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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

The Presidential Inauguration

Aired January 20, 2013 - 21:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The president of the United States, with the first lady and the vice president, and the second lady, over at the National Building Museum here in Washington. The festivities only just beginning. Getting ready for the big inauguration tomorrow.

Piers Morgan is getting ready to take over our coverage. Great to have you here on the National Mall.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's very exciting. I've never done an inauguration before. Incredibly exciting. I was struck there by the body language and demeanor of the president. He just seems a very relaxed man, which I guess comes from being re-elected and facing another great, historic day. He looks like a man much more at ease with himself perhaps than all the nerves and stuff that came last time.

BLITZER: Four years as president and now another four years and he was re-elected pretty impressively. And I think that brings a sense of self-confidence and you can certainly see that coming through in this president.

MORGAN: And although there won't be the same huge crowds tomorrow perhaps than there were last time, and there won't be the kind of air of expectancy perhaps, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I think if you set the standard for this four years at a more realistic level, he's got more chances of making real achievements.

BLITZER: Four years ago, history was unfolding here in the United States. We elected an African-American for president. A lot of people didn't think we'd see that in our lifetime. We did it four years ago and what may be even more impressive than an African- American -- an elderly man said this to me today, Piers, is that we re-elected him a second -- a second time. He wasn't just a one-shot deal. He did it again and a lot of people are very moved by what's going on in our country right now.

MORGAN: And as -- as with Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton in their second terms, you can see a few green sheets of the economy, if that was to begin to surge, he could have -- as David Axelrod tells me later in the show, have a real chance of really doing some things done.

BLITZER: He's got a huge agenda ahead of him. He's got a lot of opportunities but he's going to have to find a way to work with Republicans not only in the Senate but in the House of Representatives. Let's see if he can do it. It's a huge, huge challenge but the responsibility is enormous, the opportunity is great.

MORGAN: Well, we have to see. You're itching to get to the party, Wolf. Your people behind --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Love those people back there.

MORGAN: Chanting your name.

BLITZER: Did you hear the Grambling University marching band? Did you hear them?

MORGAN: You know why I think they're so excited to see you?

BLITZER: No.

MORGAN: Is your performance in "Skyfall."

BLITZER: Well, you were in "Flight."

MORGAN: Well, that's why I wanted to just mention "Skyfall."

BLITZER: I hate to tell you, I was in the James Bond film. And you were in --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: And really great to me. And really great to me.

BLITZER: Yes, Piers. If you work really hard and play by the rules, some day maybe Daniel Craig and --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Was it Daniel Craig or Denzel Washington who got Oscar nominated?

BLITZER: I don't know but I --

MORGAN: Let me remind you. It was Denzel.

BLITZER: Let me just point --

MORGAN: Do you know who helped him? Me.

BLITZER: Let me just point out. "Skyfall," $1 billion in box office receipts worldwide. $1 billion.

MORGAN: You know what, British. British.

BLITZER: "Skyfall."

MORGAN: Wolf, go partying.

BLITZER: Thank you. MORGAN: See you tomorrow.

BLITZER: Thank you.

MORGAN: The great Wolf Blitzer. I want to be in his presence. Never mind the president.

BLITZER: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: It's a night out, the celebration here in Washington. Very exciting crowds behind me. The star-studded parties continuing to pour out (INAUDIBLE) and of course we'll bring you all the highlights as they happen. But joining me now, a rising Democratic star, San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro, and a man who knows more about the presidency than just about any human being alive, historian, Douglas Brinkley.

That wasn't too big a build-up there, Doug?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No.

MORGAN: Julian, let me start with you, because you gave a sensational performance at the convention. I was there and it put everybody rocking. Barack Obama, of course, did the same thing and then became president. When you watched him tonight, did you feel like I did, you saw a man more at peace with himself perhaps now ready for the challenge of maybe being some real action in the second term?

MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO (D), SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: This is Barack Obama at his best. Relaxed. Speaking in aspirational tones. Uniting the country. This really is a moment of celebration and the fact he's re- electing and must make a difference in this terms of how speaks to the country.

MORGAN: The Latino vote for him has never been more important and the Latino community in America never more important or larger. How significant is that going to be in his second term?

CASTRO: Well, my hope is it's going to be very significant. And I believe that it will be. You know, he has a real connection to the Latino community. And we saw that with over 70 percent of Latinos voting for President Obama and I'm confident that both in terms of the issue agenda, including immigration reform, and also the look of the administration, that that will be reflected.

MORGAN: Doug Brinkley, put this into some kind of historical thing. It's a first time in a very long time you've had three back-to-back presidents holding two terms. Does that bring with it a certain stability to the administration of the United States?

