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Washington D.C. Prepares for President's Second Inaugural; Interview with NAACP President Ben Jealous; Beauty Queen Discusses Overcoming Autism; Interview with Star Jones; Interview with Miss American Mallory Hagan; Political Pundits Discuss President's Possible Second Term Agenda

Aired January 19, 2013 - 14:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A beautiful day on the National Mall. Hello, everyone. It's 2:00 on the east coast, 11:00 a.m. out west. Thank you for joining us. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. It's great to see you here today. We are live in Washington, D.C., covering a huge event for this city and a huge event for the entire country, President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

BOLDUAN: You can just see the beautiful picture behind us, so much going on around the nation's capital this weekend. And CNN you can be sure is covering it all. Parades, concerts, and religious services, all of it leading up to the big main event, President Obama's inauguration ceremony coming up on Monday. The highlights of that event, the swearing in, of course, and the inaugural speech.

CNN's White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joins me to talk more about this. First of all, let's talk about the speech. I understand that the president's still working on it. So what are the themes? What's the focus?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He is still working on it, Kate. He'll be doing tweaks till the last minute. Right now he's doing some major tweaks and he's been writing this during the day in the oval office but also at night after Sasha and Malia go to bed as well as his wife goes to bed so he has time alone in the residence to work on it.

Some of the major themes, and we just learned this from Dan Lothian who covers the White House. One of the themes, this is sort of the fact that the president is confronting the reality of a divided Washington that he'll be acknowledging that there are some divisions but he'll talk about how there's responsibility to work on issues where there are common ground.

And, of course, this is considered certainly a speech that is somewhat hard to deliver not only because historically second inaugurals are not always very memorable but also because it's situated in a very weird place temporally for President Obama. We've just had the fiscal cliff battle. There's an upcoming one with the debt ceiling. And so he has to acknowledge this not so pretty reality in the Washington as he gives a speech that's supposed to be inspirational. BOLDUAN: The reality is the same Congress he was working with on Friday will be the same Congress he's working with come Tuesday despite the speech. We'll watch closely to see more details coming up. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much. We'll watch more of this ahead.

BERMAN: We always know security is tight in Washington, but for the inauguration, it is as tight as it can possibly get, like the mother lode of security here. Joe Johns is here with us to talk about the whole situation. What are we seeing?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, first of all, there are probably going to be something like 12,000 security people that we know of in and around the National Mall for all of the events. So let's break that down a little bit. There are about 4,000 D.C. police officers, all of whom will be available for security, different shifts probably working between 12 and 18 hours on Sunday and on Monday. We have something like 6,000 National Guards people, men and women, who are brought here from various jurisdictions, about 31 different states. We're told they're going to be unarmed. They're going to be here for crowd control, for parking, for what have you.

And we have about 2,000 individuals from law enforcement agencies, all over of this side of the United States. They try to get people to come close because they can drive in. So those are the numbers.

Now, what are they going to be doing? Certainly they're going to be trying to keep the crowd safe. But it's also important to say the authorities here are expecting the crowd to be about one-third to one- half the size of the crowd when President Obama was inaugurated the first time.

The trick for them is to try to stay invisible and not make it look like a police state. We know both at the Republican and Democratic national conventions there were so many security personnel, they kind of overwhelmed the place and it was perhaps a little too much, not just for the locals but also for the national audience.

BERMAN: Joe Johns, thanks very much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Joe.

It's not just inauguration weekend, it's also the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. And to mark that, thousands of people are taking part in a national day of service today, including the first family. The Obamas helped fix up an elementary school here in Washington. You're looking at video right there of them varnishing a book case after President Obama painted those shelves. He thanked volunteers for their service.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact that we've got some outstanding young people here today, I want to say thank you to the parents for showing early on to all our young people how gratifying and how fulfilling this is. This is really what America is about. This is what we celebrate. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And there are a lot of people who want to volunteer who do want to get involved, but simply don't know what to do to get involved. So this is why there is a service summit also being held today on the National Mall to help with just that. Suzanne Malveaux is there and has been there all morning kind of looking at the comings and goings and some of the volunteer opportunities that are there, and also quite a few celebrity sightings. Hey, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate. It's always great to come together for a good cause and people want to learn more how to volunteer. How do you get folks all in one place under this tent? You bring superstars aboard and people flock. So we've seen quite a few. We saw Eva Longoria earlier today talking about the importance of beginning back to Latino communities and how she has been working at a foundation that does just that. We saw the vice president's son Beau Biden. He is somebody who serves in the military and he talked about the importance of bringing support to veterans. We also saw Yolanda Adams, got a chance to talk to her. She was singing some of her favorite inspirational songs, all part of her family's history as you know.

