CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Algeria Hostage Crisis Ends; Thousands Gather for Obama's 2nd Inauguration; 26 Kids on Road Trip to Washington for Inauguration; Protecting the President; Historical American Journey and Inauguration Day

Aired January 19, 2013 - 17:00   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 live on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. And you're watching CNN's Special Coverage of President Barack Obama's inaugural weekend. The crowd is out here. It's getting cooler. Today it was warm. It was in the 50s. But it's getting cool at night. But that's not stopping the crowd from turning out. And we didn't think they would come out, because we thought it would be cold and they wouldn't be as enthused.

But boy, they are. We're going to get to all of that in just a moment here on the National Mall. But first, we want to get you up to speed on the news that's making headlines today here on CNN. And to breaking news, as a matter of fact now.

And the latest on the unfolding crisis in Algeria. The hostage situation at a desert gas field appears to be over now. 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 the facility.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: With regards 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: We're going to get live to the State Department in just a moment. But back here in Washington, the president and the vice president recognized today is a national day of service, leading up to the Martin Luther King holiday.

The President and the First Lady showed up at the 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)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), 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)

LEMON: The Vice President and his family also volunteered, making care packages for military and National Guard armory families.

The baseball world is mourning one of its all-time greats. Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver has died at the age of 82 years old. Weaver managed the Baltimore Orioles in four World Series and won a title in 1970. He was famous for arguing calls. And was ejected from 91 games. Weaver was elected to the Hall of Fame back in 1996.

We're going to get back to our live coverage from the National Mall inauguration weekend in just a minute here on CNN.

But first, we're going to get up to date to our breaking news overseas today. I'm talking about Algeria where a three-day hostage crisis is now over and did end violently. We're told there was a final military assault to free the hostages, many of whom are foreigners, some Americans. Dozens of hostages and hostage-takers are reportedly dead. Killed in the fighting at the gas plant in remote eastern Algeria.

We're going to get to the State Department now and our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty. Jill, what more do we know about how the hostage crisis ended today?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you can definitely say that it was very violent. In fact, we're still trying to pin down the numbers. You know, as the Algerian News Agency said, 23 hostages were killed, 32 terrorists were killed. But that area was mined. And, in fact, the British foreign secretary just talked about that, that it was booby trapped.

So as now they go in to clear it and make it safe, there is a lot that they may not know. And is still not a clear -- the operation is over, but it's not a cleared-out space. They could find things as they go through. Let's listen to the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. He said it very well this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PANETTA: With regards 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)

DOUGHERTY: And so that is really the key. Everyone who had any people in that location, at that plant, is trying right now. Those countries are trying to find out exactly what happened to every single person who was involved. Don, we -- at this point, we believe that -- we know that there was one American who was killed, and that six were either freed or escaped. But there could be others who were still unaccounted for. We have not heard from the White House yet. We haven't heard from the state department. So there may be still an evaluation going on -- Don. LEMON: Jill Dougherty, thank you very much.

Excitement is building in our nation's capital, ahead of the president's inauguration. On the National Mall, let's take a look right now. We're now across the city, people are waiting for the president to officially start his second term. Look at that. They're excited.

First, there's going to be a televised swearing in. It's going to happen Sunday inside the White House. And then Monday, the action comes outside to here on the mall, very public ceremony, of course. Everyone is going to be watching. The party might start on the mall, but by Monday night, it moves to the ballrooms on Washington of Washington, including the Washington Convention Center, the site of the commander-in chief's inaugural ball, the culminating inaugural event. And from decorations to music to security, CNN is covering all of the angles for you, for this inaugural weekend.

No doubt, a big highlight of the inauguration is what the president will say, of course. And we're hearing it's going to be less about policy and more about principle and finding some common ground.

We're going to bring in now our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar. Brianna, first, explain why this inauguration is a bit unusual. And, you know, the 20th lands on a Sunday, so he's got to do it more than once.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So constitutionally, inauguration day is the 20th.

LEMON: Right.

KEILAR: It is Sunday. And when that falls on a Sunday, then the big public ceremony is on the Monday. This hasn't happened for a long time, 1985, I think Ronald Reagan was the last time. And what's really interesting is because President Obama has to be sworn in tomorrow, and then he'll be sworn in again on Monday, he actually is the first president since FDR to be sworn in four times.

Of course, Don, FDR was sworn in four times because he served four terms. And that's not the case for President Obama. You remember there was that flub last time in the public ceremony. So, it was kind of redone out of an abundance of caution. So, four times comes Monday.

LEMON: Look at all these moving hands. I mean, this place is really getting crazy. They've got moving bands coming in.