BRINKLEY: I think it does. You know, the media pays a lot of attention on who's replacing Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and the head of Cabinets, but there are also a lot of reports that have been ginned up in agriculture and commerce and interior. And those now are going to be on the president's desk. He could start using executive orders to do new things, a new type of farming procedure, a new national monument. He couldn't do that in the first term.

And also, you know, it really takes a while to adjust living in the White House if you're any family coming here. The president today could watch football, come and be so calm and collected, Zen-like almost tonight, and be really ready for a second term. The media makes a lot out of these curses of the second term but it's a great opportunity.

Obamacare may have been the first-term success but he's got to make it the law of the land and institutionalize it.

MORGAN: But most presidents, though, have been hit by this curse. I mean, Ronald Reagan had the Iran-contra scandal. Bill Clinton had Monica Lewinski. George Bush, Katrina. They all seem to get unsettled and unraveled by a big event, often beyond their control.

Barack Obama, we don't know what it may be. And maybe nothing. But what he does have, the Reagan intention, as I said to Wolf, he has to release a green chute to a better economy. He didn't have that four years ago. Inherited one of the worst financial mess if you could imagine. Is that going to be a significant help to him?

BRINKLEY: You know, but think about second term Dwight Eisenhower. During that term, he dealt with the Little Rock crisis. Got a civil rights credential. He created NASA. He signed a treaty with 12 countries to demilitarize Antarctica. He created ANWR, our great wildlife. All second term.

And, Bill Clinton, what would he have been if he didn't a second term? He wouldn't have had the big budget surplus.

MORGAN: Yes.

BRINKLEY: He would have been outed. And Ronald Reagan, I think Iran- contra is overblown. But his big achievement of his second term was the historic Gorbachev diplomacy that changed the world and allowed Margaret Thatcher to say Reagan won the Cold War without firing a single shot so the president is feeling good about his second term. He doesn't have the luxury of a curse mentality.

MORGAN: And, Julian, what are your priorities? What would you like to see the president really focus on? They say that in the second term you get a maximum of about 18 months to really shove through the agenda that you want to do. What should he be looking to do?

CASTRO: Well, there's all this stuff that's been on the table, you know, that's been talked about in the media, immigration reform. You know, gun control. And a couple of other issues but I'd like to really see him work on the great ideas that he's put forward in terms of linking education with workforce development.

Making the United States more economically competitive in the 21st century global economy by investing in community colleges, by improving our education system and then linking that with the business sector. If he can do that, he can leave four years from now with an America that has a better economy and is much more well positioned for prosperity in the 21st century.

MORGAN: Just wait one moment. We're going to check in with reporters around the town now. Brooke Baldwin is at the Red, White and Blue ball.

Brooke, can you hear me? You're with military leaders and Lynyrd Skynyrd, I hear.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You hear correctly, my friend. And I can barely hear myself speak but I'm so glad you came to me. I don't know if you can hear. I'm a southern girl. I'm in my perfect, perfect place. You know hearing the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. They're playing a very significant song right now. This is "Simple Man." I was talking to these guys backstage none half an hour ago. And they told me, this is the one song that they sing and they sing it at concerts like this all the time.

That is the Hero's Red, White and Blue Ball here in Washington. Because we have heroes in the room. Our men and women in military, many of these guys just in wheelchairs to my right who have made it out here tonight from Walter Reed were recovering or trying to move forward but fought valiantly for our country and so Lynyrd Skynyrd, the guys in the band, were telling me this song, "Simple Man," really resonates because these men and women, they are simple men and women but they do tremendous work. For our country and it's a party.

Piers Morgan, you're missing out.

MORGAN: I can't think of anybody better to be partying tonight than you, Brooke Baldwin. You look absolutely the part in that dazzling outfit.

BALDWIN: Thanks.

MORGAN: So let me move now to another very dapper person, Don Lemon.

Don, where are you?

(LAUGHTER)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm at the hip hop ball. You didn't say I look dazzling but I take dapper from you, Piers Morgan. I'm at the hip hop ball. Right over my shoulder here, and wouldn't you know it, Murphy's Law, a truck would pass by but if you could see that -- those bright lights behind me, that's the red carpet. And let me tell you the folks who are here. A lot of folks from the hip hop community. Pharrel is here.

You're in the music industry. You know that. Pharrel is here. Eva Longoria, she's not in the music industry. She's here. John Legend is here. Brandi is here. Two Chains, the rappers, are here. A bunch of people in here and they're celebrating. Wayne Brady is here. I spoke with Wayne Brady a little bit ago. I also spoke with the actor Charles Guttman, said, you know what, a lot of older people in this country underestimate the music industry, especially the hip hop industry when it comes to the political power that young people have in this country and quite frankly, you know, people think of hip hop, they automatically think of young African- Americans.

