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Inaugural Weekend Starts; Algerian Crisis is Over; The Presidential Inauguration
Aired January 19, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. We are excited, because we are live here in Washington, D.C. and you are watching CNN's special coverage of President Barack Obama's inauguration. And look at this crowd behind me. They are so excited to be here. They have come from all over the country. Some people from all over the world.
How are you guys doing? Are you excited to be here? They are so excited to be here. I'm going to get out there and talk to those guys in just a moment. It is killing me not to be in that crowd. Sitting next to me on my left is Brianna Keilar. She is going to talk about what the president is going to do in his inauguration, why he is being sworn in twice. Why it will be his fourth time to be sworn in. We'll get to Brianna Keilar, she is going to sit here with me for a little bit. You look great, by the way.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. Good to be with you.
LEMON: Isn't this exciting?
KEILAR: It is a very exciting time. It's sort of like the Olympics, only happens every four years so it's a fun event.
LEMON: We'll get to this great crowd in just a moment. But we got some other news. We have to get up to speed on some news, and we do have some breaking news, as a matter of fact, and it's from Algeria where a military raid has ended a three-day terrorist standoff at a sprawling natural gas plant. 23 foreign hostages were reportedly killed.
Algerian state media reports some of the remaining hostages were freed and that 32 terrorists were reportedly killed in the operation. Still no word if any Americans are among the dead. More on this story in just a moment here on CNN.
And back here in Washington, the president and the vice president recognized today's national day of service, leading up to the Martin Luther King holiday.
The president and the first lady showed up at Burrville Elementary School in Washington to help in some service projects as a way to celebrate the life of a civil rights leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm always reminded that he said, everybody wants to be first. Everybody wants to be a drum major. But if you're going to be a drum major, be a drum major for service. Be a drum major for justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Of course, everyone is talking about that. That day of service, and the first lady's new look. The vice president and his family also volunteered, making care packages for the military at the National Guard armory.
On this historic inaugural weekend, thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest one of the president's most ambitious projects. Gun control. The group, Guns Across America, planned rallies in 49 states today to support gun owners' constitutional rights and to challenge any legislation that would restrict their rights.
Mean time, at least two people have been injured in an apparent accidental shooting at a gun show. It happened at the North Carolina State fairgrounds in Raleigh. Witnesses tell CNN affiliate WRAL, a gun went off at a safety check, hitting a man in the hand and a woman in the eye. Authorities are investigating that, and we will bring you more information on that as soon as we get it here on CNN.
Mean time, at least two people have been injured in an apparent accidental shooting at a gun show again. We told you that it happened in North Carolina at the state fairgrounds in Raleigh. Witnesses tell CNN that the gun went off at a safety check point. Again, more information on that just as soon as we get it.
We want to go to that breaking news now. The latest now on this unfolding crisis in Algeria. The terrorist hostage situation at a desert gas field appears to be over. We're hearing reports from the Algerian government that at least 23 foreign hostages and dozens of their captors have been killed. It's still not clear how many Americans may have been held at that facility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: With regard to the numbers of Americans, we are still trying to get accurate information about just exactly how many Americans were located there, and exactly what happened to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Earlier today, Algerian media reported a final push was under way against the militants who took over the gas facility on Wednesday. The Algerian army says 32 terrorists with links to Al Qaeda were killed in today's operation to free the hostages. As some of those freed make it home, we're getting eyewitness accounts here.
I want the you to listen to what it was like on the day the militants stormed the plant. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Around 5:00 a.m., we were sleeping. Then we heard the shooting. We didn't understand what was happening. Then a bunch of terrorists were there. I could notice different dialects, Libyan, Tunisian, Egyptian and Malian. The Tunisian guy said "Let's get the Japanese workers out." We were shocked. Many of us hid under beds so we don't know exactly what happened next.
We were listening to the fire shots. I hid for 48 hours under the bed. The army came next. We don't know how it happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So once again, we're hearing reports that at least 23 foreign hostages have been killed in a military operation at the Algerian gas plant. Still no confirmation if any Americans are among the dead. We'll get a live report from the State Department next hour here on CNN.
