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Thousands of People on the National Mall Celebrating National Day of Service; Kids' Concert; Usher and Far East Movement Performed in the Concert for Military Families

Aired January 19, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, we're live here on the national mall right here in Washington, D.C. where the inauguration weekend is in full swing. Crowds have been out all day, festivities include parties. And right now, an all-star concert.

On Monday, the main event, hundreds of thousands of people will gather here to watch president Obama take the oath of office for his second term.

I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Washington, together with Kate Bolduan, and you are in the SITUATION ROOM.

Beginning right now, the kids' inaugural concert across town here in Washington. It is about to begin, among the performers, Katy Perry, Usher, and the cast of "Glee".

Kate, how exciting is this. We are going to hear them all.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm getting very excited. I don't know if you know this. other than politics, pop culture, and music, Wolf Blitzer's two favorite things, you love to sing.

BLITZER: Sports.

BOLDUAN: Spots are in there. But, you do love to sing, Wolf. That's for sure.


BOLDUAN: Michelle Obama and Joe Biden are hosting this event to highlight support for military families.

CNN's Brooke Baldwin as things are kicking things off.

Brook, give us a little taste.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I love that you ousted Wolf Blitzer, and then, he is so hip to pop culture. I mean, Wolf and w were talking. I feel like not too many months ago, when he was all excited about seeing Lady Gaga at the Verizon Center.

Well, I'm here to tell both of you that we are going to be seeing Katy Perry, as you mention Usher, Far East movement, Mindless Behavior, which apparently is all the rage among the teenage crowd. But, I was just backstage a little while ago talking to Nick Cannon. He was the one tapped to host this whole thing. And keep in mind, this is all about, not just our men and women in uniform, this is all about the kids. Because they're the ones who sacrifice, as well, when their moms and dads are gone serving the country months and months at a time. So, I talked to Nick Cannon, about why it was so important for him to be here in Washington tonight.


NICK CANNON, HOST, NBC'S AMERICA'S GOT TALENT: This is amazing, I mean, there is a lot of balls going on in the next few days. But I feel like this is one of the most important. Not only because it is for the military families, but then it also focuses on their children. So to be able to you know, kind of pay respect to the service of our military, and then at the same time honor the kids, it is a beautiful thing.


BALDWIN: Speaking of honoring the kids here, Wolf and Kate, I was talking to this one mother who was bringing her 8-year-old and their 6-year-old, this is actually their first concert. What a first concert?

So, they're here tonight because their father is actually about to deploy in a matter of days, it's their final big family gathering. He is about to leave. This is his fifth deployment. This is a special evening for them. They're so grateful for the first family for putting this on. Watch this.


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


BALDWIN: And why is that?

GREENTREE: Because I know a lot of her songs, like I'm wide awake.

BALDWIN: And this is your first concert?


BALDWIN: So mom, this is first concert for your two kids. You guys live in Alexandria, Virginia, you're husband I about to for - what time?


BALDWIN: Where is he headed.

VIVIAN GREENTREE: To Bahrain this time.

BALDWIN: The fact that they're putting this concert on, for you and the military families how does that feel?

VIVIAN GREENTREE: I mean, this is really nice, for our family, personally, it is one of the last things we'll do together, before my husband deploys.


BALDWIN: I have to tell you, I have run into a number of pint-sized Katy Perry fans here. So a lot of excited youngsters for the concert.

Quickly, I just some new information as far as who is in attendance because, keep in mind, just upstairs this is a huge, huge ballroom. You're seeing these live pictures at the convention picture, 5500 people. A lot of these families and children, students at D.C. public schools. This is a way for the first family to give back to the community, but also the military families.

So, I just got this list. We have folks here from Hamilton, in California, Fort Hood in Texas, Joint Base Pearl Harbor, obviously, Hawaii, Coast Guard, Clearwater, Florida, Naval air station in Italy, in fact, that is kind of interesting. At least, 28 graders who they have flown here for the weekend because a lot of their parents, they are based in Italy, a lot of their parents are deployed. And so, this was a way for them to have a fun weekend here in the capitol, rocking and rolling with the couple of big stars. The event I'm told is running in just a couple of minutes late. But, who is first on deck is Usher.

Wolf Blitzer, you an usher fan?