And one of the co-chairs of this volunteer summit of this day, Chelsea Clinton, talked about how she was very proud of her family. Of course, her father, Bill Clinton, her mother, Hillary Clinton, and how they have served, and that it was actually her father in his presidency that he was able to sign the Bill for MLK Day, making that national day of service. So a lot of people very excited to meet the folks who have come out here.

Kate, we've got one other special treat for you. Star Jones in a totally different role than what we've seen before. And it is so nice to see you. You're looking fabulous. Tell us about the red and what that symbolizes.

STAR JONES: When I go red, I really do go red. I admit this. You know February is the beginning of the national heart month and Go Red for Women. I'm the face of Go Red for Women, the national volunteer for the American Heart Association. And in that capacity, I was speaking here at the national day of service. One encouraging heart health for the individual and sharing my story of heart disease and survivorship and then two, getting people back involved in their community to advocate for their own health and for the health of their families.

MALVEAUX: Tell us about that. You said you have your own personal story and a lot of women, a lot of people want to know how they can actually improve their health.

JONES: You know, Suzanne, I don't know a lot of people that know that in 2009 I was diagnosed with heart disease. I was one of these resentful patients because I thought my gosh, I have done everything right. I had lost 150 pounds. I was keeping it off. But because I had had some heart palpitations, light headedness, I would feel faint at times, these are classic female symptoms of heart disease. It's not this long thing that goes up your arm like what we were told. So I've quickly learned that heart disease is not an old white guy's disease. I became obsessed with learning everything I could. I volunteered for the National Heart Association.

MALVEAUX: That is great, Star. What do you think is the most important thing we need to do in terms of taking care of ourselves?

JONES: The biggest issue when it comes to health is be your own health advocate. Listen to your body. Listening to your body means being conscious of what's going on. Women as natural caregivers, you're conscious of what's happening with your children animate but not yourself. And you often ignore it. Don't ignore the warning signs. If you're feeling sick, if you're at all have any of the symptoms I've outlined be your own advocate and advocate for your community.

MALVEAUX: Star, might see you at any of the inaugural balls coming up?

JONES: I'm going to hit a ball. I'm taking my 18-year-old nephew. This was his first election. He's my date this weekend.

MALVEAUX: Nice, very nice. I'll see you at the balls. Thanks again, Star. Appreciate it.

So Kate, we've got everybody out here. We've got personalities, advocates, politicians, you name it. Folks are coming out, signing up to volunteer, participate, and a lot of folks are attracting them to the tent.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. A lot going on the mall today. Thank you, Suzanne. We'll continue to track all of the events taking place this inauguration weekend, but we want to get caught up on other stories making headlines today. John?

BERMAN: Thanks. We'll start overseas now, Algeria, where seven hostages and 11 kidnappers are reported dead today. Algerian Special Forces had been trying to secure the release of an unknown number of people including Americans being held at this gas plant by an Al Qaeda-linked terror group.

Lance Armstrong admits he cheated and admits he deserved to be punished. The disgraced cyclist told Oprah Winfrey that he does feel remorse for what he did. He also says cheating cost him sponsorships word about $75 million. Armstrong could lose a lot more as sponsors and supporters sue to get some of their own money back.

Honda is recalling 748,000 of its Odyssey minivans and pilot SUVs. This is the second major recall of these models in just over a month. The company says there are problems with the assembly of the air bags on the driver's side. That could increase the risk of an injury in a crash. Honda says it is not aware right now of any injuries that have occurred as a result of this problem.