Back to the reason that we are here in Washington, D.C., the nation's capital. The second inauguration of the nation's 44th president, now less than 24 hours away. President Barack Obama will officially be sworn in tomorrow inside the Blue Room of the White House. And he'll take the oath again on Monday in public behind me on the west front of the capitol.
Look how excited these folks are here on the Mall. But there is plenty of excitement today building up to the big event. People are pouring into Washington. Many travel hundreds of miles to be part of history. Final preparations are under way. Set up decorations and security checks and just yesterday, soldiers and airmen arrived in Washington as part of the National Guard force of 6,000 helping in the inauguration. The culminating event, the commander in chief's inaugural ball, Monday night.
You're looking at the official program. There it is right there. From the decorations to the music to the security, we are going to cover it al for you right here on CNN. And no doubt, a big highlight of the inauguration is what the president will say. And White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joins me now. So Brianna, what is in the speech?
First of all, look at all these people back here. Hey, guys, over here, how are you?
You know, it's killing me not to be out there with them.
KEILAR: It's like game day.
LEMON: I know, it's so exciting. We can't walk two feet without people stopping us saying, we want to take a picture, we're so excited to be here. It's amazing. And they're here for the same reasons we are. To hear the 44th president be inaugurated again. What's he going to say? What's going to be in the speech? KEILAR: Well, of course the White House, in terms of specifics is keeping it under wraps. They want to wait until the president gets to deliver it. But we do know that it's largely written, even though there's still major tweaks being made. And the themes of it are set. We know that President Obama is going to be saying that there are some differences, yes. He'll acknowledge that there are differences, obviously, with Republicans. But he'll be saying there is a responsibility on issues where you can find common ground to work towards that common ground.
And Don, I know that he has been working on it quite a bit. He works during the day in the Oval Office on the speech. And then at night, he goes to the residence. And once his daughters go to sleep and his wife goes to sleep, that's normally sometime in the 9:00 hour, he will work. Because he's a night owl. So he'll stay up until midnight even after working on it.
LEMON: They're saying no surprises, no policy, no surprises in this?
KEILAR: No, I think the way to look at it is this is sort of the part one of the part two, which will be the State of the Union. Now, remember, four years ago, I think it was, what, 18 minutes? The State of the Union is over an hour long, or at least the last one was. So he'll be talking kind of broad strokes. And then he'll fill in with some of the details in the State of the Union next month.
LEMON: Yes. Hey, stand by, will you? This is the first time - didn't we anchor together?
KEILAR: Years ago.
LEMON: Years ago.
KEILAR: Nice to see you, Don.
LEMON: Saying I would love for you to co-anchor with me. Hey, stand by. Stand by. I want to go to Joe Johns. Don't go anywhere. I want to talk to you a little bit more about - Let's go to CNN's Joe Johns. There is a lot of security going on, a lot to talk about here. Joe Johns, talk to us about the extraordinary security happening here.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the first thing I have to say to you, Don, is so far it's all good news. Nothing to report. No special advisories, and we're sort of plugged into all the law enforcement people around the area. This is what is described as a national special security event that essentially means that thousands of law enforcement people are here for this. Of course, we have 4,000 D.C. police. We have a couple thousand police from other jurisdictions who have been brought in.
As you said, 6,000 National Guards people. And they're being coordinated by a group of authorities at a secure and undisclosed location here in the Washington, D.C. area where they sit next to telephones, watch television monitors of all of the thousands of cameras around this area looking for the first sign of trouble. As I said, no real trouble to report. The big issue, of course, will be crowd control. At least that's what they hope it will be. They're expecting a huge crowd, but certainly nothing like four years ago when President Obama was inaugurated the first time. That set a record.
So we'll be watching and waiting. And when we see any news, we'll send it to you, Don.
LEMON: All right. Joe Johns, thank you very much. Want to get back to our White House correspondent now, Brianna Keilar. Brianna, this is different because this will be what - the fourth time that he will be sworn in? That's rather odd, isn't it?
KEILAR: This - it's not only odd, it's historic. Because this is the first time that a president would have been sworn in four times since FDR. Remember, though, FDR was sworn in four times because he served four terms.
KEILAR: The president, as you remember, four years ago, remember, Chief Justice John Roberts sort of flubbed a line in the oath, the word faithfully.