BLITZER: Certainly am. I'm looking forward to Usher. You know who else somebody - I'm looking forward to Katy Perry. I know Kate is looking forward --

BOLDUAN: I'm a huge fan. Not only her name but --

BLITZER: Now, do we know the songs they will sing? Give us a clue, Brooke. I'm going to get ready for --

BALDWIN: Well, listen, listen, in talking to these kids I can tell you that the kids would like to hear about the Friday night song, they like to hear firework. I was serenaded actually on a sidewalk from a couple of kids. As far as what she is actually singing, we will have to wait and see. The first lady at the end, she will be speaking for a couple of words and she will be introducing Katy Perry.

So, standby for that, Wolf Blitzer and Kate Bolduan. Standby.

BLITZER: Firework. I want to hear her sing Firework, right?

BOLDUAN: I want to hear her t. And if she doesn't, then, Wolf will sing it for all of us.

BLITZER: And what about Usher? Because Usher is on -- he is on deck. He is coming up right away. I want to hear what he is going. Do we have a clue what he is doing? BALDWIN: Wolf, no, this is tight-lipped stuff. This is like do we know what is going to happen when the president is sworn in? Do we know what Usher is singing, I don't know. Be patient, Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: I just tweeted and put a hash tag surprises coming up here in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: I think our viewers either in the United States and indeed, around the world.

BOLDUAN: And indeed on this set.

BLITZER: Brooke, don't go too far away. We're coming back to you in a moment. Right?

BOLDUAN: We absolutely will, and will check back in with the kids' concert throughout the next couple of hours. And of course, we'll bring you all the best performances to you, live, here in the SITUATION ROOM.

BLITZER: We are so, so excited.

BOLDUAN: You are so, so excited.

BLITZER: Love the music.

The president and first lady, they also love the music. They also honored this national day of service by helping volunteers stain a book case at an elementary school right here in the nation's capitol.

BOLDUAN: Yes. We watched that happening earlier today. The president took a minute to talk about the importance of service to the country.


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


BLITZER: Vice president Joe Biden and his family also took part in this national day of service. They helped put together care packages for deployed troops.

BOLDUAN: Yes, they sure did. Many people getting involved with service today.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux had the very, very, tough, tough assignment of covering the national day of service. You had one star after another after the other. SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I had a great day. I had a fun day. I know you (INAUDIBLE). They were doing the wobble. They were doing the wobble. It was a party. I'm telling you.

BOLDUAN: You made a really good point, Suzanne, that what is a better way to get people out to sign up and do service projects, put some celebrities out there?

MALVEAUX: They had celebrities, they had music, I mean, at least hundred different kinds of organizations for people to sign up and volunteer, thousands of people showed up.

So, of course, we saw Eva Longoria talking about the need to get out and participate and give back to the Latino community. We saw Beau Biden, the vice president's son. He was talking about veterans affairs. As we know he serves in the military. Chelsea Clinton, who talked about her father and the fact that he actually signed legislation to make MLK day, the official day of service.

Had to chance also to catch up with Valerie Jarrett, one of his closest advisers to the president. What is he feeling? What is he going through during this time as he preparing to take oath of office once again. And What is it like - what it would be like to actually have Martin Luther King's bible as wee. Had a chance to talk to her, there are a couple of things she said.


VALERIE JARRETT, OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: There is nothing quite like that first time when you walk out and you see the mall is full of people who come from all over the country and the world to celebrate your first inauguration.

So, that was historic. We have been through a challenging four-year period. He has been very emotional about the campaign and all of the young and older people who have just rolled up their sleeves and worked so hard to get him reelected for a second term. And so, I think it will be a deeply emotional moment.

MALVEAUX: There is criticism about his new cabinet. If you look at CIA, chief of staff, secretary of defense, secretary of state, secretary of treasury, all white men. What does he need to do moving forward so that there are more people who look like you and look like others who are in his cabinet?

JARRETT: Well, Suzanne, the president has a long reputation of surrounding himself with diversity whether it is racial or gender diversity. He grew up surrounded by women. His first cabinet reflected that diversity. And he is committed to the second cabinet and the White House staff, and they will do the same. And so, judge him when he is finished, not when he is just beginning.