But really in this country young, white kids buy most of the hip hop music in this country. And those people have political power and they're saying that, you know, those people are the people who helped to elect the president in this country.

This hip hop ball sponsored by Russell Simmons and so all of those folks are in there now celebrating the political power that the hip hop community had in 2012 and also to -- that they used to help get President Obama elected so big, bold names inside.

Just a few that I named, Piers. And a lot of them you know from being in the music industry. So lots of cache here.

MORGAN: Don, I think you better go because Pharrel Williams wants his hat back. But thanks for joining me.

Suzanne Malveaux is at the Kennedy Center where Smokey Robinson is headlining tonight.

You're a lucky devil, Suzanne. Love Smokey Robinson. Tell us what's going on there.

(LAUGHTER)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I was going to ask you if you like Smokey Robinson. Yes, it was unbelievable, Piers. Because what you had -- I mean, people are lining up since 5:00 in the morning to get inside to get these free tickets for this concert. It was a "Let Freedom Rein" celebration. It was called. He performed about 30 minutes or so.

And the highlight was when he kind of separated the audience. Imagine you have like 2100 folks in the audience, separates them into three groups and has them all singing "My Girl." So the chorus, we have "my girl, my girl, my girl, talking about my girl." The whole group, all together.

(LAUGHTER)

Pretty special moment and finally "America the Beautiful" ended, everybody -- they were just on their feet. It was really kind of a spectacular and very passionate moment.

Then, Piers, you had another event as well that was taking place at the same time. Really a celebration if you will, the Latino community, some really heavy hitters who came out to perform, to celebrate the fact that they have so much power when it comes to voting, that they did, in fact, participate in the election in record numbers, raising money, coming out, supporting the President Barack Obama.

I had a chance to talk to Eva Longoria on the red carpet who says, look, this is her passion. I mean this is their moment. They feel very empowered. And one of the highlights of the program itself, this was a special moment. This was Chito Rivera and Rita Moreno coming out at the same time singing together. They have never done that at any occasion in their careers so you have these two greats, singing, "Hello Dolly" and "Old Friends."

And the surprise guest, of course, Piers, was the vice president. We knew he was coming. Many of the people who were there, who participated, he was not on the program, they did not know. He stood up. He talked a little bit and made a little bit of a joke about 2016. A lot of folks wondering if he's going to run in 2016. His son Beau Biden, he was here. He said there were about 50 of the family members who were here. Certainly there were a lot of people in that audience, Piers, who thought perhaps he was certainly making a play for the next four years -- Piers.

MORGAN: I bet. I'm just surprised the president himself wasn't there to sing a bit of Al Green with Smokey Robinson. But you can't have everything, I guess.

Suzanne, thank you very much.

Coming up, a rare appearance, my exclusive interview with three people who know President Obama better than almost just anybody else. His inner circle and they've never, ever sat down together to give a joint interview until now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Now it's been a historic weekend. Live pictures there of a dazzling scene in Washington, D.C. And I've got a bit of history, too, for you. This exclusive interview with three people who helped President Obama win his second term, three of his very closest advisers. Former senior adviser David Axelrod, Jim Messina, campaign manager for Obama 2012, and Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for Obama 2012.

They've have never ever sat down together for a joint interview on television until now. Enjoy this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Now welcome to you all. David Axelrod, Jay Messina and Stephanie Cutter. This is a rare political event. A piece of history. The three of you have never given a joint television interview.

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: I think you should go right to the Smithsonian as long as we're in Washington.

(LAUGHTER)

Put it right in the vault there. MORGAN: It's a big day for the president. For America. But also, I think, for you three because you've been so instrumental really in getting Barack Obama to where he is. He's now got the luxury of a second term. What does that bring him?

Let's start with you, David. What would you love to see his legacy end up being after four more years?

AXELROD: Well, I think ultimately the legacy that he's after, the legacy that we're all working for is to revitalize this economy and the country in such a way that the -- there's new vitality that American compact that say s if you work hard you can get ahead. You know, You can count on your kids doing better than you. This is sort of fundamental to our country. That's been under assault for a long time.

And he ran in 2008 to try and rectify that. We went through a big crisis. Now we've got a little momentum. We've got to build on that. But we have to build the structure for a future economy in which the middle class can thrive and people can work their way up.