LEMON: I remember that.
KEILAR: He kind of misplaced it. And the president kind of stumbled in response. And then the next day he went to the White House and out of an abundance of caution, the White House said he did the oath again. So that was two. And then because the inauguration day, as dictated by the Constitution falls on a Sunday, they have the inaugural ceremony on the Monday. So that's four times.
KEILAR: That's a lot of oaths.
LEMON: And they like it.
KEILAR: They like it.
LEMON: They're cheering for that. And they're cheering for you, Brianna. It's always such a pleasure to work with you.
KEILAR: Nice to be with you, Don.
LEMON: It's always a (INAUDIBLE) - yes, it's great. Remember the last time we were freezing four years ago.
KEILAR: I think it's going to be cold on Monday. I've got my long johns ready.
LEMON: Yes, this is our service today. This is our - we did our service today. But today is a national day of service. Have you done your part yet? There is still time. More ahead here on CNN.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: OK. Here I am, in the crowd. I asked for it, and I have it. We're down on the mall. And we're with some very excited people. And this is what I wanted. These people are so excited to be here for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. Some people said they are here from Washington, D.C., others are here from New York City. Where are you guys here from?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: California.
LEMON: You're from California.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
LEMON: What's your name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sabrina (INAUDIBLE).
LEMON: Sabrina is right here with me. Hey, guys in front, move over a little bit so we can see Sabrina on camera. When did you get here, Sabrina?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday. I go to school at the University of Maryland.
LEMON: Yes. Are you excited to be here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, very.
LEMON: Why are you here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The inauguration.
LEMON: The inauguration. And it's warm today. It's in the 50s.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's warm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In California it's cold.
LEMON: California is cold.
Are you guys excited to be here?
Did you - do you know today is the day of service?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LEMON: Did you guys do any service?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LEMON: Well, I know someone who is working and doing her part today, and that's CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, how are you doing your part? Are you out working or you're seeing a lot of people doing their part today? SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, I am working. But I don't know if the wobble has anything to do with community service. But there was a whole bunch of people, a whole group of people, who are doing the wobble, just a few minutes ago. DJ Mel literally is keeping this crowd going. They're learning a lot about the different local groups that they can get involved with. A lot of celebrities, politicians, activists who come up and have been a part of the day.
We saw Eva Longoria, Chelsea Clinton, Bo Biden, just to name a few, Yolanda Adams, just to name a few, all of them here really kind of revving up the crowd, getting folks out here to participate in this day. And Don, one of the people that you and I both know, Bernice King, the youngest child of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she was able to show us at the King's Center in Atlanta, the Bible that is going to be used for the oath of office, one of the two bibles that's going to be used and the importance of MLK day, the day of service and the fact that it is happening on the same day as inauguration day. We had a chance to catch up with her in Atlanta. I want you to take a look.
BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: Mrs. Obama will be - will have the Bible, and then, you know, pull it out for her husband to put his hand on.
MALVEAUX: Bernice King took her father's bible from its enclosed case at the King's Center to bring it to the president. She showed us its worn pages and her father's handwritten notes from 1954.
KING: I'm sure that this traveled with him as he left Montgomery, because I saw a Monday date, he would leave on Monday and fly back to Boston. So he was studying and meditating.
MALVEAUX: Bernice King says the president's second term perhaps is even more important than the first.
KING: And there's a lot of pain and a lot of hurt. We went through a lot of tragedy last year, a lot of political divisiveness. And it's just time for that healing and reconciliation and daddy's work represented that.
MALVEAUX: King says she believes President Obama, in trying to reunite the country, is striking the right tone.
KING: He could have after the election said how do you like me now? You know what I'm saying? It's hard. I mean, some people can be sore losers. That's just the reality. The president sets the tone in the nation. If nobody else does. He's compassionate. And Dr. King was compassionate. And he's committed to the next generation.
MALVEAUX: So what does king's youngest think President Obama should do next?
KING: Right before he was assassinated, he was in Memphis, Tennessee to bring attention to the work of the sanitation workers, those that were not receiving adequate wages and they were not being treated fairly. And he was in the midst of planning this poor people's campaign. And I would like to see more emphasis placed on poverty in our nation.
