players will actually ride in Mardi Gras parades next week, so this really is just the beginning of what's going to be a massive, rolling party that's going to go on for a week until Ash Wednesday gets here.

BLITZER: Yes, well they should be celebrating. It looks like the U.S. military -- U.S. Marine Corps marching band moving along right now. They are celebrating as is everybody else. Tom Foreman is our senior Mardi Gras and float correspondent, so he knows New Orleans. We'll take a quick break, continue our coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

(CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on now, the Saints have won the Super Bowl!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MAYOR RAY NAGIN (D), NEW ORLEANS: I don't want anybody in the house to be laid back tonight. This is 43 years in the making. If you didn't come here to have fun, something is wrong with you. I don't care whether you like the person next to you or whether you love the person next to you. Tonight we put all that aside. This is one city, one team, one Super Bowl. This is about us, y'all, the city of New Orleans, the region, the entire state of Louisiana. You all with it -- I said, are you all with it?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) playing around with the crowd. That was just a few moments ago, the mayor of New Orleans, the outgoing mayor, Ray Nagin, speaking to the folks who have gathered, tens of thousands by all accounts. They are celebrating the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl win, but more importantly, they're celebrating New Orleans and its amazing recovery. We're going back to the parade in just a moment. But Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa what else is going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. Well a U.S. lawyer for one of 10 Americans charged with child kidnapping in Haiti is urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to personally intervene on their behalf. However, the State Department says it would be highly unusual for Clinton to get involved in the judicial process of another country.

And the death of Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan's father has been ruled a homicide. The Kerrigan family immediately released a statement saying the medical examiner's finding is premature and inaccurate. The family says it doesn't blame anyone for Daniel Kerrigan's death, noting that he did have a preexisting heart condition. Nancy Kerrigan's brother Mark was arraigned last month on assault charges. Daniel Kerrigan died after an alleged altercation with his son at his home in Massachusetts.

And debt laden Dubai is said to be planning to sell one of its most famous assets, the ocean liner, the QE2 is reported to be one of the assets Dubai's state run private equity firm is planning to sell. It bought the QE2 back in 2007 for an estimated $100 million. The firm also has a 20 percent stake in the Circuit Day Solent (ph). Recently it sold off also the W Hotel in New York for just $2 million.

And actor Louis Gossett, Jr. is revealing that he has early stage prostate cancer. The 74-year old says he is going public with his illness to try to encourage African-Americans to seek early exams and treatment for the disease, and he says he's begun an intensive treatment program.

And our CNN polling center has a fresh Poll of Polls about President Obama. Take a look at this. This poll shows -- the average shows the president's approval rating at 47 percent with a 45-percent disapproval. Now when you look at the weekly averages for the president last month, you'll notice though his approval rating has slightly gone up and down over the past several weeks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Lisa. We're going to get back to you. We're also going to get back to the parade and watch what's going on. Our coverage will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right this was the headline this morning in the "New Orleans Time's Picayune" (ph). Take a closer look "The Boys are Back in Town". We're talking about the New Orleans Saints. They certainly are back in town, Drew Brees (ph) and the New Orleans Saints. They're celebrating right now together with tens of thousands of others in the "Big Easy", as they like to call it. There are no people happier right now than James Carville and Mary Matalin. They live in New Orleans, they're celebrating. Hey guys, you've got a special guest with you, don't you?

CARVILLE: We sure do, Wolf, we have a very important first Vietnamese to serve in United States Congress is with me. We have the first Indian governor of the United States here in Louisiana, our senior Senator and our chief justice of Supreme Court of Woman (ph), so we're very proud of this. I have Congressman Joseph Cao, Congressman Cao tell us how does the Vietnamese community which is a very important part of our city embrace this football team?

REP. ANH "JOSEPH" CAO (R), LOUISIANA: Well the Vietnamese like every one else in this city, we have loved the Saints for the past 35 years. We have rooted for them for the past 35 years, and we have suffered with them through the last 35 years. So they are the heart of the city and we are part of this great city.

CARVILLE: You know, Wolf, I can't help but think as a Vietnam era vet, wonderful contributions the Vietnamese people have made to South Louisiana and New Orleans in particular. We sit here less than four and a half years after Katrina. This is just a wonderful, moving night. The parade was led off by the Marine Corps marching band, Semper Fi and those guys. It was really just a wonderful night all the way around and a real honor to have Congressman Cao here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congressman, what are -- you got your little girls here, they're beautiful, and your wife. Are they just -- how is your whole family dealing with this?