I am confident helping, know the president know for nearly 22 years, and everyone, when they see his final cabinet, will appreciate that he has picked the absolute best people best for the job, and that they will reflect the diversity of our country. MALVEAUX: And a question here. The King's bible is one of the bibles that he will be using on Monday. Why was that important to him?

JARRETT: Well, this is Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday weekend. It is his life was dedicated to service. We are here today with a national day of service. He gave one of the most amazing speeches of our nation's history right here on the mall. And so, it seems appropriate that he would use his bible. And we are just grateful that they allowed us to barrow it.

MALVEAUX: And Michelle Obama, the first lady, she is a power house in her own right, but she is rocking the base. What's that about?

JARRETT: They rock. I think she is just rave it is a fun new hairstyle, and she wears it well. And Michelle is always full of surprises. And I think as first lady, she makes everybody proud.


MALVEAUX: You know, I had to go there, rocking the bangs. I mean, that is Michelle Obama, she is always setting the trends, if you will. One of the people I had a chance to talk to, before getting here at the King's center, Bernice King, his youngest daughter. And she talked about the importance of how special it was to have the bible travel to the first family to be used on Monday.

So, we are going to roll that out tomorrow, talk a little bit about what that means, and the legacy and the attachment, the connection between the Obama family and King family.

BOLDUAN: Definitely looking forward to that.

BLITZER: I'm so excited. I love the bangs. Don't you like the bangs?

BOLDUAN: I do like the bangs.

MALVEAUX: Wolf, we'll all have to rock the bangs, next time. Wolf, you start the trend.

BLITZER: You know, I don't know if I can -- the two of you with the bangs.

BOLDUAN: When you shave your beard, I'll get the bangs, OK.

BLITZER: All right. let's see the bangs.


BLITZER: Suzanne, you remember a few years ago we went to the (INAUDIBLE).

MALVEAUX: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Brooke Baldwin was with us as well.


BLITZER: Usher is coming up. We are going to be hearing what he has got to say.

Good. Good. OK.

BLITZER: You like Usher.

MALVEAUX: I do like him.

BLITZER: You like Katy Perry, you like Far East Movement?

MALVEAUX: Well, I like them all.

BLITZER: But first, get ready. We got surprises. There you see there.

BOLDUAN: You see the one person that didn't get the invite to the soul train awards, this guy.

BLITZER: You got to let forward.

MALVEAUX: We'll invite you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: You can hang with us.

BLITZER: The kids' inaugural concert coming up especially right here on the SITUATION ROOM.

Also, coming up, what will the president of the United States say in his inaugural speech on Monday? Can he do anything to ease some of the bitterness across the nation?

Stand by, you're in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: You're looking at live pictures from the kids' inaugural concert that is taking place here in the Washington at Washington convention center, not far from where we are. The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama will be here, Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of the vice president, she will be here as well.

But Kate, do you know who else will be here?

BOLDUAN: Who is going to be there, Wolf?

BLITZER: Let's get the viewers a little update. Usher will be performing, momentarily. We are very excited about that. We're also excited about Katy Perry.

BOLDUAN: We are very excited about Katy Perry.

BLITZER: She was out there campaigning for the president, not that long ago. We have some video, there she was, you see the president of the United States. She is campaigning for the president of the United States. This was late October, the Las Vegas rally. You notice the skin tight white dress, designed to look like a presidential ballot. That was the box -- see the name Barack Obama, she -- Joe Biden. There she was supporting the president of the United States. Very, very, very cool.

BOLDUAN: I think it is starting right now.

BLITZER: Something is coming up.

BOLDUAN: We're watching people come out right now, the kids' inaugural concert. Take a look here.

BLITZER: Yes. Looks like Dr. Jill Biden --

BOLDUAN: Dr. Jill Biden and some of her grandchildren, as well as the first lady and Sasha and Malia.

BLITZER: Very cool.

BOLDUAN: And this is, I believe, the first live performance of the new Michelle Obama bangs, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. You can see there, there is Sasha and Malia over there. They are going to have a lot of fun tonight. We are going to watch it unfold.

They are going to begin with some pledge of allegiance. The kids are going to say something. It is going to go on and then Usher will be performing. I want to make sure we will hear some of Usher as well.

BOLDUAN: We, absolutely, will.