MORGAN: Jim, what people say to me about the president, just people on the street and wondering around Washington, I think he's a lot of goodwill for him. I think the general feeling is he's done an OK job but he hasn't been great. He won't go down yet as a great president because people aren't sure what his overall vision is. And if he does have one, it doesn't seem positive enough. That it's been perhaps a little too negative in the first four years. The reasons are understandable. How can he change that mindset?

JIM MESSINA, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, OBAMA 2012: Look. I think he has been incredibly positive. I think he's laid out a clear and compelling vision where he wants to take this country. He's gotten more done. I put up his legislative record against anyone's, health care which is, you know, took 100 years, Wall Street reform was 70 years.

You know, David talked about the fundamentally, you know, restructuring our economy to make sure, you know, our kids, that they will do better than us. It's the way it's been for a very long time. And the president is doing those things every single day. He's bringing people together across parties and I think that's what you're going to hear him talk about today.

MORGAN: Stephanie, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both had much more prosperous terms. They were hit by other things, Monica Lewinski and Iran-contra deals and so on. But they were -- I think the beneficiaries of a surging economy. The president may be in the same position. We don't know he is but early to say that he might be.

Will that embolden him to perhaps release any self-imposed shackles he may have had to really go for it? And how long does he get to do that?

STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, OBAMA 2012: Well, I think that he doesn't have any self-imposed shackles. I think he has been slowly putting the building blocks in place to build a type of an economy that we've all been working hard for where everybody can get ahead, where the middle class thrives, where we're building it from the middle out and not the top down. We inherited a crisis. We've talked a lot about that.

(LAUGHTER)

For the past four years. Including on the campaign trail.

MORGAN: Can now have a guarantee you can't mention it again?

(LAUGHTER)

Do we -- we get to this point, well, are we all agreed --

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: No, before we do --

MORGAN: We can't blame Republicans for what happened four years ago.

AXELROD: Before we agree on anything, let me just say. What I find striking about this whole weekend has been my recollections of four years ago. Four years ago I was about to attend the White House with the president, our economy was in absolute shambles.

MORGAN: That is true.

AXELROD: And I watched him when -- you know, I watched him make a series of decisions very quickly to stand up the financial industry, the recovery act, to intervene on the auto industry. Not any one of them was popular. But he knew it was what we had to do to right the country and so it is worth noting how far we have come. We are in a different place than we were four years ago.

MORGAN: But in the run-up to the last election, of course, he hadn't made any mistakes, I understood, I've interviewed all of you, there's always -- I don't know what you're talking about, Piers.

Now you won that second term. Now you can be perhaps a little bit more honest about the perhaps here is he could have gone further but didn't know or where he personally regrets not going further. What would you say they would be for him?

CUTTER: Well, you know, I'm going to point to his own words. He said this. He believes he could have done a better job communicating with the American people. You know, we've been talking a little bit about what we were dealing with four years ago when the president was taking the oath of office. You know, the financial crisis, the economic crisis. Building a new administration.

You know, we had our hands full and I think that trying to get all of that done and take the emergency steps that we had to take to take the steps that we needed to shore up our banks, some things were lost in there, including communicating with the American people about why we were taking the steps that we were taking or getting their feedback about which direction we should be going in. Ultimately, you know, we believe that we have put good reforms in place to make sure we never have another financial crisis, the building blocks of a good economy. But the president believes that he could have had a better job having that conversation with the American people.

MORGAN: I mean, Jim, the other thing he's known as one of the world's great communicators.

MESSINA: Right.

MORGAN: And yet a lot of the criticisms against this president involves communication, just as certainly with the public but also with the Republican Party.

MESSINA: Look, I think you've seen the president repeatedly reach out. I mean, it takes two to dance here. And I think one of the things Stephanie was talking about that we learned in the first four years is we need to take this conversation outside of Washington.

CUTTER: And let's remember, when we took office four years ago there's a famous quote from Mitch McConnell, that his number one priority was to make this president a one-term president. Now that that hasn't happened, and we're starting -- beginning the second term, maybe we can actually get something done.

MORGAN: I mean, by the way, on that, I mean, isn't it the number one priority of the opposition to always make the other guy a one-term --

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: You know, well --

CUTTER: Not for the sake of --

AXELROD: You know, Piers, the night of the inauguration, in 2009, 15 Republican leaders in the Congress got together for the expressed purpose of deciding how they could thwart the presidency. We were in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and two wars. America needed cooperation and instead what we got was a policy of opposition on everything.

The thing that was disturbing about what McConnell said at -- in 2010 was we decided from the beginning we were not going to give him cooperation on any major issue because if we did it would signify to the American people that he's figured it out, and we didn't want to give them that.