MALVEAUX: King specifically singles out the African-American and Latino communities.
KING: I know there has always been a concern about the African- American community not feeling perhaps that the issues related to our community have been addressed effectively. And I think there's some room for improvement in that regard.
MALVEAUX: I asked her whether gay rights is the next civil rights battle.
KING: I don't like to speak for him on issues that back then he didn't have an opportunity to speak on, because then I'm injecting what he would do. I certainly think that my father, first and foremost, he saw everybody as important. Regardless of how you define yourself. And whatever category you fit in. Your personhood. And he felt that everybody deserved dignity and respect.
MALVEAUX: King is encouraging folks to use her father's holiday and the inauguration as an occasion to serve.
KING: Although we have come a long way, we still have to finish the work of Dr. King.
MALVEAUX: Don, one of the speakers, one of the last speakers to wrap- up this event here was top adviser to the president, Valerie Jarrett. Had a chance to talk with her, asked her what the president's priorities are going into the second term, into his administration. Also had a chance to ask her to address some of the criticism, the lack of diversity that some folks are taking a look at, this new cabinet, when you take a look at chief of staff, CIA, state, defense, treasury, all of those positions held by white men.
And she addressed that criticism, as well. We're going to have that full interview coming up in the 6:00 hour. My interview with Valerie Jarrett, Don.
LEMON: Oh, Suzanne, we certainly look forward to that great interview. Thank you, Suzanne Malveaux. Hey, guys, how are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LEMON: These guys are so excited to be here. I should tell you, we have people from Turks and Caico, Los Angeles, Africa, Mongolia. They're from all over. Let me get this. Let me walk this way. We're on the National Mall. CNN is out here. We're among the people, they're so excited to be here and we're excited to be with them.
Hey, the president is going to take up the second agenda. It's coming up. There's going to be some challenges. We're going to talk with Ryan Lizza from the "New Yorker" right after the break. If I can get through this big crowd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there's no more higher purpose right now than to take care of the folks, put themselves in harm's way to protect our freedoms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than half a million folks have done more than one tour. That's a tremendous emotional and physical burden we have put on our folks that's totally unprecedented.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're acknowledging that people are always going to have some effect. We just want them to be able to be better at making that transition back to civilized society and not carrying around that pain of war for the rest of their life.
I'm Skip Rousso, clinical psychologist at the University of Southern California, Institute for Creative Technologies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: President Obama will kick off his second term with an ambitious effort to curb gun violence. It's an issue that really wasn't on anyone's radar back in election day. Let's talk about it now with Ryan Lizza, he's a CNN contributor and Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker." Ryan, this political battle over guns is going to take a lot of political capital for the president's second term. How can affect his agenda in the second term?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a risk, no doubt about it, a huge risk. If you look historically at second terms, the most important thing is in that first year, picking an agenda that is reasonable, that has a political sweet spot and can actually pass Congress. Remember George W. Bush?
LIZZA: In 2005, the first issue he picked, social security privatization.
LIZZA: He didn't really campaign on it in 2004. And it was defeated almost immediately in 2005 and his second term went down hill after that. So picking your agenda carefully is the key for a second term and it's a risk for Obama to pick something as controversial as this.
LEMON: Guns? I mean, that's a risky, risky move.
LIZZA: I think there are two things behind it. One, I think the president genuinely had a conversion on the issue after Newtown. He's talked about it. And two, the public, if you just - not to be crude about it, but if you look at the polling, it does seem like we are at a bit of an inflexion point on this issue where Democrats who have been scared of the issue for years aren't so much anymore.
LEMON: What about the news that House Republicans plan to vote next week on a three-month extension to the debt limit? What's the political strategy behind that?
LIZZA: It's pretty big news. Remember, this is what Obama asked them to do. They didn't ask for three months. He would like it to be extended much longer than that. He did say I won't negotiate. You just need to pass a clean debt limit. Republicans decided that after the fiscal cliff negotiations in December, we all remember that, that they weren't in a good bargaining position vis-a-vis the president. Their approval rating is very low. The president's is relatively high. And they needed to move the debt ceiling off the agenda, and not gamble with the full faith and credit of the United States.