CAO: Well you know my two daughters; they are the Saints' biggest fans. When we were watching the game they were howling and yelling and jumping up and down every time that we scored, so our family we are die-hard Saints fans. We cannot sleep when they lose and we cheer and we cry when they win.

CARVILLE: How do you say who dat in Vietnamese?

CAO: I wouldn't know.

CARVILLE: Who dat?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, James, do me a favor. I know he can't hear me, Congressman Cao, he was the only Republican that voted with president Obama on health care reform, I believe. But he watched the Saints win the super bowl over at the white house with the president. Ask him what it was like.

CARVILLE: Wolf wants to know what it was like watching the game with the president at the white house on Sunday.

CAO: We tried to get into D.C. but all of the airports were closed, so we couldn't get in.

CARVILLE: He was unable to get there. The snow kept everybody in and out.

BLITZER: The real fans like you and Mary were actually in Miami for that win. Thank the Congressman for us, James and Mary. We're going to get back to you. Is that the Vince Lombardi trophy we're seeing right there? Yes, that's the Vince Lombardi trophy right there. There's the head coach, S

Jack Cafferty is joining us right now. Jack, an amazing picture when you think about what the folks in New Orleans have gone through over these years.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. The question this hour is how important is the Saints super bowl victory to the city of New Orleans? Check the spelling on this first e-mail.

Denise writes, "The Aints aint the Aints Neaux Meaux! My maternal family has been here in Louisiana since my first relative arrived from France in 1765. Sunday night, tears from generations of my maternal family flowed like cleansing waters of the Georgia River, a healing that is so hard to explain for all Louisianans has occurred. What a good day."

Lee from Illinois writes, "This time for my home town is awesome. I mean awesome. The Saints have united folk throughout the entire boot state. I'm blessed to call New Orleans my home. My mother just moved back into her home after four years. I'm here in Springfield, Illinois watching the news with tears this my eyes. We know how to celebrate, and I'm glad that my daughters have had a chance to witness such a rich culture. Hello down in Brazil. My family knows your family. I'm happy, happy, happy."

Ray from Louisiana, "I don't expect people who are not from New Orleans to understand. Every day the people of New Orleans live with hope in spite of governmental incompetence and poverty. Most of the rebuilding here wasn't driven with unwavering government support but by the blood and sweat of the people here. The soul of this particular Saints team embodies the spirit and a aspiration of rebuilding for a better future."

John from Baltimore, "I was raised in Detroit where we suffered two consecutive long hot summers of violent horrible race riots in 1967 and 1968. The Tigers' win of the World Series in '68 brought the community together, quenching differences and celebrating what we had in common. I believe the Saints' victory is doing the same for the big easy. And I think it's wonderful. All I can say is, who dat?"

And Joseph from New Orleans, "I live in the French Quarter and have for many years. This win is more than just a game. It means millions to an economy that simply needs it. Yet it brought a city together but allowed a lot of us to actually pay our bills. You don't know what that means unless you're here."

If you want to read more of this stuff, and you will be touched and inspired by it, go to my blog at CNN.com/Caffertyfiles. This is exceptional, and you will enjoy it.

BLITZER: Donna has already written it down. She's going to spend a couple hours reading those e-mails later tonight. This is the St. Augustine high school marching band. As we go to break, let's enjoy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Those are some of the super bowl Saints. They're the winners of the super bowl, and they're celebrating as they should on one of these floats moving around New Orleans. All right, Ed Lavandera is our man on the scene there. Ed, you're there with some folks that are very, very happy.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Happy is like the understatement of the night. We'll make our way down here. We've been talking to these folks a little while ago. How happy are you guys right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whooo! Loving it, loving it!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only in Louisiana, baby, only in Louisiana.

LAVANDERA: You've been in New Orleans a long time. What does this mean to this city?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything, buddy. It means life in this city. Bringing life back.

LAVANDERA: Very good. Look at this young lady. You're not the youngest Saints fan ever, are you? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he's the youngest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, he's the youngest. Some of the cutest. How happy are you? You enjoying this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I love the Saints.

LAVANDERA: What's it like to be able to bring your kids out here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's awesome, man. I love it, you know.

LAVANDERA: You guys have a good time. This family here drove down from Baton Rouge to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we did. We are having a great time, a great time.