So that's the news going on around the world right now. Back to here, back to where we are in Washington, the gorgeous National Mall, with people crowded behind us in this great inaugural weekend.

BOLDUAN: It's a beautiful weekend. There's a big crowd beginning to gather. As the country's first African-American president gets ready to take the oath of office once again, Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP joins us with his thoughts on this historic moment. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: He's the president of hope and change. But as President Obama gets ready to start his second term, a lot of folks are still struggling in this very tough economy. Joining us now to talk about the first term and what's ahead is Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP. Ben, thanks so much for coming to our beautiful set on the National Mall. I think the question now as we head into this inauguration weekend is for civil rights groups like yours, what should be the president's top priority moving into his second term?


BOLDUAN: Yes, but we heard, Ben, that was his priority in the first term.

JEALOUS: It was health care and then jobs, jobs, jobs, and the Tea Party kind of popped up in the middle. But we've got to get back to jobs. You know, four years ago when he won, the aspirations of every child in this country went up because, quite frankly, when the black guy with the so-called foreign sounding last name wins in a year when everybody knew we would finally have our first woman president because that's what folks were thinking going in back then, every child knows that they can be president now.

And the difference between a child's aspiration, the family's situation is an exact measure of that family's level of frustration. So now when you're seeing so many families stuck in this country, having a hard time finding work, we're saying jobs. On the day he swears in, outside the state capitol down in South Carolina, we'll have at least 8,000, maybe 10,000 or 12,000 of our NAACP members at a big jobs rally saying we've got to move forward.

And so I think that's the difference between now and four years ago. Four years ago, people thought they put him in office to make the change happen. Four years later, people get no, we have to make the change happen.

BERMAN: Can I ask you about jobs for a second? As you know, the unemployment rate among African-Americans is roughly double what it is among whites in this country.

JEALOUS: Actually slightly more.

BERMAN: When you talk jobs, jobs, jobs, does a rising tide lift all boats or does the president feed to do something specifically to help the African-American community?

JEALOUS: He needs to focus more on racial discrimination. His administration started, quite frankly with, a mess. The Bush White House has being dismantled the civil rights enforcement arms of each agency. And they've rebuilt them. But we have to go further. What you're seeing in a state like Minnesota, for instance, I was there a few months ago. For the state, the average was six percent. For the black community, it was 18 percent. That differential held whether you had a Ph.D., or not even a high school degree. And the only thing that can explain it frankly is the phenomena of race. Some of it is color based discrimination. Some of it is not being in the right social network to know where jobs are. They started to do something but he can go much further.

BOLDUAN: When we're moving into Monday and everyone is waiting to hear from the president in his inaugural address, many people are looking for the tone and what he touches on in the speech. What do you want to hear the president touch on in this inaugural speech?

JEALOUS: We want to hear him say that he's committed to making sure that every single boat gets lifted, because it's clear that the tide has had to rise. Some boats are going up and some stuck right there.

BERMAN: Can I ask you about the cabinet? None of them have been African-Americans so far. We're talking about state, defense, his new chief of staff we think will be a white male. What do you think about the diversity in the cabinet looking forward?

JEALOUS: We're hoping by the time -- it's a bit like paint by numbers. You paint this section than section. We hope by the end, there's more women and people of color. Obviously Holder staying over in Justice for now. We would like to see a black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. There could be several who -- several vacancies this term. We have never had one. There are now several women on the court. People are saying finally we have a black woman on the Supreme Court.

BOLDUAN: One of the many things on the to-do list and wish list. Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, thank you for joining us today.

BERMAN: Great to see you. And great to see everyone here on the mall here celebrating this inaugural weekend. Stay with us for our continuing coverage of this historical weekend, the second swearing in of President Obama. When we come back, Douglas Brinkley, one of the nation's leading historians, he will talk about this moment and how to put it in perspective.


BOLDUAN: I don't know what you're doing today but we're having fun on the National Mall with a big group of our closest friends. Welcome back to CNN Newsroom, special coverage of this historic inauguration weekend. I'm Kate Bolduan.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. We're giving you a front row seat along with all these great people to this day's fantastic events.