KEILAR: That's right.

LEMON: Part for the media, part for the festivities. Part of what the president is going to do. So it's really gearing up. Look how beautiful the shot is. You see the sunset. Look.

KEILAR: Gorgeous. The capitol is a beautiful building and now it's almost a beautiful pink color right now. LEMON: Yes.

KEILAR: And that, of course, the west front of the building is where the inauguration will take place, right behind us.

LEMON: That's what going to happen. So what have you heard about the speech?

KEILAR: The themes are set. We know that. There is still some major tweaking that's being done at this point but the themes are pretty much set. And one of them is going to be the president acknowledging that there are differences, of course. He has differences with Republicans. But that there's a responsibility to work on issues where there is common ground.

You'll remember, four years ago he talked a lot about unity, of purpose. He was sort of calling for this post partisan era that didn't materialize. And so Don, he sort of has to acknowledge the fact that there is that reality. It didn't quite materialize, but he has been working on this a lot in the Oval Office during the day. He works in the residence at night after the girls and the First Lady go to sleep. They go to bed kind of early. He's a night owl so stays up for a few hours and gets cracking on this.

LEMON: You heard him earlier this week, he said, you know, I love a good party and the girls are getting older now and they want to spend less time with dad. I'm looking for something to do, so. Now he's working on the speech in the Oval Office. So neither President Bush will -- bushes will be here.

KEILAR: That's right, neither. It's not that surprising, I think, that President George H.W. Bush is not coming. He just got out of the hospital Monday.

LEMON: Right. Right.

KEILAR: He has been having health issues. Glad he's out of the hospital. But George W. Bush, he was here last time, as was his father. We don't know why he's not going to be here. That is somewhat unusual. Reportedly, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will be here. That's obviously expected. Another person who won't be here, Mitt Romney. That's not a slight, but it's kind of weird, because normally a challenger to a president is serving in some sort of official role in Washington. They have a reason to be at the inauguration. Mitt Romney does not. So he won't be here.

LEMON: Oh. Come back and co-anchor with me.

KEILAR: All right.

LEMON: I like hanging with you.

KEILAR: I like the recruitment. I like it.

LEMON: Don't you guys love Brianna? See? The crowd.

KEILAR: They're just -- they don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

Thanks, Don.

LEMON: It's certainly a beautiful shot. It is perfect, the capitol behind us in the sunset. And it's great to be here with people. We're going to get out with the crowd.

Thank you, Brianna Keilar. The festivities, you know, they're drawing people from all over the world, crowds from all across Washington. We're going to talk about security, and what's going on. We're ramping up for the second inauguration and we'll have more when we come back. Right after this. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A beautiful shot of our nation's capitol. There is a lot of excitement here of course for the President's second term. But it's tempered by the four years, just ended and the difficult relations between the two parties. I want to talk about what's ahead with two of our favorites.

My friend Anna Navarro is here, she's a CNN contributor and she's a republican strategist. Cornell Belcher is here, he's a CNN political analyst. It's good to see both of you. I'm going to start with Cornell first. Because Anna -- and you're not going to say anything, because your mic isn't working. So, you can't say anything. Oh, it is working --

ANNA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wait a minute. Wait.

LEMON: What did you say?

NAVARRO: This is a conspiracy.

LEMON: What did you say?

NAVARRO: I said I'm having a great chocolate sandwich.

(LAUGHTER)

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: She is the luckiest woman in D.C. right now.

LEMON: You know I love you, Anna. It's so good to see you. She said she was in the middle of a chocolate sandwich.

(LAUGHTER)

NAVARRO: And I like chocolate.

BELCHER: Tell your republican colleagues.

LEMON: President Obama came, Cornell, came into office promising a lot of change but the tone in Washington really got worse. What gives here? What happened?

BELCHER: It did. I think when you look at the history of it, you know, you had something very different with President Obama, something that never happened before. And sort of culturally --

LEMON: Hang on. Your beard. Just pull your mic away -- there you go.

BELCHER: There we go. Is that better?

LEMON: Yes.

BELCHER: Sorry, I got to shave tomorrow.

LEMON: There you go.

BELCHER: So, I think you --

LEMON: Come here, Cornell.

BELCHER: You're going fix it?

LEMON: Yes.

BELCHER: Thank you. That's love right there. That's love right there.

LEMON: Go ahead.

BELCHER: So, I think when the president came in, you saw a lot of people who were a little shocked, a little sort of cultural shocked by what was going on. So it was a natural reaction to some -- to me, sort of more culturally than it was anything. You can't disagree with the President's own policies. But when you saw sort of reaction to the president, you know that wasn't all about politics. And I think moving forward, you see him talking about it's not just him being the change. But we are the change. So we all have to work toward that change. We can't just depend on him to make that change alone.