Well, you know, there are things that actually bigger than those kinds of partisan victories when your country is in the midst of a great challenge. You don't take an oath of office to your party. You take it to the country. And so, we hope that, you know, as we sit here today, the Republican party has had historic lows in their ratings. The Congress is at historic lows in their ratings and they just had a retreat this week. And they decided to retreat which was good. But I think they're recognizing their reality which is, what they have done for the last four years has been very destructive. Not just to the country but to their own party.

MORGAN: What you'll see --

AXELROD: And hopefully we'll get a different attitude.

MORGAN: Right. I mean, what are the other priorities, do you think, in a second term? I mean, I was putting down on paper earlier. Look, economy, obviously. You might have climate change.

CUTTER: Right.

MORGAN: The foreign policy, the restructuring, if you like, of America's place in the world, I think taking on where Barack Obama has taken it so far. Very interesting. Perhaps, you know, leading from the back as he said in certain cases rather than the front.

I'm actually in favor of that. I think the days of America having to be the global policeman should be over. What else do you see as priorities?

MESSINA: Immigration reform. Something the president feels strongly about, and will tackle this year. Everyone out there understands our system is broken. And we need some fundamental restructuring of our immigration system. It's the right thing to do.

There's commonsense agreement out in the states on how to do it. And people should put politics aside. As I think you'll see the president in the second term work passionately across party lines on education to make the K-12 system the best in the world like our university system is.

But you hit the biggest one, that's the economy. We've got to continue to take the steps to --

MORGAN: Does everything flow from the economy in the end?

(CROSSTALK)

CUTTER: It's also -- yes.

MESSINA: Absolutely.

MORGAN: As a government --

AXELROD: Jim talks about education, it is axiomatic that if we're going to be competitive in the world, and people are going to have their best chance, we've got to do a better job on education. We've got to control our energy in the future and we've got to develop new sources of energy. That's axiomatic. We've got to invest in research and development and stay on the cutting edge of innovation. All these things are -- an integral part of developing the kind of economy in which people have their best shot. MORGAN: I have never seen the president quite as emotionally moved as I saw him after Sandy Hook and this has been an issue that we've carried a lot on my show, but when I saw what he said the other day and the proposals he put forward, by the executive order and the ones he wanted to do with Congress, I was so impressed by the boldness and the courage of the leadership and then there was the reality check.

Within minutes, people popping up on both sides saying, well, of course, he can't get through an assault weapons ban.

CUTTER: We'll see.

MORGAN: And today for -- well, today a young teenage boy killed five people with an assault weapon. The weekend, we had people injured at gun shows with guns. I mean, the irony not lost on anybody on Gun Appreciation Day.

America is a country riddled with gun violence. Do you think the president has the political clout and the personal drive to try and pursue an assault weapons ban if it looks like he can't?

CUTTER: Well, I think he's already made that clear. He is going to pursue it and --

MORGAN: Can he succeed?

CUTTER: Well, you know, let's see. And I think integral to succeeding here in Washington is building the American people's voice from the outside. We announced a couple of days ago a new organization called Organizing for Action and that is the Obama for America community grassroots organizers all across the country who wanted to come together to continue working for change.

They are going to be critical in this effort in getting key pieces of the agenda done. Things that people voted on in this election. And we -- you know, there is a -- there is a cry out there for some movement on gun control because the senseless violence, I think, is touching everybody.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: What I find -- what I find so baffling is the apparent power that the NRA wields, for example, in the political system in America. Compared to the amount of money they put in and the amount of membership they have, I don't really understand why they have such power or why so many politicians at senior level are so frightened of them.

AXELROD: Well, look. Jim comes from a -- from a state where guns are a huge issue. The truth is that it has been part of the American culture and tradition for a long time. Particularly in rural areas. Hunting, gun ownership, parents passing the tradition of hunting down to children.

MORGAN: Yes. AXELROD: That's been part of our -- of our culture. On the other hand, we have in some of our communities real problems with violence and in Chicago where I come from, we've had a terrible time with youth violence and gun violence. And we have to find a way to reconcile those things.

But one thing that gives me hope is that I see 90 percent -- 85, 90 percent of Americans said yes, we should have universal background checks of anyone who buys a gun. That would be an enormous step forward. And frank, I don't think even the NRA can defeat that because I think there's such a consensus among the American people for that. Sixty-five percent of Americans think we ought to limit the size of these magazines to a reasonable number of rounds so that we don't have situations where people can open fire on a crowd and not have to reload. So they can't be subdued.