LEMON: Let's talk about the Republican - we were talking about the Republicans now. Let's talk a little more about the Republicans.
LEMON: For the next four years. They don't seem to have a national leader. More a cohesive voice.
LEMON: What is their strategy for the next four years?
LIZZA: Look, their national leader will emerge as we get closer to the presidential elections. But you're right. They have, you know, as John Boehner likes to say, they have just this - they have the House. One half of one-third of what controls Washington. So Boehner is a national leader. You have Mitch McConnell, the minority leader in the Senate. But they don't have the platforms that the president of the United States has.
On the other hand, they do control the House of Representatives. And if - on gun control, immigration, a fiscal resolution to some of the fiscal issues.
LEMON: But they don't agree on any of those issues, though.
LIZZA: Not at all. So what's - how does he move his agenda through this Congress, right? When Republicans control the House? The only model we have so far is what happened with the fiscal cliff, right? Negotiate a deal on the Senate between Republicans, Democrats and the White House, and then force it through the House of Representatives by basically putting Republicans' backs to the wall and making them pass it either at the last minute, because there is a deadline approaching or because they'll be so embarrassed if they don't pass it. And that's not a great legislative strategy for every issue.
But the issue, the sort of strategic issue for the Obama presidency is figuring out how to get his agenda through the House of Representatives. That's everything. That is the shoal on which his agenda could crash.
LEMON: We'll have to leave it there. Thank you, Ryan Lizza.
LIZZA: Got it.
LEMON: And this crowd is here for you, man.
LIZZA: The signs, yes. I want to see a crowd surfing before the end of the weekend.
LEMON: I love being out there. They are amazing. It is inaugural weekend. And which means parties, galas, great people, a very special concert. We'll run it all down, next. We're going back out there, too.
LEMON: OK. Do you guys see that little -- look at that little Obama doll.
I'm Don Lemon. We're live from the National Mall in Washington. It is just past half -- just past the half hour here on CNN, live on the Mall. It's so amazing here. Excitement is building here in Washington to mark the end of President Obama's first term in office, and usher in the next four years. Among the traditions on these inaugural weekends are the galas and the parties.
In about 90 minutes, a very special host will kick off the kids' inaugural concert and our Brooke Baldwin is there. I like to call her Brookster.
Brook, are you ready for this the kids' ball -- inaugural ball?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don Lemon, I will take your National Mall and raise you a couple mega stars here tonight in this building, in the D.C. convention center, my friend, in addition to, of course, the first lady of the United States and Dr. Jill Biden, the likes of Katy Perry and Usher and Nick Cannon, Mindless Behavior, Far East Movement. I could keep going. The party will be here.
But truly, the stars tonight are the children. And what's so significant about this, and so near and dear to the hearts of the first lady and Dr. Biden, the fact that the sacrifices, of course, not just for our men and women in uniform, but for their spouses and for their children, and I have to tell you, across the street I talked to a bunch of kids who are psyched to be here. They understand why they're being honored, but really excited for the stars and their singing.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Who are you so excited to see perform? UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Katy Perry.
BALDWIN: Katy Perry?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: And my favorite song is "I Wide Awake."
BALDWIN: Can you sing a little of it for me?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Ssure. I'm wide awake, I picked up every piece, that's OK, it's because a story now --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We were hearing the next, you know, Katy Perry's out here on the sidewalk, Don Lemon. I mean, they're thrilled to see the stars perform. But obviously, this is really to honor the men and women in uniform, and as I said, the families.
From what I understand, this is a packed house. It's about 5,500 people. This is a ticket-only event and in talking to some of the folks putting this on, I mean, these are hand-picked families from the Department of Defense, folks from the Fisher House, Blue Star Families, the Wounded Warrior Project.
And I talked to one dad who was with his daughter, and he wanted to say thank you to the president, thank you to the first lady, to make this so special. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is big. It is. It really -- makes everything we go through, you know -- we look around now and it's so beautiful here. And we've been through some hard times. And you know, we looked around at other times and it was kind of different.