Looks like they just welcoming everybody. Brooke Baldwin told us a little earlier that about 5500 people are attending. Everyone is - all of them, most of them, at least, children of service members. And Brooke Baldwin is going to be bringing us live coverage of that throughout the evening. You see the first lady and her daughters sitting there in the front row getting ready for the performance. We're watching it unfold.

BLITZER: This is going to an exciting time for them all.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

But first, from the parties to the pageantry, obviously, watching the parties to the pageantry, though, to the solemn tradition of the presidential swearing in. This three-day inaugural weekend requires an extraordinary amount of preparation. I am sure you can imagine.

BLITZER: It certainly goes without saying that it has to go like clockwork, where our own Brian Todd has been looking into what is going on.

Brian, set the stage for us because this is a very, very complicated couple of days.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Wolf and Kate. You know, speaking with the historian, Douglas Brinkley earlier today, he says that a flawless inauguration is the biggest advertisement for American-style democracy.

Well, at the moment, we're all watching how Washington has been preparing for this event, how planners, security officials and other are now scrambling to clear a mountain of logistical challenges.


TODD (voice-over): It seems overwhelming. A city has to prepare for one of the biggest ceremonial events for the western world. And if it doesn't come off seamlessly. Tens of billions of people will notice.

To presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley, that is what makes the inaugurations so captivating.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PROFESSOR, RICE UNIVERSITY: Due to the way the media covers it and public interest, it becomes our grand carnival. It is like, you know, the best three-ring circus our country can device.

TODD: Brinkley had covered five inaugurations as a broadcast analyst. He says part of what draws people to watch, the sheer sides of the crowds, the wide sweeping views.

It is also the transformation of these venues that is so fascinating to watch. Here, the west front of the capitol has been entirely restructured with new podiums, stands, seats, flags, the president is going to be on that podium at noon on Monday when he is sworn in. And at that time, this entire opened area will be well, not quite as opened.

Officials say for President Obama's second inauguration, Washington's national mall will have about half as many people as it did in 2009. But that still means about 900,000 people will show up. That also means, one of the biggest security challenges for single event.

Former deputy White House chief of staff, Joe Hagin, coordinated security and logistics for inaugurations.

What don't we know about what goes on security wise along the parade and elsewhere? The plain clothes security with the crowd?

JOE HAGIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, the people are so focused on the parade itself, what they don't realize is that the people watching at home on TV, they don't realize the layers of the perimeter that extend out from the parade route. I mean, there is a lot of heavy security, quite some distance from the parade route, because the whole idea is not to let somebody who would wish to do harm get even close to the event.

TODD: This year's preparations have been replete with rehearsals, with stand-ins playing the president, vice president, first lady, chief justice.

There is a big emphasis on Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy this year, with President Obama using one of King's bibles and the event being held on the King holiday. But Brinkley says, it his speech, the president has an opportunity to expand on that.

BRINKLEY: Why not open it up and talk about Cesar Chavez, or what Latinos have had to struggle? Meaning, King's dream is for new immigrants, and it is for Latinos, native Americans, women, people who have been disenfranchise.


TODD: And as Brinkley points out, the president owes his re-election in no small measure to Latino and women voters, so any symbolic mention of them would probably go a long way - Wolf and Kate.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

We will stay in close touch with you, a lot of logistical problems, potentially. Let's hope they don't take place.

BOLDUAN: We sure hope not. The inauguration speech and what the president will say. So much more ahead



BALDWIN: What would you say to Sasha and Malia? Do you have a message to them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say thank you, because they have to -- well, their dad is the president, and they have to go through a lot of stuff, too.


BOLDUAN: Our coverage of the inauguration weekend continues. How is president -- I think we're going to go live right now to the much- anticipated performance at the kids' inaugural concert.

BLITZER: I think it's Usher. He is performing. Let's listen in.

BOLDUAN: Here we go.

USER, SINGER: Ladies and gentlemen, make some noise.


BLITZER: All right, there he is, Usher. He is performing at the kids' inaugural concert here at the Washington convention center. The first lady of the United States, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia are there. Dr. Jill Biden is there. Usher, very, very cool.

You know, they may be there, we have Brianna Keilar here, we have Gloria Borger here. We got a lot of good people here. We are so excited. You know, we're going to do a lot, lot of reporting. What is going on? We are going to go back to the kids' inaugural concert --

BOLDUAN: And maybe, some dancing.