NAVARRO: I'll tell you what I think happened.

LEMON: Go ahead.

NAVARRO: In his first two years, he had the Democrat House, he had the Democrat Senate, he had the White House. And there were a lot of things that were passed unilaterally, where it was only the Democrats really taking part. And the Republicans felt very antagonized, very ostracized, very left out. And there was a lot of anger. That's what you saw in 2010.

LEMON: But didn't the Republicans say in the beginning, though, we're not going to work with this guy, we're going to make sure that he only -- he is a one-term president, he's not going to get anything through? Couldn't the Republicans have done more to work with him, Anna. NAVARRO: I think it's a two-way street. Every relationship in life, Don, whether it's a friendship, a marriage, a relationship, or a political relationship, is a two-way street. I think yes, the Republicans can do more to work better with President Obama. But I also think President Obama can invest a lot more in building the political and personal relationships with the Congressional leaders. He's not done that very well.

In the last couple of press conferences, I've seen from President Obama have been rather divisive, rather antagonistic towards Republicans. I'm not letting Republicans off the hook. I'm not saying Republicans have not done plenty to be antagonistic, but he is the president, he's got the biggest bully pulpit. I hope that on inauguration I hear a tone of unity and an invitation to work together from him. Because I haven't heard it since the election.

BELCHER: I would like to jump in and push back on that a little bit Anna. You talk about someone -- in the health care debate, for example, some of the stuff in the health care reform package, were, in fact, republican ideals and he asked for Republicans to join in. On the stimulus package, you know why there were so many tax cuts in the stimulus package? Because he was hoping to get Republicans to come in on that. Because guess what?

Republicans are for tax breaks. But we all know what the President's space was unprecedented, where you had a set of republican leaders who said from the outset, that our number one task is to make sure this president fails. No president had ever seen that. And I understand, we were on the cusp of something almost like the great depression here and Republicans stood fast and said our number one priority -- Mitch McConnell, our number one priority is to see the president fail. That's unprecedented and it really is unprecedented.

NAVARRO: I agree that there is some lack of precedent on that. But there is also lack of precedent on the amount of big-ticket items that were passed with nothing but democrat loads.

LEMON: Listen. Listen.

NAVARRO: And it has not helped. I think it's fermented a -- you know, an environment that's become increasingly uncivil.

LEMON: All right. We have exhausted this subject. We have exhausted this subject. I want to move on real quickly and I don't have a lot of time here. I want to talk about you said that the President seemed antagonistic and there are other people who say, the president is more confident now and has really come into his own in the second term. She said antagonistic. Do you see antagonistic or more confident now?

BELCHER: I think there's some big things the country has to do for gun reform, for example. Big things that the president -- he has to do. He has to be strong and show leadership to get these things done. You know, Republicans are ready to come out and say, you know, they don't want to have anything to do with it. So as a leader, he's got to sort of pull together the country, go to the people, organize and get this thing done. He can't wait for Congress to -- wait for Congress to do it. He's got to try to get as much done as he possibly can.

NAVARRO: I think he's both things, more confident and more antagonistic, maybe more antagonistic because he is more confident.

LEMON: Last word.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you very much.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

LEMON: Hope you enjoyed your chocolate sandwich.

(LAUGHTER)

According to at least one psychologist, Washington has a difficult task on Monday. She is going to explain why it's important to make a distinction between an inauguration and a coronation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360" (voice-over): For 29-year-old, Pushpa Basnet 2013 begins on a high note. Basnet was named "CNN Hero of the Year" for her work providing a home for children of incarcerated parents in Nepal. I sat down with her right after the big moment.

(on camera): How do you feel? You just won.

PUSHPA BASNET, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR 2012: I think I'm dreaming. It's a big honor for me. I will never forget this night in my life.

COOPER: What was going through your mind when you -- when you were walking up on stage?

BASNET: We all are winners definitely. I see my dream coming true.

Thank you so much. (INAUDIBLE) living in the prison. Definitely Mamu's going to take you out from the prison and you are coming to my place. And this is for my children.

(APPLAUSE)

And thank you so much for everyone who believed in my dream.

COOPER: And the kids call you --

BASNET: Mamu. Yes.

COOPER: What does that mean to you when you hear that? BASNET: It means a lot to me. In the reality, I know that I'm not their original mother but I'm their so-called mother to give them a better life and better education that's for sure.

COOPER: What was the inspiration?

BASNET: I'm very fortunate to be brought up in the family what I was. I had good parents until now they give me everything. But there are some children, you know, whose parents have gone missing and they are also suffering and I said I should give it to them.