So to know that they care enough about those times, you know, to put on things, you know, here back home, it just feels wonderful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So as we look forward to this in about an hour and a half, Don Lemon, you have, of course, Malia and Sasha, the first daughters are here. I have been told the granddaughters of Dr. Jill Biden will be here as well.
So far, no word on whether they'll be on stage. If this is like 2009, I have a feeling we will see them showing off some moves on stage later.
Nick Cannon is hosting. We're hoping to talk to him. We're going to take this live.
LEMON: Oh, my God, who is not there?
BALDWIN: Don Lemon, back to you. You, apparently --
LEMON: You're going to have J.R. Martinez live this hour.
BALDWIN: J.R. Martinez coming up, "Dancing with the Stars." This is the place to be, my friend. You drew the short straw.
LEMON: Party, party, party. Brooke, we'll see you next hour. Thank you, my friend.
Parties, concerts, celebrities -- who is going where? Who will be performing? Everything you need to know about the inauguration, the social scene. That is next.
Look at that cute little nugget right there.
LEMON: The inauguration kick starts the Washington social scene -- kicks it into my gear. The Beltway parties, a concert, President Obama showing off his dance moves.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
LEMON: How often does that happen?
I want to bring in our "Washington Post" writer, Amy Argetsinger. She writes the "Reliable Source" column.
Amy, four years ago, the Obamas raced to 10 balls, and now, they're paring it down to two official balls? What gives here?
AMY ARGETSINGER, WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: I think they're consolidating that anything. Officials it's two balls. But altogether, these balls will have nearly as many people as last time around, about 40,000 people at two balls at the convention center.
This means that they don't have to travel as much, frankly. So they will have to dance on different levels of the convention --
LEMON: So what kind of dance sequel are you expecting? Is he going to dance this time like he did to Stevie Wonder, dance tunes or anything? Is he going to sing?
ARGETSINGER: I hope we'll see a line dance this time. That would be great.
LEMON: What do you think he's going to do, though? Any idea?
ARGETSINGER: I don't know. I mean, I have no idea. Really.
LEMON: Last time they did the great dance and then Beyonce sang. Yes. So this time, what do you think? The excitement is different this time. It's a little bit more reserved and pulled back.
ARGETSINGER: It always is for a second inauguration. It's just not as big a deal. Having said that, I've been astounded by the number of parties, balls, galas, events we have been getting invitations to just in the past three days. LEMON: I've noticed that. At first it was like what happened? Like last time I was like I had invites on and on and on. And this time just over the past couple days, I've gotten invite after invite after invite. What happened?
ARGETSINGER: Two weeks ago, I would have said it's quiet this year, the economy, less excitement. And yet in the past four days, I've gotten invitations to things I had no idea were going to happen, things coming out of the woodwork.
I don't know what it is. Some people are scaling back instead of having big dance parties at night, a lot of corporations are doing brunches. Whether that's actually less expensive or whether it's just supposed to look less expensive, I'm not exactly sure. But you are --
LEMON: You think it's about optics.
ARGETSINGER: Perhaps. I mean, that's certainly with the -- having the two official inaugural balls that are actually for 40,000 people, that's probably an optics thing.
LEMON: You know what I want to know, though. I've seen so much ink, so to speak, about online and print and even on television, about the first lady's haircut. I wonder if this Saturday, if people are going into their salons, Amy, saying, hey, listen, can I get the -- Michelle Obama?
ARGETSINGER: The Michelle bangs.
LEMON: What do you think?
ARGETSINGER: Yes, oh, I think so. We've seen the photo. We're going to want to see how the bangs move. That's what we'll be looking for.
LEMON: Let's see.
ARGETSINGER: I've got the side sweep. She got the straight across much.
LEMON: What is your favorite pick of the unofficial party this weekend? What's topping your list?
ARGETSINGER: That's hard to say. I think there are so many events. There's a lot of buzz, though, about the after-after party that Rahm Emanuel is doing Monday night.
LEMON: The after-after party?
ARGETSINGER: The Chicago blues party that starts at 11:00 at night, that's the ticket everyone is trying to get into.
LEMON: Amy Argetsinger. I said it right, right? ARGETSINGER: You said it beautifully.