BLITZER: Do you want to hear from Katy Perry?

BOLDUAN: I want to hear from Katy Perry.


BLITZER: You like those red boots?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think I need to see Wolf Blitzer in those red boots.

KEILAR: He almost wore them, it would have been embarrassing.

BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We're back here on the national mall. It is the weekend of the presidential inauguration, the president will be sworn in to a second term tomorrow, just before noon eastern on Monday at the public ceremony, public swearing-in and ceremony taking place. We're watching what is going on. Kate Baldwin is here. Brianna Keilar, our White House correspondent is here. Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst is here.

Brianna, you got some details about what the president is going to tell us on Monday.

KEILAR: That is right. We're hearing in broad strokes that the themes are set. And he will acknowledge, obviously, some of the differences that he has with Republicans. He may not be that specific. But, that is what he will be talking about. And he will be stressing that there is a responsibility to work on issues where there can be common ground.

This will be different a little bit, obviously, from the speech he gave four years ago, where one of the big lines was stressing the unity of purpose. And we know he has been working on the speech a lot. He has been working during the day, in the oval office, with his chief speech writer, John Favreau. And then, what he does is he goes home at night. And after having dinner with his family, and after his girls and his wife go to sleep, normally around the 9:00 p.m. hour, he stays up for a few hours. You know, he is a night owl. And so, he gets in a few hours there working on his speech. Major tweaks going on right now, but he will sort of fettling with it, make it some minor tweaks probably into the last minute, his aides joke around about it.

BLITZER: He is a very good writer. We know that.

KEILAR: He takes a very heavy handed in writing a speech like this.

BORGER: He makes changes right up to the last minute.

KEILAR: That is right, yes, Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Not only a second term for President Obama, but also a second term for vice president Biden.

And Gloria, you had a chance to sit down with the vice president, kind a get us up. how did he seems? What were your impressions?

BORGER: Well, he seemed very much in the zone, I have to say.

BOLDUAN: What do you mean?

BORGER: Well, Joe Biden has been through a lot in his vice presidency. You know that he is full of gaffes, and bore the brunt of a lot of jokes about him. But what I would have to say is that his relationship with the president has grown closer. And the Joe Biden that I interviewed yesterday, which we're going to release after the president is sworn in on Monday, the Joe Biden that I heard on Friday was somebody who has found his role in this White House. He is the closer. He is the guy who cuts the deals. He is the person who does the things that the president really doesn't like to do, which is get into the nitty gritty with members of Congress, because after all he spent 36 years there.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Gloria, much more on the interview to come.

BLITZER: The interview is going to air?

BORGER: It will air on Monday right after the president is sworn in. And --

BLITZER: Good work.

BORGER: And the White House just doesn't want anybody to get in the way of that big moment.

BLITZER: All right, don't go too far away. Brianna, don't go too far away. We are going to watch what is going on at the convention center right now.

Usher, he is performing at the kids' inaugural concert. Let's listen in a little bit.



BLITZER: Looking at live pictures over there at the kids' inaugural concert at the Washington convention center. We just heard from Usher, he performed. That is Nick Cannon, the host of "America's got talent." He is the Emcee, for tonight.

We will go back there later. The party is move to Katy Perry, others performers are getting ready to perform for the first lady. And for the second lady, Dr. Jill Biden, there with the kids and grand kids. They are all having a great time. Remember, the children of the military, they're all there, the families are there, more than 5,000 are there and they are all enjoying what is going on.

BOLDUAN: There is a little bit for everybody in the concert tonight. All the music tells us something about the president and his family, as well.

CNN's contributor and Democratic strategist, Hillary Rosen. She has some very special insight on this. She founded MTV's rock the boat as well and used to be the head of the recording industry, Association of America.

BLITZER: Hillary, thanks very much coming in.


BLITZER: So this is a mix of the music industry, if you will, and politics?


BLITZER: And an historic weekend.

ROSEN: Always a big moment, right, in these big events when artists come to kind of symbolize what the moment means for the country. And it is a very good way to connect. Barack Obama, obviously, has had, you know, unprecedented success in getting the artists to be supportive of him over the course of the last several years.

BOLDUAN: It is a diverse group of artists, from country to pop, to r&b, and everything in between. What does it say?