So there are measures that have enormous support among the public. I think that there's an opportunity now to do something that didn't exist before but I am mindful of the fact that, you know, the NRA may speak in some ways for a more of a fringe when it comes to this notion of people being armed in case, you know, an overweaning government comes to get them and so on. You hear some of that. But I think the vast majority of gun owners understand that there are reasonable steps that we need to take.

MORGAN: I agree with you. I think the voice is just not being heard firmly.

Well, it will be a big day tomorrow. It's been a big days, two-day extravaganza. But thank you all for joining me. It's a very rare encounter of all three on television. I think a great insight into what President Obama has achieved and may achieve (INAUDIBLE). So thank you all very much.

MESSINA: Thank you.

AXELROD: Thanks, Piers. Good to be with you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: A little piece of senior aid history there.

Coming next, Maya Angelou, why she never believed she'd see an African-American president in her lifetime and keep quickly here for a historical perspective of what may come up tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Maya Angelou provided one of the most memorable inaugural moments when she read one of her poems at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration. She's also awarded a Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000 and a Lincoln Medal in 2008. She joins me now along with presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.

Welcome to you, Doctor Angelou. How are you?

MAYA ANGELOU, POET, AUTHOR, ACTIVIST: I'm splendid, thank you. And you?

MORGAN: I'm extremely honored to be talking to you, actually. And I mean that very sincerely. I want to remind you of an e-mail that you sent out. This is on behalf of the president when you talked about conversations you had with Dr. Martin Luther King, and of course tomorrow is MLK Day. It couldn't be a more appropriate day. I'm sure you would feel for Barack Obama's second inauguration.

But in those conversations with Martin Luther King, he felt there may be an African-American president, the first black president in the next 40 years. You didn't think it would happen in your lifetime.

ANGELOU: It's -- that's true. I'm so -- I'm so excited. And so happy about my country. That we are growing up.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: And how do you think the president has done in his four years? And --

ANGELOU: We are moving beyond ignorance.

MORGAN: Right. How do you think he'd been doing, President Obama?

ANGELOU: Sorry?

MORGAN: And how do you think he's done, President Obama, in his first term and what would you like him to do more of in his second term?

ANGELOU: Well, I think he's done the best he could. I think that there were number of people who as soon as he was elected put their feet down in -- their heels into the -- into the earth and said, no matter what he does, no matter how good he is, I will not support him. I will resist his attempts to make our country better. I think that he was -- I think he was surprised, actually, because we had come -- he had been elected with such fervor and such excitement. I don't think he was expected to have such resistance.

I know this. From what I've seen so far. He's intelligent. And that's what we need in our country. We need intelligent people, intelligent beyond the ignorance of racism and sexism and ageism and all those stupidities. And so I think that this time when he comes in, he's coming in with more pizzazz. More excitement. And his -- and he, too, he brings in some -- I mean, resistance to the resistance which he's encountered. So I think we're in for four years of true excitement and I'm looking forward to it.

MORGAN: What do you think Martin Luther King may have said to Barack Obama if he was still alive now? What advice do you think he would have given the president for his second and final term of office?

ANGELOU: Thank you. Thank you for that question. I think Dr. King would have said, continue. Be loving and be strong. Be fierce and be kind. And don't give -- don't give in and don't give up. Continue to press because we've got to make this country more than what James Bolden used to call it. These yet to be United States. We have got to do it. And so we need leadership which will say, I want to make it better. I will fight to make it better. I will encourage us all to be more courageous.

It's the most important of all the virtues because without it you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can't be -- kind or generous or anything consistently without courage. And so I think Reverend King, who showed so much courage himself, courage to be kind, courage to be generous. He -- he showed the courage to be not violent. Nonviolent. In a violent society. So I think he would encourage President -- Obama to be courageous. I think so.

MORGAN: That was -- that's a beautiful answer, Dr. Angelou, if you don't mind me saying. It's been a great pleasure for me to talk to you tonight. I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk to me.

ANGELOU: I thank you so much. I've been wanting to talk to you since you talked to Oprah. I have wanted to meet you. You are brilliant. You are fine.

MORGAN: Thank you.

ANGELOU: And you, too, have courage and insight because you are insightful enough to see that she was intelligent and you are courageous enough to say you knew it.

MORGAN: Well, that's incredibly kind of you. Thank you so much.

ANGELOU: Thank you.

MORGAN: Very nice to talk to you.

Dr. Maya Angelou. What a wonderful lady.

We've got some live pictures here of one of the parties tonight. The Green Ball. You can probably tell that because it's green everywhere. And there's Vice President Joe Biden partying hard tonight in Washington.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: I apologize.

MORGAN: Not sure what he's doing. Let's take a little listen.