BERMAN: A president who says government can help improve the lives of everyday Americans. President Barack Obama fits that description and so does FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So let's bringing in presidential historian Doug Brinkley to talk more about this. You've said FDR has been on your mind a lot as we countdown to the second inauguration. Tell us why.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: In 1933 in March when FDR famously said we have nothing to fear but fear itself, that's because we were in the great depression. People were really worried what was going to happen. Due to the new deal, due to the first 100 days, the FDR created the CCC and TVA and the alphabet the soup of the new deal, we started getting out of the great depression. But by the time he gave his second inaugural in 1937, we were still in it.

It's similar to President Obama. He inherited the great recession, was able to do TARP, the GM bailout, and all of this, won re-election, yet, there are still millions of Americans living in the poverty and the middle class is still struggling. So you've got watch that you're not triumphant that we're out of the mess yet, but you want to convince people that government is continuing to work and be on your side.

BERMAN: FDR famously said in that second inauguration we're still ill- housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. What dozen Barack Obama need to admit to in terms of the problems and what does he need to say we'll do to fix it, do you think?

BRINKLEY: What I would do is say, he seems very engaged in Newtown gun control. I would say talk about fear and that we cannot be a society of fear. We have to work together. And no mother should be afraid of somebody shooting their child with an assault weapon in a school. No city should fear that if a hurricane wipes them out due to climate change that you're not going to get the federal government there to help you.

And I would also obviously Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King are going to be mentioned, at least their spirit for sure. I would also widen it to women. Nobody seems to ever name drop Susan B. Anthony or Eleanor Roosevelt, and it might be time for that now, particularly since the president's been getting some heat of not having enough women in his second term and the women's vote contributed to his reelection mightily.

BOLDUAN: Historically speaking, how much does a second inaugural speech matter? Does it set the tone? Do people hold the presidential accountable for it?

BRINKLEY: Not too many matter. Abraham Lincoln's is the huge exception, that "With malice toward none" speech, but he was uttering it when the civil war was winding down and it looked like the union was going to be victorious. They're important as olive branch speeches. Jefferson said in 1801, we are not federalists or not Republicans. We're Americans essentially. And the president might want to take that kind of bipartisan tone. It's about a unity speech. And anybody who's looking for a lot of new policy ideas aren't going to get any. This is about poetry and oratory.

BERMAN: President Obama hadn't been reelected 24 hours when he said he was well aware of the perils of presidential overreach in his second term. What did he mean by that? BRINKLEY: Well, I think of it as a bit of mythology but people call it the second term curse, and certainly in our lifetimes, Richard Nixon felt that when he had Watergate, and certainly George W. Bush must have felt the second term curse when in October of 08 the economy tanked on him. So you don't want to act like -- it's better to try to do one or two key things.

With that said, I think this president like just the way Eisenhower in his second term was able to talk about NASA and get NASA created, we might be able to do something with climate change, a large Manhattan project like on a climate issue. He's not going to solve that, but there's a power to that and also travel second term. Go to China. Go to the Middle East and try to become a big foreign policy president. He's getting us out of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Eisenhower got us out of Korea. I think Ike's in the air these days, there's Eisenhower revision going on.

BERMAN: Douglas Brinkley, as always so fascinating to speak with you. Thanks so much for coming in.

BOLDUAN: The connections to the past and past presidents is so fun it look at, and it's so amazing how there are so many similarities. When we get back, we'll have the latest news of the day, of course, plus a behind-the-scenes look what's happening at the White House this inauguration weekend.

BERMAN: First everybody we want to give you this week's look at the "Human Factor."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Miss Montana surrounded by more than 50 other beauty queens on stage. All hoping to become miss America. For most of her early life, Alexis Wineman spent her time alone.

ALEXIS WINEMAN, MISS MONTANA: I was very quiet because I couldn't say anything right. I was picked on for the way I spoke. I really didn't have any friends.