ROSEN: It says everything. I think about the president like -- look at the kids' concert, it's aimed at the kids in military audience. And you have the hip-hop, you know, Asian band, the first Asian band that ever really topped the charts in the U.S. --


ROSEN: And then you have Usher and then Katy Perry, who is kind of the new queen of pop. And you got the soul church singers from Chicago. There really is -- this is kind of the Obama coalition, right? This is the new power in this country, of this coming together.

BLITZER: I think we'll hear from Far East Movement. They played a role in the campaign, as well, if you will remember.

ROSEN: Far East Movement was a hip-hop band that really gained a huge amount of grass roots and organic support for the president with a fantastic video called "for all".

BLITZER: You see the mascots at the Washington national baseball team, the former -- late president, shall we say? BOLDUAN: This is the tradition at the national baseball game, just to fill in our viewers who are not from the Washington area. A big deal about this. Teddy Roosevelt, he never wins this race, he always falls. But he did win in late last year, so that was a very big deal in Washington, just to update you on what we're looking at as we continue our conversation.

ROSEN: He did, but the nationals didn't.

BLITZER: That's right. That is absolutely right.

So Hillary, we want you to tell us the story about the teen band, "Mindless Behavior." you said they first performed at the White House as a fill-in band. There is a great story from that.

ROSEN: Yes, they are a bunch of teenagers, none of them are, I think, even 18. They are from Los Angeles. All, young African-American boys, created by a producer who is looking for a band. They came to the White House (INAUDIBLE) last year, not very well known at all. But they blew the roof off, if you can on a White House lawn. Everybody loved them, especially the first lady. And they specifically requested that they come back for the inaugural. And now, they're just a huge teen band.

BOLDUAN: A huge teen band. I was looked - I was looking at -- they had a huge number of downloads now online now. I mean, they are really taking off.

ROSEN: They're the next Jonas Brothers.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Yes.

BLITZER: You know, Far East Movement, I think they are -- I don't know if they have started yet, but if they have, I would like to hear a little bit.

BOLDUAN: Looks like they're starting up right now.

BLITZER: All right, let's listen a little bit.


BLITZER: All right, Far East Movement. They're moving over there at the Washington convention.

BOLDUAN: They sure are.

BLITZER: I bet you the kids of all of those military personnel, they are so excited to see what is going on.

BOLDUAN: They look so excited.

BLITZER: Hillary, how excited do you think that Sasha and Malia are right now?

ROSEN: Sasha and Malia, you know, in some ways for music fans, the luckiest kids in the world.


BOLDUAN: No kidding.

ROSEN: They not only get the artists of their choice, but get them to show up in their back yard.

BLITZER: All right, let's take another quick break. Well, as we go to the break we'll listen to a little bit more of the Far East Movement.


BLITZER: Looking at live pictures of the U.S. capitol. What a beautiful capitol it is, indeed. We are watching the events over at the kids' inaugural concert that is going on.

Let's talk with our CNN contributors. And joining us right now, the Republican consultant, the newly shaved, Alex Castellanos. Take a look at him, he does not have his mustache.

BOLDUAN: I was wondering if you have ever come back. We are so glad to see you back.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: You know, a lot of empty billboard space here. You look beautiful.

BLITZER: Hillary Rosen is still with us. Van Jones is joining us as well, former White House official in the Obama administration.

Van, four years ago, you were getting ready to work in the White House. Lot of difference this time around.

CAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOSE OFFICIAL: Sure. Sure. I mean, last time it was exhilaration. I mean, just a sense that we could not believe it was happening. Now it's conformation. I think there was a sense that, you know, was this an accident of history. Was he just sort of getting lucky because Bush made mistakes, was it his smile? No, it was for real. We can do this.

And for him now to be going out there, with the Lincoln bible, and the MLK bible, 150 years ago. The emancipation proclamation, without those words, he could not be standing up there, Barack Obama, a black man. And then, Dr. King, without his speech, 50 years ago, he would not be standing there. So the two men, associated with any of these flavoring and ending segregation, 150 years ago, 50 years and he is there with both bibles. It's just a sense of conformation about what a great country we are.