LAVANDERA: You guys have been around here, seen a lot of what's happened in this city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came down over the weekend, and the energy was unbelievable. We had so much fun; I did not want to go home.

LAVANDERA: You having fun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

LAVANDERA: Have you gotten any beads?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh-huh.

LAVANDERA: We've been funneling a lot of beads to him. Check this one out here, Wolf. I think we're nearing -- toward the end of the parade here, but we're going to go out with a bang here eventually. It's been an exciting evening, and you can really tell that people have just been ecstatic to be able to be a part of this. Like that first gentleman said, it means everything to these people here and everything means a lot of different things to the people who have lived here in New Orleans and have gone through so much. Wolf?

BLITZER: Stand by, Tom Foreman is here. That's the owner of the New Orleans Saints, isn't it?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's Tom Benson. He lives on the north side of New Orleans. The degree to which the New Orleans Saints have taken it to heart. It's about taking care of this community. So much so that I will note, Peyton Manning, the Colts quarterback, who is also a New Orleans native, made note before the game how impressed he was of the community outreach of the Saints players. Not just the big celebrity appearances, but the things they were actually doing to promote youth programs, job programs, community rebuilding programs. That's why the city loves these people so much. And there, of course, is Shawn Payton, the Payton that matters to us. BLITZER: Yeah, the head coach with the Lombardi trophy. He's pretty proud of that and celebrating with the fans as he goes through that throat. He's a remarkable head coach, tom.

FOREMAN: He's got hands like Reggie Bush, he's not dropping that.

BLITZER: We continue to watch this parade. We get some of the music when we come back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. We just saw some toasts from Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana. Let's listen to the mayor.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: A toast to the Benson family. To the Benson family!

To the family!

We wish you continued happiness, health and future success. May you and your organization continue to inspire people to come together and overcome the odds. To many more super bowl champions for the who dat nation! Hail, Saints! Hail Saints! Hail, Saints!

BENSON: Hey, this win is for the people of New Orleans and Louisiana, baby. Let's salute all of you! Yay! Without you, we never would have done it. We got many more coming, too, huh?

JINDAL: Mr. Benson? We have a couple other things. We have some flowers for your wife, and for Miss Rita. We also have an award for you. We want to give you the crystal flute award to you, Mr. Benson, for your contribution.

Can you give Mr. Benson the microphone, please, so we can all hear him?

BENSON: We also have for you and your family the keys to the city of New Orleans. Thank you for everything and god bless you.

JINDAL: Hey, Ben, Mike, Beau. Oh when the Saints come marching?

BLITZER: I hate how long we waited, 43 years for New Orleans to make it to the super bowl and then to go ahead and actually win a super bowl, how exciting is that for all the people there, and so much more exciting, Donna Brazile, because it comes only 4.5 years after Katrina.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We've come a long way, Wolf, since the horrors of hurricane Katrina. I have to admit hurricane Rita also put a lot of people out of their homes, not only in New Orleans but also in the western part of the state. This is a joyous occasion, of course, but we've done a great deal over the last four years. Many of the schools are back, businesses are back, 80% of the residents are back, but there are still so many people who are displaced and want to come back, continue to rebuild. Mayor Mitch Landrieu is trying to rebuild. He will have to work with the governor in continued efforts to rebuild New Orleans.

BLITZER: Show us that umbrella as we go to break. Donna Brazile, she's celebrating here in THE SITUATION ROOM, celebrating the New Orleans Saints. She's celebrating New Orleans.

BRAZILE: Show me something, mister. Show me something, mister.

BLITZER: Donna Brazile and New Orleans. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The faces of the New Orleans Saints fans who have gathered on the streets of New Orleans to celebrate the super bowl win. What a win it was and what a comeback this has been for New Orleans and indeed the entire Louisiana gulf coast. Tom, you remember 4.5 years ago. You see what's going on with the marching bands and everything else. Wow, what a difference a few years makes. Hold your thought for just a second because Mary Matalin and James Carville are on the scene. What's going through your heads, folks? Mary, are you there?

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I can hear you but the governor can't stay forever.

BLITZER: Mary, it's Wolf in Washington. Can you hear me?

MATALIN: You're cutting in and out, but we got you.

BLITZER: I see Governor Jindal is with you and James. Ask him what he thinks about this.

Obviously, she can't hear me but she can hear somebody else talking to her. Mary, if you can hear me, go ahead and talk to Governor Jindal.