LEMON: Wonderful, I like your boots, very cool. I could use them now. It's warm over here where the lights are and it's freezing back here. You came appropriately dressed. I'm not.
Thank you, Amy. It's always a pleasure to see you.
The inauguration includes the first lady, of course, and we're going to highlight that amazing woman. That is next.
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 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 the small town of Cut Bank, Montana, didn't have the resources to figure out what it was. And then at the age of 11, after years and years of searching for answers, a doctor finally put a name to Wineman's division: 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 wanted to accept myself and my autism and I realized my autism isn't what defines me. I define what is autism.
GUPTA: She entered the Miss Montana pageant 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 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.
ANNOUNCER: 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 were times that I do feel a bit overwhelmed, but those are going to happen in life anyway, whether you're going to be a Miss America or not. So I'm willing to take all of that on.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
LEMON: Michelle Obama has redefined the role of first lady. OK, you could say every first lady tweaks a role to suit her strengths. Michelle Obama is the only African to ever serve as first lady. Now, she is on the verge of another four years in the White House, four years without worrying about another election campaign.
Historian Catherine Allgor joins live me from California now.
Professor Allgor, welcome. How has Michelle Obama approached the role of first lady during her husband's first time?
CATHERINE ALLGOR, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, HUNTINGTON LIBRARY: Well, I think she's done a very good job. I could give her an A-plus.
You know, we study the first ladies and we study women, actually. So we get a sense of how politics operates on another sort of sphere. And one of the capacities that the first lady, the role of first lady, has is that it offers the person who steps into it the chance to be a symbol, to have a kind of symbolizing function.
So if she chooses, the first lady can decide whether she wants to be the face of her husband's administration, personifying it and sending out messages that are psychological and emotional in nature. And I think Michelle Obama has done that.
LEMON: You wonder about, you know, a sense of freedom for the second term. You see her, her new hairdo.
Do first ladies tend to express more freedom during the second term? I mean, once a campaign is over, is there less pressure to conform?
ALLGOR: Oh, I think there's a lot less pressure all the way around. But I do have a piece of advice for Mrs. Obama. Not that she's asked me for any of it.
But one of the other sort of opportunities a first lady has is she can use what we call the unofficial sphere or the social sphere of parties and events to build community. And that capacity for the first lady goes back to our first first lady in many ways, Dolley Madison. And it's kind of fitting we're talking about the first lady on the inauguration weekend since the very sort of first inaugural ball we think about was held in Dolley Madison's honor.
What Dolley Madison showed in Washington was how you can use those parties and social events to build political community. So, again, no one has asked me, but I would give Mrs. Obama the advice, give a lot more parties and invite everybody.
LEMON: And, Catherine, you were looking at pictures there, she certainly is a fashionista. Nancy Reagan was a fashionista and you're talking about Dolley Madison.
Let's talk about other first ladies. How do you compare Michelle Obama to her most recent predecessors, Laura Bush, and the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
ALLGOR: Well, I think that every first lady has to define the role for herself. So there are things that are available to her. She has access. She has chances to exert power.
The office of first lady has a power just in showing up. And I think each of our first ladies that in our living memory have exercised that power very well. I know that Mrs. Laura Bush was an incredibly powerful and effective first lady. But she did it rather quietly and a more behind the scenes kind of way. In fact, I would say her career after first lady hood is an example for all first ladies.
And, of course, Mrs. Clinton was a stepping stone to even more power.
So I think each woman defines it for herself. And I think Mrs. Obama has been a good example of that. I'm curious to see what she is going to do in four years.
LEMON: We all are. Thank you, Catherine Allgor. We appreciate it.
And you can't talk presidential inauguration without some historical context. So next, experts on the 18th century, the 19th century, and one on the to20th century all join me on the Mall right here in Washington, as well as all of these folks.
LEMON: You're going to want to watch this. I could have done the whole show on this.
Apart from the date and the oath of office, most of what we saw on Inauguration Day is not spelled out in the Constitution. And over the years, there has been a lot of unexpected things happen on Inauguration Day.
Let's talk about it now with the "BackStory" radio's American History Huys.
Peter Onuf is a history professor at the University of Virginia.
Edward Airs is a historian and he's also the president of the University of Richmond.