COOPER: And some of your kids were watching, what did you want to say to them?

BASNET: Your Mamu did it. And I'm sure you are proud of me whatever I am doing.

COOPER: I'm proud of you, too.

BASNET: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And we are proud of all the people who showed up for the second inauguration of the president. Look how beautiful the capitol looks tonight. And look at all of the gorgeous faces! Out on the mall. They showed up to be with us here at CNN. And we are very happy that they're here, because we're getting ready for the presidential inauguration and you might be asking, why do we do it, I mean, other than, you know, it is the law.

Wendy Walsh is a human behavioral psychologist, and Wendy, you say there is a bit of a fine line here. We Americans walk during an inauguration, right?

WENDY WALSH, HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERT: It's true, Don. I think that we struggle with the idea of having this kind of inauguration, because it feels a lot like a coronation. And that's what America sort of fought very hard to get away from. We left the monarchy. Many, many years ago. But yet we want to have some pump, some circumstance. We want to talk about Michelle's dress. We want to know who designed it. I honored her today by cutting my own bangs to match her new haircut, and I'm sure half the women in America --

LEMON: I know about this.

WALSH: Hey, Don, bangs is the new botox, that's all I can say. So, I think that we want to have some pomp and pageantry, but we want still be clear, this is an inauguration, it's the beginning of a second presidential term. This is not the king and queen. Got it?

LEMON: Yes. OK. So by the way, the bangs look good. You always look great. This sort of ritual, though, goes back -- some would argue, hundreds or even thousands of years. The leader in front of us, people taking an oath. Why do we need that? WALSH: You know, as human beings, we like to have rights of passage. We like to mark things. Listen, New Year's Eve is nothing but a date on the calendar. But look at the New Year's resolutions it helps people make. So this is almost cleaning the slate clean so that he can start again, second term, what are the plans. And we can move forward. And we need some kind of celebration to mark that.

LEMON: What about for those at the ceremony, those who take part? Some people at the inauguration, I mean, they may be rubbing elbows with people they don't get along with.

WALSH: Which I want to add right here, Don, I'm showing you my invitation to the inauguration that I received. Unfortunately, I don't think it's to the main ball. I think it's just to the street party. And I won't be able to attend anyway. But there will be a lot of people with -- having differing political views who are there together. But think about it this way. We have to learn to work together. This is one president for the entire country, we're all Americans before we're anything else and we ask our kids to shake hands after a sports game, don't we?

So after an election, we ask everyone to get together and shake hands. And actually, I think this could happen. I think that physical behaviors can change our thoughts and feelings. So they should smile at each other across the aisle. They should shake hands across the aisle. And maybe we'll get something done this term.

LEMON: And we can all sing Kumbaya.

WALSH: We can. Oh, and one other things, Don. Listen, I may not be going to the inauguration. But it's important that everyone in America honor the MLK day, day of service. If you just go to mlk.org or mlk.gov?

LEMON: .Org.

WALSH: You'll find it. Just Google it, .org, thank you. And put in your zip code. You will be amazed that in your own community, there are dozens of very simple things that you can do to give back to your community on Monday.

LEMON: Good advice, Wendy Walsh, thank you very much.

WALSH: Thanks.

LEMON: A very special concert gets under way minutes from now as part of the inauguration festivities. We're going to take you there when we come right back. The excitement builds here on the National Mall!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Coming up on half past the hour, we're going to look at your headlines right now. Algeria, a three-day hostage crisis now over. Some Americans were among the nearly 800 gas fieldworkers taken captive by what are believed to be Islamic extremists. That was three days ago. The Algerian military launched a major push to free them today. It's succeeded but dozens of people, both hostages and captors, were killed.

We need to warn you now that this video is disturbing. A Bulgarian politician narrowly escaped an attack at a party conference. Watch this.

My goodness. His 25-year-old assailant was wrestled to the ground. Police arrested him and said he was carrying two knives along with a gun. It's believed that the gun misfired twice. And you can see much more of this by logging on to cnn.com.

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has admitted what many say they already knew. Not a single one of his seven Tour de France titles was a clean win. But in part two of his sit down confession with Oprah Winfrey, well, we got a glimpse of why Armstrong may be coming forward now. He teared-up when he recalled telling his son not to defend his record anymore. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANCE ARMSTRONG, FORMER PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST: You know, he can't -- yes. That's when I knew I had to tell him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, he also told Oprah his cheating has cost him sponsorships worth about $75 million. And be sure to watch, CNN presents "The World According to Lance Armstrong," it's an in-depth investigation tonight, at a special time, it's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

If you're looking for excitement, you know where to find t. It's right here on CNN. It's in Washington. It is the place to be. Thousands of people are here to celebrate President Barack Obama's second inauguration. If you can't he here, you can watch it right here on CNN. Minutes from now, a very special event, the kids' inaugural concert kicks off at the Washington Convention Center.