BIDEN: I apologize, ma'am. I'm going to be very brief. I came to say thank you. I say a big thank you. I also came to tell you what my green wish is.

MORGAN: We've got to take a little break and come back and see if the VP may start drifting into a bit of Al Green or something. Show Barack Obama what he's made of. We'll be back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: That's Washington's big weekend. A chance for A-listers to mix with everybody who's anybody in the world of politics, entertainment, you name it. They're here. Parties both official and unofficial erupting all over town tonight and joining me now is the ultimate party boy himself, my old buddy from "America's Got Talent," Nick Cannon who has an event with the first lady last night, and we'll come to that in a moment.

Nick, good to see you.

NICK CANNON, ACTOR AND HOST OF AMERICA'S GOT TALENT: Good to see you, too, sir.

MORGAN: A quick word, though, with the great historian Doug Brinkley about Dr. Maya Angelou there. What a remarkable woman she is. What did you make of what she said and in particular about what Martin Luther King may have said to Barack Obama?

BRINKLEY: Well, just -- I thought it was very moving and you got a nice call-out there from her.

MORGAN: Right.

BRINKLEY: She's a great moral force like Elie Weitzel who the president admires so much. He wrote "Night" and a holocaust survivor. And years from now there'll be a hundred books about Maya Angelou and her poetry. But before there was Oprah Winfrey, who she mentioned in that interview.

MORGAN: Yes.

BRINKLEY: There was Maya Angelou.

MORGAN: Yes. Yes.

BRINKLEY: Any student or anybody who's gone to her lectures has been inspired by her for years. I also want to say I'm glad you wore a coat. Because he's out there -- he's pulling it off.

CANNON: I know.

MORGAN: If I may point out, if I may out all the Americans wearing the big Willie (ph) coats. Us British guys made of tougher stuff.

CANNON: That's all that chest hair. That's what that is.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Actually all the extra blubber which that keep you warm.

Nick Cannon, how are you?

CANNON: I'm great, man. It's good to see you.

MORGAN: Very -- you got a big night last night.

CANNON: Yes.

MORGAN: With the first lady, partying away.

CANNON: Yes. It was outstanding.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: It was great fun.

CANNON: Yes, we had so much fun. I mean, obviously, to get an invitation to host any event from the first lady is something that just amazing but this was focusing on the families and the kids for the men and women in service. So it was outstanding event.

MORGAN: Tomorrow, the president's second inauguration, you were obviously deejaying at the first one. It's an honor for you.

CANNON: Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: But on a serious point, Martin Luther King Day tomorrow, and Barack Obama being re-inaugurated. For you as a young black American, what does it mean to you, that day, the significance of both these great men being commemorated on this day?

CANNON: I mean, it's outstanding. It truly is history to be a part of not only the celebration of the birth of Martin Luther King, but at the same time our president's second inauguration. So I mean, it's just -- it's one of those things where it's fitting right on the perfect day at a perfect time for an event like this.

MORGAN: A lot of talk at the moment about the American dream and how you get it back. You're a great example of a young lad who worked hard to get where he is.

CANNON: Right.

MORGAN: And deserves the success.

CANNON: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: What should the president be doing, though, to get more people like you to get up there and live the dream again?

CANNON: I mean, the millennial generation really is a generation of young people who want to do better and all about empowerment. So just to see President Obama in office is inspiring enough but then at the same time he's always focusing on education and obviously we know education can really be that thing to spark any dream and any goal.

MORGAN: We both worked on talent show.

CANNON: Yes.

MORGAN: I'm going to ask you the big talent question.

CANNON: Uh-oh.

MORGAN: What do you make of Michelle Obama's bangs?

(LAUGHTER) CANNON: What does that have to do with talent, Piers?

MORGAN: I think it's talent. Hair is a talent. As you can see. You don't have it. I do.

CANNON: I don't know what's going on up there with yours, but I love Michelle Obama's bangs. I actually had the opportunity to tell her I loved the new hairstyle so it looks outstanding and it's good. You know, for the second term, a new look. You need to get a new look.

(LAUGHTER)

Quickly.

MORGAN: And I can't let you go without asking you about your wife Mariah who's on "American Idol."

CANNON: Stop asking about my wife, Piers.

MORGAN: Is she as attractive as last time I saw her?

CANNON: She's just as beautiful.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: B, how does she enjoy being a talent show judge? Because it's not easy.

CANNON: She actually is enjoying it quite well. I mean, amidst of all the drama and everything, that aside, she's having a great time inspiring young people and, you know, helping that next generation, you know, reach levels hopefully that she's had the opportunity to reach in her career.