And Brian Balogh is a University of Virginia history professor.
I got it right, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. LEMON: Together, they are host of the public radio program "BackStory" with the American History Guys.
All right. Good to see all of you. Let's get right to it. I love it.
Let's start with the oath. So, Peter, the words, "So help me God" aren't in the official oath but supposedly George Washington ad libbed it and every president since followed his lead.
PROF. PETER ONUF, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Yes, well, we don't know. We'll never know. But I will tell you he invoked providence.
LEMON: If you don't know, who knows? Come on!
ONUF: Yes. Very much believe that God was a part of this thing. And if God wasn't on our side, to coin a phrase, it was going to go down the tubes.
LEMON: OK. So, Brian, speaking of the oath, President Obama took it twice four years ago, and he's going to take it twice this year, too. How unusual is that?
PROF. BRIAN BALOGH, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: It's very unusual.
LEMON: Good answer.
BALOGH: Taking it twice four years ago, a third time. There was a little boo-boo. It's not so unusual to take it twice when the inauguration falls on a Sunday, which is why he's taking it twice this time around, don.
LEMON: OK. Ed.
ED AYERS, PRES., UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND: Yes.
LEMON: I've been told to go fast. We all learned about William Henry Harrison in school, the president who got sick in his inauguration and died a month later. I'm just joking around. That was back in 1841. Is that really how it happened?
LEMON: It is. Really?
AYERS: It was the longest inaugural address in history and turned out to be really bad weather and that turns out to be a really bad combination.
LEMON: Really? AYERS: Yes.
What other memorable moments from inaugurations past should we know about? There are too many --
ONUF: Yes. Well, Ed, why don't you talk about Lincoln's second inaugural and the fact nobody thought that was a big deal?
AYERS: Yes, if you go back and read the press, the inaugural speech considered the greatest in American history now that we actually study and there's very few we do, Lincoln's second inaugural, binding up the wounds of the nation and so forth. The response at the time was what was that? What's he actually going to do with the South now?
ONUF: Yes, what kind of program is that?
LEMON: How did we get to -- how did we get to a tradition of having poets? It seems like every inaugural we have a poet.
AYERS: But we didn't get there until John F. Kennedy. He was the first one. Robert Frost in 1961.
BALOGH: In our lifetimes, Don.
LEMON: In our lifetimes.
BALOGH: Not yours, but ours.
LEMON: Yes, you're right.
LEMON: That was pretty close. I started thinking about that ever since when Maya Angelou gave her poem. And I was like, when did we start --
AYERS: It's a great tradition. I think the only thing better would be having a historian.
BALOGH: Or three historians.
ONUF: We do mythology at inaugurations and created a myth at the first one. That's the big deal.
LEMON: Put President Obama into a historical context.
LEMON: Right. In 20 seconds. Go!
ONUF: Yes. Well, we're still around. And I think the best they think is to refer back to the second inaugural of Lincoln and to imagine a great war to free slaves that end slavery in America. That one day, a descendant of -- well, we think he was, actually. That's right.
An African-American would become president is just astonishing. Nobody could have predicted it in a period when African-Americans didn't have civil rights. So I think that's --
AYERS: Also within our lifetime.
ONUF: Yes, right.
LEMON: Go ahead.
AYERS: I'm just saying that the pivot -- because if you were to look back and see what has shaped so many inaugural, so many elections all along, it's the questions of race and slavery. You know. The one that came closest to blowing up is 1877 when Rutherford B. Hayes comes in here and they think the Civil War is going to break out again because the two parties are so close.
ONUF: For some reason, Republicans and Democrats didn't get along back then. Can you imagine that?
LEMON: My gosh. I could sit and listen to these guys -- I'm at a loss for words. I listen to you guys and the producers are like let's go, and I'm like, go on.
Peter, Ed, Brian, thank you. Such a pleasure to meet you.
ONUF: See you in four years.
LEMON: Don't go away. We'll talk more in the break, seriously. And I would like to have you guys back on. I really enjoy listening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
LEMON: This is where it is al happening. The inaugural weekend, a celebration of our electoral process and a moment of great pride for everyone in this country. More from the Mall in Washington. That's next.