She is so lucky. Brooke, you got all the great assignments. I'm mad at you right now, a little bit jelly.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. I know. Golden Globe last weekend, inauguration this weekend.

LEMON: I was supposed to go with you, but I had the flu.

BALDWIN: Go ahead, Don.

LEMON: We could have been hanging at the Golden Globes. But, you know. So, who you got tonight?

BALDWIN: You would have been a very handsome date.

So tonight -- by the way, I was just inside. We're in the convention center in D.C. Just to give lay of the land, upstairs is where the party starts in just about half an hour. So let me tell you, the Secret Service presence is here. The reason? The first lady of the United States will be here in attendance. She will be the one who is introducing the closer tonight, if you will, Katy Perry, the big headliner. Not just Katy Perry. I was backstage and saw Usher. You are Far East Movement. I just talked to Nick Cannon, the host of this shebang here want to.

The point, Don Lemon, of these big stars, really the stars are the children. This whole thing, very near and dear to the heart of both Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden is military families, not just honoring men and women in uniform, but honoring the spouses and children. And tonight, it's about the kids. I just talked to a mother whose husband is about to deploy for time number five. Talked to her, talked to her little 8-year-old.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: OK, M.J, big concert tonight. Who are you most excited to see?

M.J. GREENTREE, INAUGURAL CONCERT ATTENDEE: Katy Perry.

BALDWIN: And why is that?

M.J. GREENTREE: Because I know a lot of her songs, like, "I'm Wide Awake."

BALDWIN: And this is your first concert tonight, right?

M.J. GREENTREE: Yes.

So mom, it's his first concert for your two kids.

VIVIAN GREENTREE, INAUGURAL CONCERT ATTENDEE: Yes.

BALDWIN: You guys live in Alexandra, Virginia. Your husband is about to deploy for the whatth (ph) time?

VIVIAN GREENTREE: Fifth time.

BALDWIN: Where is he headed?

VIVIAN GREENTREE: To Bahrain this time.

BALDWIN: The fact that this concert is put on by the first lady and by dr. Biden, and for you, little man, and for all the military families, how does that feel?

VIVIAN GREENTREE: It's really nice. Because this is, for our family personally, one of the last things we'll do together before my husband deploys. And we'll get to do it together. And this morning, we did a service project for the National Day of Service.

BALDWIN: Oh.

VIVIAN GREENTREE: And, again, it was something we could do together, in the spirit of service. And, you know, it's a nice way to end or start a deployment.

BALDWIN: So when your dad goes away, are you bummed out?

M.J. GREENTREE: A little bit. We entertain ourselves together.

BALDWIN: What does your dad do when he goes overseas?

M.J. GREENTREE: He's helping people. And sometimes -- well, his rank is commander-in-chief. But I don't really know --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Oh, he's commander-in-chief.

M.J. GREENTREE: Yes.

BALDWIN: So it's a little like commander-in-chief is the president and he's also the big boss, huh?

(LAUGHTER)

Mom, what's his rank?

VIVIAN GREENTREE: He's a lieutenant commander.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: That's OK. We can upgrade him.

VIVIAN GREENTREE: Yes, you just made him the --

BALDWIN: That's OK.

Speaking of the commander in chief, M.J., if you could talk to the president of the United States right now, what would you say to him?

M.J. GREENTREE: I would say I'm having a great time with all this stuff we put together, to have fun, and get ready for all of the people who are serving us to go on deployment.

VIVIAN GREENTREE: From the service project today, we were saying, while we were packing, we hoped one of them might end up in his dad's command when he's over there.

BALDWIN: You know, Malia and Sasha, the first daughters, are going to be in there tonight. What would you say to them?

M.J. GREENTREE: Are you having fun with the concert, and stuff like that. And are you getting ready for the big deployment for all the Navy and Marines and people who served our country?

BALDWIN: Awesome. Just final thoughts from you on this whole evening.

VIVIAN GREENTREE: This is just very exciting for us. We've already seen about ten people we know. So even though it's a huge group and everybody, you know, is here from the greater metro area --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: It's like family.

VIVIAN GREENTREE: It's so like family. And that's just like a military.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much, you guys.

And thank your dad for me, all right?

M.J. GREENTREE: Yes, ma'am.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: I love that, commander-in-chief. I thought it was adorable.