MORGAN: Good to see you, my man.

CANNON: Good to see you, too, man.

MORGAN: Take care. I know you're missing me. But try and hold it back.

CANNON: I can't take it no more, Piers. Come back soon.

MORGAN: Shame you all, but don't you (INAUDIBLE) because without that, you would have been --

CANNON: You can never pull this off.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Nick Cannon, he never could wear a tie properly.

We'll be back with final thoughts on this historic day and a preview of tomorrow's second inauguration with Doug Brinkley, the great presidential historian.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back live in Washington, D.C. where it's all getting very, very exciting here. And I'm with presidential historian Doug Brinkley who's back with me.

Doug, you can't help but get caught up in this. It is very exciting. It's also very historic. Tomorrow, talk me through what's actually going to happen?

BRINKLEY: Well, I've got to tell you, in 1840, William Henry Harrison got elected and the inaugural in '41 and did not wear a coat. In a month he died of pneumonia.

(LAUGHTER)

So get a coat for tomorrow, Piers.

MORGAN: OK. OK. I get you. I get you.

BRINKLEY: No, I think the big thing tomorrow is it's not just Barack Obama's day, but it's Martin Luther King Day.

MORGAN: Yes.

BRINKLEY: And you're going to have I think the president invoking the dream of King. That the dream is still alive. All the school kids are out in America, they're being taught in elementary schools about the inauguration right now and Martin Luther King Day simultaneously.

MORGAN: He's also got a bible which was used by Abraham Lincoln and I went to see "Lincoln" the movie recently and the story of his courage and his battle to end slavery in America is an incredibly inspiring story. And you couldn't help but think if you're Barack Obama standing there, you got two bibles, one was Dr. King's, one was Abraham Lincoln's, you've got the hand of history on your shoulder to really, I think, show real courage and go for it in a second term.

BRINKLEY: I couldn't agree with that more. And this president just loves Abraham Lincoln. I mean, in Chicago there are some Lincoln bookshop that only sells books on Lincoln. So if you're a politician from Illinois, you're from the land of Lincoln, you like him. But this president really is a scholar of Abraham Lincoln. He likes talking about him. And this being the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, what that meant for our country, which is invoked in that movie "Lincoln." It's going to be -- one is looking for him to rip off the Lincoln second inaugural tomorrow.

MORGAN: How is he going to get through the impasse of Washington, the paralysis of getting stuff done here? The antipathy from the Republicans? How can he do what he wants to do perhaps with, you know, Dr. King and Abraham Lincoln in the back of his mind? How can he force through his agenda in a smart way?

BRINKLEY: Well, remember, like Dr. King, he's won a Nobel Peace Prize, he's an international figure and the world is going to be watching tomorrow. But he's only -- he's going to have to do something quickly. By March you're going to have the fiscal debate. It's going to be mayhem. I think he's got to push gun control very quickly. And then he's going to have to deal with an explosive international situation that's going on now in North Africa, Syria, Iran. So there's not a moment that he can rest.

But he at least doesn't have to transition to Washington, D.C.

MORGAN: Yes.

BRINKLEY: This has been his home for four years and it's going to be home for four more.

MORGAN: We get the feeling that the Americans perhaps slight realized that continuing to be at war with the president isn't necessarily in the national interest?

BRINKLEY: Yet to be seen because of the way the money, I think. It's in politics now. I mean, at this juncture, there are a lot of Republicans in Congress that aren't just not here for the inaugural, but they don't want to be in a photo-op with the President Obama.

We're celebrating him, Piers, this -- you know, Sunday and Monday. But there are many people that aren't that happy with him. What Barack Obama has going for him, we used to say, I like Ike. People say, I like Barack Obama. His public approval ratings for himself are very high and he's over 50 percent for the job performance, but that's going to have to improve. And it's all about the economy in the end. People are going to judge him, he inherited the October crash and how does it look eight years later.

MORGAN: Because it's come to a point in the second where you can't keep blaming the people before you.

BRINKLEY: Right. No more. No more. No more blame to go and you can't blame the media. You can't blame the Republicans. But you can use executive orders.

MORGAN: Yes.

BRINKLEY: And have the threat of executive order to Congress even if you don't use them.

MORGAN: Doug Brinkley, thank you so much.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

MORGAN: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Welcome back. That's all for us tonight. But tomorrow is the big day. The floats, the parades, then the inauguration ball. All the (INAUDIBLE) affair. We'll be all right here live on CNN at President Barack Obama inaugurating for his second term. I can't wait. I'm (INAUDIBLE). That's it for us tonight. Now Anderson Cooper.