GUPTA: Her parents knew there was something wrong, but their small town of Cutbank, Montana, didn't have the resources to figure out what it was. At age 11, after years and years of searching for answers, a doctor finally put a name to her condition -- pervasive development disorder, a mild form of autism. Typically children with autism are very intelligent but very quiet. Socially awkward, and they don't respond appropriately to interactions with other people. Typically they don't end up becoming beauty queens either. But Wineman says one day she simply decided not to let her condition define her.

WINEMAN: I longed to really accept myself and my autism. And I realized that my autism isn't what defines me. I define what is autism.

GUPTA: She entered the miss Montana pageants as a way to prove to herself she could do anything she set her mind to. WINEMAN: I fell in love with the program. Good thing, too, because I won. I wasn't expecting to win, but it's funny how things work out sometimes.

GUPTA: That win put her on the national stage in Las Vegas.

WINEMAN: Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman!

GUPTA: Wineman made it as far as the top 15 and won the America's choice award for garnering the most online votes. She says the whole experience has been an amazing ride.

WINEMAN: It's been a challenge, but I've enjoyed it immensely. There are times when I do feel a bit overwhelmed, but those are going to happen in life anyway, whether you're going to be in miss America or not. So I'm willing to take all of that on.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.



BOLDUAN: Look at that adorable face. Welcome back to CNN's continuing coverage of inaugural weekend. We're having fun down here. You got to have a fun when you're working. I'm Kate Bolduan.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. This is like college football game day.

BOLDUAN: I always wanted to do game day.

BERMAN: We're doing political game day here in the nation's capital.

BOLDUAN: It's great. There is certainly a spirit of unity. There's a lot of spirit in Washington as thousands of people are expected to attend President Obama's second inauguration. But today is also a very special day of service. Brianna Keilar, our White House correspondent, is back to talk to us a little bit more about that. So the president and the first lady are involved with much more than just today's one service project we have video of them at.

KEILAR: That's right. In fact, you may it be familiar with some of the first lady's causes. Obviously I knew about her work with military families, her work to fight childhood obesity. A lot of people are familiar with that. You might not be familiar with the fact that mentorship is a very big cause for her. She reaches out a lot through events to at risk kids in the D.C. area. She has a sense of personal responsibility for this coming from pretty humble beginnings on the south side of Chicago. And she's talked at length about looking around her and seeing at risk kids who fell by the wayside who didn't end up being kind of really success stories the way she has been, ultimately a Harvard law grad. She did pretty well, but she knew a lot of people who didn't.

And so one of the causes that she has championed is mentorship. And that means tangibly there are about 20 girls who participate in this program where they're paired up with aides at the White House. There's also a program on the president's side so that high school boys come in, and they get to work one-on-one with their -- with their mentors and they also today are out participating in the national service day by painting at a school. No the school that the president and first lady were at, but doing another service project as part of their mentorship program.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, there is a special treat for kids tonight for kids later today, a concert.

KEILAR: The children's concert hosted by the first lady, as well Dr. Biden, the vice president's wife. And this is something that I'm told from a source was done at the request of the first lady specifically for the children of military families. So they'll have this concert. A lot of star power I will tell you. Alicia Keyes, there's brad paisley, Katy Perry, Marc Anthony, Usher, Stevie Wonder and many members of the cast of "Glee" will be participating in this concert to kick things off.

BOLDUAN: A little bit of everything for somebody. Brianna, thank you so much. We'll check back in with you.

BERMAN: Let's get you up to speed on the day's headlines right now. Overseas to Algeria where the hostage crisis has been going on. Right now it is reportedly over. According to the Algerian news agency, 23 hostage and 32 kidnappers have been killed. The agency is also reporting the Algerian military has freed 685 Algerians and 107 foreigners from the gas plant. An Al Qaeda linked group has claimed responsibility for this attack.

Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o says he is the victim of a sick joke. He tells ESPN that as recently as last Wednesday, last Wednesday, he believed his girlfriend was a real person even though had he never met her. A source tells CNN at least three people have been identified as the source of this hoax.

And after being locked out for more than 100 days, NFL players are back on the ice today. They reached an agreement last week with the league's owners. That agreement focused on revenue sharing. Some of the league players spent down time playing hockey overseas and will now play in the states. A 48-game season in 99 days. Go Bruins.