Quickly, it's -- will be a packed house. Let's throw the live pictures up and you can see the hustle and bustle. The concert starts at the top of the hour, 5,500 people in attendance.

Talking to people putting this on, Don, and they said really these families -- this is a ticketed event. This is a way for the White House to give back to the community, a number of students here from the D.C. public school system. And also, of course, as we mentioned, these children hand-picked from Fisher House, Blue Star families, Wounded Warrior Project. So this is a really special night.

Yes, we know we're here, Don, for the president and this weekend. But really tonight it's about the children of our men and women in uniform. It's amazing.

LEMON: Thank you, ma'am.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: I was just saying that because the little kid said that to you, "Thank you, ma'am."

All right, Brooke, thank you very much.

You know the saying, "What journey can be as exciting as a destination"? We'll find out if that applies to the inauguration after I hit the road with some students from Missouri on their way to witness history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back to the National Mall in Washington --

(CHEERING) LEMON: -- with hundreds if not thousands of my closest friends, from all over the world.

Imagine getting an all-expense-paid trip to the inauguration, and you're in high school, and all you have to do really is win an essay contest. That's what happened to 26 kids from University High School in St. Louis. And I got to spend some time with them.

Here's my time with them now. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What time is it?

(SHOUTING)

LEMON (voice-over): Teen spirit --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is most excited?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Me.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Me.

LEMON: -- hard work and keen writing skills paid off big-time for all 26 of these high school students.

JANAE MILLER, STUDENT: To get to this trip, we had to write a paper about how the election affected us.

LEMON: In an essay contest, they beat out almost 200 juniors and seniors from St. Louis's University City High School. Packed their bags, boarded a plane, and hopped the bus to the nation's capital.

(on camera): And now you're in D.C. going to the capital and the inauguration.

MILLER: Yes. Awesome night.

LEMON (on camera): They're great writers, but they're kids. And sometimes their mouths get ahead of them. And so does the excitement.

(on camera): What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Um --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I'm at a loss for words.

LEMON (voice-over): For senior, Ethan Farber, this was more than just an essay, a field trip or a re-election.

ETHAN FARBER, SENIOR: This is America realizing that to put an African-American in office wasn't a mistake, wasn't, you know, a fault in judgment or anything. This is us realizing that he can do just a good a job as anybody else could do.

LEMON: But the inauguration is days away. Now it's time to see the sights.

(CROSSTALK)

(SINGING)

LEMON: (on camera): You guys aren't supposed to sing about beer.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: That's why I said, Kool-Aid --

(SINGING)

LEMON: You say "pop" in St. Louis.

(voice-over): First stop, the capitol. And a group pic.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: That's it. Hold on.

LEMON (on camera): Don't you love it?

(SHOUTING)

LEMON: Yes? Was it everything you hoped it would be?

(SHOUTING)

LEMON: And more?

(LAUGHTER)

What did you see?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Uh --

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Oh, full of words.

Where to now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Washington Monument.

LEMON: To the monument, let's go!

(SHOUTING)

LEMON: What do you think when you see that?

CAMARON BALLARD, SENIOR: I think about Martin Luther King's speech and how it was when he gave the speech. And now I'm looking at it a bunch of years later.

LEMON (voice-over): This is history, the second inauguration of the first black president and the first lady.

AUN'YIEA WATSON, STUDENT: Hopefully, I don't cry or anything, because that's a really important moment for me. I like that she didn't forget where she came from. She knows how it is to not have anything. And now that she's in the White House, she's still doing what she can to help us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Those kids were so excited. And guess what? They're going to be the very special guests of Senator -- Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. They'll sitting next to her Monday at the inauguration. So congratulations to them. They beat out 200 other juniors and seniors from University High School.

(SHOUTING)

LEMON: They're not the only ones excited. These folks are excited as well.

This way.

Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: D.C., Washington, D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Madagascar.

LEMON: From Madagascar?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: L.A.!

LEMON: You're from Los Angeles.

Where are you from, little fellow?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Virginia.

LEMON: You're from Virginia as well.

As one lady back here -- you were telling me, where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Swaziland (ph).

LEMON: Swaziland (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I come from Paris.

LEMON: Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Sierra Leone, West Africa.

LEMON: Oh, my goodness. There are people here from all over the world.

What about you, little fellow? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honduras.

LEMON: And how about you, big guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just here for you, Don Lemon.

LEMON: That's my producer, Julian. I'm messing with him.

And what about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm from Atlanta.

LEMON: You're from Atlanta, Georgia. That's where I live.

And you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. Virgin islands.

LEMON: Are you excited to be here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I am.

LEMON: Yes.

What are you guys watching? What's your favorite channel?