BOLDUAN: Well, despite the conformation and after all of the pomp and circumstances passed Alex, President Obama still needs to work with Congress and the Republican House that he has butted heads with so much, how do you think the president should address that, address the Republicans, address the bitter partisan divide that still exists in Washington in the speech? CASTELLANOS: I was just reading Franklin Roosevelt's second inauguration speech and he was in a similar situation to Barack Obama. The economy was struggling. And he did not give a speech that was designed to say, heal the nation's wounds and bring the nation together. He gave a surprisingly polarizing speech saying we have a ways to go. We have got a -- it's not about more for those who already have much. It's about helping those who have nothing. It was called the one-third of the nation speech, because he pointed out, look, we are not at the promised land, I see a nation that has a long way to go. Are we going to quit now?

And so, I expect actually -- look Barack Obama's main goal is to get a Democratic house in two years. Because unless he does that, he is not going to be able to legislatively accomplished anything that he really wants.

ROSEN: I don't think he can.

CASTELLANOS: And so, if that is -- we are going to see a test of that in this speech and we are going to see a test of that in the first few days of the administration. If the agenda is polarizing, then it tells us he is looking at 2014.

BLITZER: Yes. Hillary, hold your thought for a second because I want to take another quick break.

Van, do not go too far away.

When we come back, a rare look inside a place few people have ever seen before, an historic part of the U.S. capitol, stand by.


BLITZER: Inauguration ceremony is certainly steeped in tradition and we are watching it unfold this weekend. We are about to give you a very rare look at a piece of that history.

Our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is here to show us how U.S. Supreme Court justices actually prepare for the important ceremony.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, obviously, this is the president's big day. But, people may not realize it's one of the few times that all three branches of government come together as one.

And another really interesting piece of history, and tradition, is that the Supreme Court gets together at the Supreme Court which is across the street, and they walk over as a group to the capitol and that begins what will be a few hours of some ritual.


BASH (voice-over): Inside a historic room on the first floor of the capitol, an inauguration day tradition not talked about much.

This room is going to be a very important staging point for an important nine people.

DIANE SKVARLA, SENATE CURATOR: Yes, the Supreme Court will come in here, the justices.

BASH: The Senate curator gave us behind the scene access to this old Supreme Court chamber where the Supreme Court chamber where the Supreme Court met in the 1800s and now the justices use it to get dressed for the inauguration.

SKVARLA: They will change in to their roves here. We have a bath room that they are able to use in order to freshen up. It's a great sense of history and they really enjoy that.

BASH: The history is rich. So these are not replicas? This is the real stuff?

SKVARLA: No, 70 percent is original to the room.

BASH: And for the inauguration of the nation's first black president, it's a room steeped in symbolism and irony.

SKVARLA: This is where the Dread Scott case was decided on.

BASH: The Dread Scott decision of 1857 declared that no slave or slave's descendants could be U.S. citizens. It brought the country to the brink of the civil war.

SKVARLA: These were the desks that were purchased by chief justice Tony (ph) for the court in the 1830s.

Justice Tony (ph), a staunch supporter of slavery wrote the Dread Scott decision and a few years later, administered the oath of office to Abraham Lincoln.

On the very same Lincoln bible, President Obama used at his first inauguration and will again.

This Monday, the current chief justice will prepare to administer is oath and along with his eight colleagues, soak in the memory of the room. And according to curator who accompanies them, the moment.

SKVARLA: So, we will go behind here. This is where the justices can also go on inauguration day. And this is of course the bench. This is our wonderful historic benches. This is the bench.

This is the bench where the justices came and sat. You will see some of the different chairs that they use. It's not used for very many events at all. This is one of the very rare occasions where we have the chief justices come back.


BASH: Now, chief justice John Roberts will administer the oath to the president, and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latino justice, will be doing so for the vice president. You know, so much of this is mandated by the constitution, the day, the time, the actual oath, but the justices administering the oath, that is not. That is just tradition, it just happened for 200 years or so.

BOLDUAN: And you were saying, when we were watching the piece. It's so interesting because you do not often think of all the tradition that is steeped in this and rarely we are going to look where the chamber that you got to look at it.

BASH: And covering Congress, I literally run by these rooms every day and to be able to go inside and really understand the unbelievable history there. It's pretty amazing.

BOLDUAN: It was a great piece. Thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

BLITZER: We love it so much. Thank you, very, very much.