BOLDUAN: I knew you were going to throw something in. I think because my family -- I have family member who's root for the Red Wings, that's what I'll say, go Red Wings for now. When we come back, we're taking you back to the National Mall where we are for the national day of service for a very special guest who sometimes wear a crown.


BOLDUAN: Today people all over the country are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work for the official national day of service held every year during the Martin Luther King holiday. A service summit is going on right now at the mall to help people get involved in their own communities. Get out there. Get involved. Suzanne Malveaux is at the summit right now with a special guest. You're racking up the special guests today.

MALVEAUX: You know, Kate, you never know you're going to run into here. It seems like it's attracting high profile folks. I want to bring in Mallory Hagan, our new Miss America. This is her first week on the job. She is running and running and running. It is so nice to have you. Congratulations.


MALVEAUX: You have a couple of things on your platform that are pretty serious.


MALVEAUX: And you are bringing them out. You attracted attention this week, your comments you said you don't fight violence with violence. There's a big gun debate. Some people saw that as a dig to the NRA. Just weigh in on the debate if you will. What do you make of what is taking place here in Washington in trying to get guns out of the hands of violent folks?

HAGAN: The most positive thing is we're having the conversation. No matter what we're going to do here in Washington, either way, we're going to make a step towards a positive change. That's basically all we can hope for as Americans.

MALVEAUX: And how has your first week been?

HAGAN: It's been great. I'm excited to be at the national day of service. I've encouraged twitter followers to weigh in and. I'm having a great time meeting all the people and shaking hands and saying hello. I'm having a great time.

MALVEAUX: One of the things you talked about which is serious is combating sexual abuse. There was some of that in your own family. How important is that? And how big of a problem is that in our country?

HAGAN: One in four women and one in six men by the time they're 18 will have experienced some form of sexual abuse. It happens in every neighborhood. It's something we as Americans need to open up the conversation about. I'm happy to be a voice for that this year. I'm going to be working with a young woman, Erin Marin, trying to pass Erin's law in all 50 states. So we're having a conversation this weekend how I can make that happen for her.

MALVEAUX: What kind of law is that?

HAGAN: It will make child sexual abuse education mandatory in public schools in all 50 states. We're working to make that happen and hopefully we'll create real progress this year.

MALVEAUX: You know, you moved from Alabama, went to New York, 18 years old. You say sometimes you had $5 in your pocket.

HAGAN: I did.

MALVEAUX: Just to eat and get around. You are scrappy here.


MALVEAUX: People in Washington, they're partisan. They don't get along so well. You're going to go state to state all year you're traveling. What are you going to say to bring folks to the table, even if they disagree?

HAGAN: I think that the first thing we can do is happening right here. We can encourage everyone in America to become involved in their community and see things from a different angle. The sooner they do that, the better off we'll be. And the better off we'll be at listening to each other and understanding people's needs. I think that's the best way we can compromise sometimes is just to listen to each other and understand what's going on maybe in your neighbor's house and your community. That will be the first step for all of us.

MALVEAUX: Last thing here, you're 24 years old. You just turned 24. Do you have any advice for young woman? You left your home at 18, struck out on your known New York. What kind of advice can you give them?

HAGAN: My advice to you is live your life with discretion and create your own path. Live your life with discretion. Understand everything you put on the Internet out there, live your life in a way that you would be happy for your parents to always see, and that you can persevere. You can achieve anything you want to as long as you're dedicated to that goal.

MALVEAUX: Good to see you. I wanted to wear that tiara, but you told me it's pinned down. It's very good to have you here. Thank you for being a part of this day of service. Appreciate it.

Kate, everybody's here. Everybody's here.

BOLDUAN: Everybody's here.

MALVEAUX: We got everybody.

BOLDUAN: You are a queen and worthy of a crown in our eyes. That's all I have to say about that. Suzanne, we'll check back in with you. Thank you so much.

Big question is, can a divided country come together in President Obama's second term? Well, that is a very big question and that's ahead in our continuing coverage of inauguration weekend.