CROWD: CNN!

LEMON: I had to do that shameless plug.

We're very excited that you're here. Thank you. We want to be out among you. And we're happy that you watch CNN.

And check this out. Look at this little Obama doll. That has been here. It's like a little -- what do you call it, Flat Stanley.

Listen, we're going to talk about breaching security to protect the president. I'm going to do that with best-selling author, Brad Meltzer. That's coming up here on CNN. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, for weeks now we have been seeing the preparations for President Obama's inauguration, but it may be the measures you don't see that are the most fascinating.

The host of the History Channel's "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" is the author and a meticulous researcher. And Brad told me that for his new book, "The Fifth Assassin," he got a lot of high-level schooling on what it takes to protect the president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRAD MELTZER, HOST, BRAD METZLER'S DECODED & AUTHOR: It's interesting, when I was doing research -- listen, I'm doing a book called "The Fifth Assassin" right before inauguration. There's no surer way to get your phone tapped. But I like the reality of it and I kept asking the Secret Service about how we protect these places all around Washington, D.C. And what they do is they -- it's called penetration testing. And we've been doing it since the first world wars. And what the government does is we break into our own buildings. We sent our own side, the good guys, into the White House, into the Library of Congress, into Congress, and they try and literally break in and penetrate. It's a test. And if you penetrate -- they will do Army bases. And one of my favorite stories is a general who basically is having his base tested. And he doesn't want to look like a fool. If you get broken into, then you look like your security is not good. So he actually warns his troops and says, listen, someone is coming to test security. And the guy who I know and who I spoke to got into the base, held a gun to the guy's head and said "You lose, I win," penetration test over."

LEMON: Wow.

They have done this with inaugurations, right?

MELTZER: They do. One of the people I spoke to, as I was researching my novel -- and I can't tell you which inauguration it was for, but actually did the penetration test for the inauguration a couple years back. And he actually got through, not just to the parade stand, but got right underneath where the president sits and put an imaginary bomb.

LEMON: Wow.

MELTZER: And it's an amazing moment when you realize this can be done. The good news is -- and this is all not about things to panic about. This shows what the government is doing right.

LEMON: Yes.

MELTZER: They are testing these things. They're closing these holes. And we're doing it ourselves. But those penetration tests are going to save a lot of lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Full Brad Meltzer interview, CNN.com/don.

People are traveling thousands of miles and spending thousands of hard-earned dollars to celebrate President Barack Obama's inauguration in Washington.

As CNN'S Tom foreman now reports, the inauguration journey is about much more than the president. It's about connecting with American history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All across the nation, by planes, trains and automobiles, the faithful are converging on the capitol. 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 days vacation, but he's going again.

MAURICE MADDEN, INAUGURATION ATTENDEE: 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!

(CHEERING)

FOREMAN: The last inauguration saw 1.8 million Americans braving the freezing temperatures, the crushing crowds, to witness this quadrennial moment. This year, the crowds are not expected to be as big --

STEVE BLUM, BELL CAPTAIN, WILLARD HOTEL: Hi, nice to see you again. Welcome back.

FOREMAN: -- but still enough to fill hotels like the historic Willard, where Steve Blum says he's met seven presidents.

BLUM: I got a fist pump from Obama.

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

BLUM: What we've celebrated is that we are the greatest democracy on this planet. And that we could have this transition of power, whether it be a 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.

Historian Douglas Brinkley.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: That was a unique year, 1945, and most situations, even if we're in a recession or we're 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: And look who joined me here. Among all the people is Mr. Wolf Blitzer, THE SITUATION ROOM is coming up. Look how they love you all. Very nice people.

BLITZER: They're very nice people, they're very excited.

LEMON: An historic weekend, history unfolding.

What do you have?

BLITZER: We'll have a special two hours with some major, major surprises coming up. Whic which I can't tell you about yet. But I want the viewers to stick around, they will be very excited. Gearing up, big day tomorrow, the official inauguration, and then Monday, all the public ceremonies will take place, so a lot of good work ahead of us.

LEMON: You saw me out in the crowd?

BLITZER: I did.

LEMON: I heard from your producer that you offered to go crowd searching with me.

BLITZER: We had people from all over the world, this is exciting.

LEMON: Thank you, Wolf, we'll be watching. I'll be on your show with you, as well. And Wolf, you know coming from William McKinley, to Barack Obama, we have film and video from 100 years of inaugurations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, welcome back everyone. We're back out in the crowd, hey, I want you to take a look at this. You're looking at the first known photograph of a U.S. presidential inauguration. Hey, the Library of Congress says leading up to the first day, a man named John Wood was experimenting with this new technology called photography. On the big day it took Wood nearly four seconds to take the photo of the president, march 4th, 1857. Well, technology improved shortly after that. So here is film and video showing the president from the last 100 years of taking the oath.