CARVILLE: Governor, how does it feel to be the governor of state super bowl champions?

JINDAL: We've been waiting 43 years. There must be pigs flying somewhere. Louisiana has waited so long for this. Having a world super bowl champion has really been good for the city. I'm so proud of these guys on and off the field. They've been involved in rebuilding New Orleans. What a great message to the entire world. New Orleans is back, Louisiana is back better than we were pre- Katrina.

CARVILLE: That's wonderful to hear. Also the regional support and statewide support is unbelievable.

JINDAL: You got mayors from all over the state, you got Shreveport, east and west Louisiana, you got gulf coast. If you weren't from Louisiana and you weren't rooting for the Saints, something was wrong with you.

CARVILLE: We got a lot of who dats in Baton Rouge? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of who dats. Everything is shut down, people partying everywhere. The flags are flying up and down the governmental building. It's a great time for Baton Rouge and the state.

CARVILLE: Wolf, I want to make one point. The three largest cities, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and New Orleans are governed by you. You did a good job if you can get elected here.

JINDAL: With all three of those mayors, one had the Saints come through their parade. It's about Louisiana first.

MATALIN: I'm about to ask a serious question. Did either of you think you would ever see Mr. Benson dancing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's better than me. He's found more rhythm than me, so I'm going back to practice.

JINDAL: I want to thank the Bensons for their commitment. They're helping to reinvent part of downtown New Orleans. It's not just about a football team; it's about rebuilding New Orleans. They made a commitment to come back and rebuild the dome better than it was before.

MATALIN: Medical corridors.

JINDAL: $2 billion hospital, state of the art. This will be the best hospital in all the world here in New Orleans. I'm telling you, New Orleans is coming back better than we were pre-Katrina. The Saints are just a better example of that. More jobs, one of the best economies in the country. The Saints show that we're coming back.

MATALIN: So I guess the question is, why are you all there? You need to be here, right?

JINDAL: We want everybody out there to come visit, come do business here. This is the best city in the whole world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make sure you experience the spirit of the people. You can't do it by TV. Come on down to New Orleans, check our great state out. You'll be a winner.

MATALIN: You want to say something about LSU while you're here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LSU is great, the Tigers will be back there again. All over this state, what a great time, and the music out of Mr. Benson's feet, that's the spirit in our hearts. Go, Saints!

BLITZER: All right, guys. Good work. Thank the governor, thank the mayor. Let's take another quick break, but before we do, let's listen in so some of the celebration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The New Orleans Saint Super Bowl win was sweet for the city, sweet for the team, sweet for so much of the world. But it was quarterback Drew Brees' unusual and special moment with his son that has everyone talking. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was one of the most memorable plays of the game, the winning quarterback playing catch the confetti with his son, sort of made those e-trade baby commercials forgettable. Saint's quarterback Drew Brees cradled his son instead of a football, eyes tearing. His mascara didn't even run. You could see him mouth the words, I love you, little man.

DREW BREES, SAINTS QUARTERBACK: Just told him, little boy, you just don't even know what you're experiencing right now.

MOOS: Little Brees drove the ladies gaga.

DAVID LETTERMAN: There you are and your son on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

MOOS: Baby was watching with mom in the green room as David passed to dad. Biff Henderson hit the floor. Biff had to go to the hospital and is now recuperating at home. Sandra Bullock, on the other hand, managed to stay on her feet. Damon pretty much stays on all fours. Damon was born a little over a year ago, born on his father's 30th birthday. And already he shot a commercial with dad.

BREES: If you want to play at this level, you need a high- performance diaper.

MOOS: Brees proves that hitting a diaper sure beats changing one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's one tough diaper?

MOOS: And this was a tough quarterback in a tender moment, and what made that head-to-head moment even more adorable was the set of giant headphones. As one admirer posted, kids should really come standard issue with a set of those head phones. Sure, it's nice to see the players rub the super bowl trophy, but having a kid is nicer. Talking to the trophy. Talking to the kid is nicer, and raising the trophy and kissing it can't compare with raising the kid ask kissing him. Brees connected with two face kisses and two handoffs, kissing his son's hands to win MVD, most valuable dad.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Congratulations once again to Drew Brees and the entire team, the New Orleans Saints. Shouldn't be a total loss. Look what Donna Brazile brought me from the Super Bowl. Take a look at this. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Up next, Campbell Brown.