BERMAN: But first, thousands of Americans are traveling here to Washington, D.C. from all around the country. A lot of them are behind us right here on this mall. Our Tom Foreman meets one man making that journey.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All across the nation by planes, trains and automobiles, the faithful are converging on the capital. From Georgia, Maurice Madden made the journey last time to see Barack Obama take the oath. Now it will cost him about $3,000 and a couple of days vacation, but he's going again.

MAURICE MADDEN, TRAVELING TO INAUGURATION: I knew on the night that he was re-elected, as president of the United States that I wanted to return to Washington to be part of this celebration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president elect of the United States, Barack H. Obama.

FOREMAN: The last inauguration saw one million Americans witnessing this quadrennial moment. This year the crowds are not expected to be as big, but still enough to feel hotels like the historic Willard, where Steve Blum says he's met seven presidents.

STEVE BLUM, BELL CAPTAIN: I got a fist pump from Obama.

FOREMAN: And everyone has learned the festivities are not about any one person.

BLUM: What we celebrate is that we are the greatest democracy on this planet. And that we could have this transition of power, whether it be second term or whatever it be, like no other country can.

JIM HEWES, BARTENDER: You might not like the president, you might not like his politics, but he's the president. He's the only one we have.

FOREMAN: Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 was the first president to draw massive crowds. But in 1945, Franklin Roosevelt called off the big party when World War II was raging. Douglas Brinkley, historian.

BRINKLEY: That was a very unique year, and in most normal situations even if we're in recession or in a foreign war, we still throw pretty big inaugurals.

FOREMAN: For Maurice Madden, it is mainly a big moment.

MADDEN: I do believe that if I'm blessed to live to be an old man, I'll be able to look back on all of this and say I know that I was, you know, a part of American history and that really means a lot to me.

FOREMAN: A big part of his American journey.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.



BOLDUAN: I'm Kate Bolduan along with John Berman. This is CNN's special coverage of this inauguration weekend. Thank you for joining us. The presidential inauguration is supposed to be a time when everyone in Washington puts their differences aside to celebrate the president. But will that happen or has that happened? That's a big question.

You know those good feelings aren't going to last if they were ever here. Bipartisan cooperation has all but disappeared from the Hill especially in the last few months. Let's talk about the possibility of mending fences. Erick Erickson, editor of and a CNN contributor. Van Jones, also a CNN contributor and a former official in President Obama's first term in his White House.

Erick, I want to start with you, just to start off, look at this poll. This poll of polls says the president's approval rating at the moment is 53 percent, which begs the question, heading into the second term, who has the leverage right now on all of the major negotiations that we have under way? Specifically in my mind is the debt ceiling fight.


BOLDUAN: President or Republicans?

ERICKSON: The president probably has the debt ceiling leverage, although if you look at most polls they show a majority of Americans want cuts to go along with it. Keep in mind George Bush had a 53 percent rating at his second term. That didn't last.

BOLDUAN: When you say that the president has leverage on the debt ceiling negotiations, what then was behind the strategy that Republicans -- behind the strategy Republicans are putting forthright now saying they'll go along with the short-term extension?

ERICKSON: I think it probably was because the Republicans don't have a single voice right now, a common thread. The president has a bully pulpit. The Republicans don't. In fact two weeks ago, Republicans weren't in the media anywhere. They were trying to strategize and figure out what they were saying. In the meantime the president filled that vacuum quite well.

BERMAN: Van, you were involved in a presidential transition four years ago. What do they have to do now? What do they have to be prepared with starting on Tuesday?

VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, one of the things I think that's gotten overlooked today, the announcement that they are not going to mothball that incredible operation they've put up for the election. Obama, it is now going to be called organizing for action. That is a huge deal. The president has the leverage. He won with a huge mandate. Now he is going to use all of those operatives out there in the field from the campaign to push the agenda. And that is going to give him even more leverage in the heartland than he has in this town.

BERMAN: OFA in some form or another has existed over the last four years. It was effective sometimes but not always.