No, this is not carnival day in pumpkin center. It is the day of days in Washington, D.C.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

The presidential oath of office.

Here comes the inaugural parade.

Are you prepared to take the oath of office at president of the United States?

I am, sir.

Left hand on the bible and raise your right hand.

Raise your right hand and repeat after me.

After me.

I William Jefferson Clinton.

I Jimmy Carter.

I Barack Obama.

And I will faithfully execute the office.

Execute the office of president for the United States, faithfully.

The president of the United States.

The president of the United States.

Will to the best of my ability.

To the best of my ability.

Eisenhower began his second term as leader, not only of America but of al free people.

Will protect and defend the constitution of the United States.

The constitution of the United States.

Vice President Lyndon Johnson, takes the oath, which brings him together with the body of the late president back to Washington.

The flag flies at half staff.

President Truman.

So help me god.

So help me god.

So help me god.

So help you god.

So help me god.

So help me god.

With hope and patriotism.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: Okay, so here we are, I'm going to give you a little bit of behind the scenes, they will be broadcasting from over my shoulders. You se all the port-a-potties, here to the right there, Wolf Blitzer preparing for his broadcast up on stage. And to the left here, that is the crowd. And then show the Capitol way over there in the distance to the left. You see there is a beautiful shot of the Capitol, if we look back there. So as we look at the Capitol, I want to ask these folks and go down the line here and ask you, where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Tennessee.

LEMON: And you came for the inauguration?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure did.

LEMON: Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Philadelphia, will you sign my book for me?

LEMON: I will, I'll come back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Hampshire.

LEMON: And you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexandria, right here.

LEMON: And you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: San Francisco, California.

LEMON: Yes. Great, it is a lot colder here, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, a lot colder.

LEMON: And where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. virgin islands.

LEMON: Oh, my goodness, people are from all over the world. You?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm from (INAUDIBLE) North Carolina.

LEMON: Awesome, and where are you from, red?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From South Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Madagascar.

LEMON: Madagascar. look at this, return of the king. There is a big sign there that says we're so excited to be here. How are you doing, man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.

LEMON: Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vancouver, Washington.

LEMON: From Vancouver. Are you excited to be here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, really excited to be here.

LEMON: What about way in the back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colgate University.

LEMON: Let me grab this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minneapolis, Minnesota.

LEMON: Minneapolis. What is your name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maria.

LEMON: You have a beautiful smile.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, so much, so do you.

LEMON: I love the outfit. You wear your sunglasses at night?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I do.

LEMON: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to do something different.

LEMON: Because you're that cool?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely.

LEMON: Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New Jersey.

LEMON: It is so loud. I don't know if the producer is going to queues or not? Are you guys talking to me, or no, keep going? Keep going, OK?

Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From South Carolina.

LEMON: What's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Davis.

LEMON: Davis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. LEMON: How old are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm 14.

LEMON: Are you serious? You look so excited. You are like, Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm excited.

LEMON: And you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Laurel, Maryland, local, yes!

LEMON: Yes, what about way in the back, in the cheap seats, what about the folks in the cheap seats. Hi, cheap seats, where are you guys from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

LEMON: I used to live in Philly. Where?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great, where about?

LEMON: Where you from first?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outside west Philly, near Penn.

LEMON: I lived near Monroe street, between second and third. Do you know where that is from? Yes? Where do you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Don. From D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am from Massachusetts.

LEMON: OK, so listen, why are you here? Why are you excited about being here the second time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love President Obama, I love his choice in his partner, Michelle Obama. And I love what he has done for all the education.

LEMON: You're all about education?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am all about education, and woman's rights.

LEMON: And women's rights?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

LEMON: This is something that is not as serious, what do you think of the first lady's new hairdo? Have you seen it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first lady?

LEMON: She has got a new hair cut.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't seen it yet, but I'm dying to see it Monday. I'm going to be at the ball.

LEMON: Are you really?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I am.

LEMON: Where are you guys from, back here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dallas, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm from Kentucky.

LEMON: You are from Kentucky, did you come just for the inauguration? Why are you here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an Obama fan obviously.

LEMON: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

LEMON: What do you like about President Obama?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can't really say right now, I don't know.

LEMON: Yes?

Well, listen, we are so happy that you guys are here. We thank you for joining us and for being with CNN.

Thank you so much, have a great time and stay warm.

That is it for me, now it is time for "the SITUATION ROOM" and Mr. Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Don, thank you very much.