JONES: I think a big lesson was learned. There are a lot of people out there, you talk to the base Democratic voters. They felt disappointed. They came out, 1.8 million people the last inauguration, everybody happy. They went home and did not feel well utilized. I think the president got punished for that. This is a very different operation. John Carson, who is one of the best organizers in America, has left the White House to run the new OFA. The new OFA I think will be a game-changer. Part of the reason you see the swagger from the president. He knows he's got cards to play in the heartland.

BERMAN: Erick, is this a force conservatives worry about?

ERICKSON: Not necessarily because we're not convinced it goes beyond Barack Obama. Is it his coalition or the Democrats coalition? Republicans are in pretty safe gerrymandered districts. So I don't know that the House Republicans have to worry as much as maybe some Senate Republicans.

BOLDUAN: Let me very quickly is ask you about House Republicans. You supported the uprising against Speaker Boehner when he was up for election. He is still speaker. What is your advice to him what his strategy should be to deal with the president and actually also get anything done?

ERICKSON: I think if they want to go with a clean debt ceiling race, he has to make a continuing resolution. The public, not the Republicans, the public wants spending cuts. He needs to go along with sequestration and find some ways to cut government, shows that Republicans are doing anything. The problem with Speaker Boehner is he is a survivor. He's not really a leader.

BERMAN: Erick, Van, we'll have more with you in just a moment after this break on the two presidents. What are the president's biggest challenges he faces going into this second term? Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to our inauguration weekend coverage. We're having fun here on the National Mall. We are joined once again by Erick Erickson and Van Jones. Van, I wanted to ask you, you worked with the president on green jobs initiatives. Green jobs and jobs in general continue to be a very big challenge facing the president in his next term. What would you say the president needs to do or really can do realistically to try to get over that hump and create more jobs in this economy?

JONES: One thing he should do is take more credit for the good that was done with the first attempt to build a green jobs and clean energy economy. There are 3.1 million green jobs in America right now. There's 70,000 people who are going to get up on Tuesday morning, go to work in the wind energy industry, 70,000. There are only 80,000 coal miners. You've got real success there.

He got a lot of heat on the Solyndra scandal.

BOLDUAN: He sure did.

JONES: What people didn't look at though, that loan program was 95 percent successful. Bain Capital was only 80 percent successful. You actually do have work there to build on. I do think there's an opportunity to move forward. I also think that because you have climate now back on the agenda, the horrific outcome with hurricane Sandy has put that back on the agenda. That's number three on his agenda behind I guess immigration and gun stuff. There's an opportunity I think to go back to the table to get business and labor and environmentalists together to figure out a way to put more people to work building clean energy in America, building those wind turbines, putting up solar panels, going into biofuels. We can have more work, more jobs, more wealth, and better health with a green economy than without one.

BOLDUAN: Tough thing do with the focus on cutting spending though.

BERMAN: Is there any room there for Republicans, Erick?

ERICKSON: Probably not, largely because most of the green jobs program are dependent on the government for existence. The government can't keep pouring money into a lot of these programs. The coal industrial doesn't necessarily depend on lobbyists coming to Congress to get carve-outs in government.

BERMAN: Let me give you a chance to talk about guns, another issue where the president wants to move in the second term. Four months from now, say in June, where do you think we will be on guns? What will have been accomplished?

ERICKSON: Absolutely nothing. Nothing's going to happen. Even if they do something and pass something symbolic though Congress, we're not going to cut gun violence. Last year, there were 351 killed with rifles, 6,500 killed with handguns. No one, Democrat or Republican, wants to deal with that issue. It's not popular. They want to just do something for the sake of symbolism but even the assault weapons ban. Remember Columbine happened after the assault weapons ban.

BOLDUAN: Erick, you're not going to get the last word this time, Van.

JONES: But the coal industry does get a lot of support from our government.

BOLDUAN: We can see the bipartisan ship that is definitely going to still be here, or lack thereof, when the president begins his second term. Thank you.

BERMAN: Always great to have those guys here.

You'll want to stay with our continuing coverage of this historic inauguration weekend. Two of the most influential mayors in the country, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and their special insight on the next four years. That's next. Stay with us.