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Presidential Inauguration Coverage; Inauguration Events Underway

Aired January 20, 2013 - 19:00   ET


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The 34-word oath is written into the Constitution but the fact that the Supreme Court justices, the Chief Justice in particular, swears them in, that is simply tradition. It's just something that has happened for a couple centuries now.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tradition is important in this old town.

BURNETT: Yes -- you know I was learning that the parade started with George Washington when local militia sort of joined up as he was coming in April to New York in April 1789. So --

J. KING: Old traditions meet some new traditions.

BURNETT: It happens, yes it's a sad one every time.

Welcome to CNN's continuing coverage of inauguration weekend. I'm Erin Burnett.

J. KING: And I'm John King.

We're live tonight in the nation's capital on the National Mall for President Obama's second inauguration. There's plenty of excitement and you can see some of it right there and a lot going on in the capital city. CNN of course is going to bring you all the big events and all of the highlights.

President Barack Obama's second term is officially under way for seven hours now. He took the oath of office at noon today, January 20th, as required by the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Obama sworn in and you see him there in the Blue Room of the White House, a small ceremony using a bible that belonged to his wife's family. Chief Justice John Roberts used a note card this time avoiding, you might remember, the verbal stumble of four years ago.

The President, of course, will do it tomorrow in public in the traditional setting outside the capitol right there using the same Lincoln bible he used four years ago and a bible that belonged to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country, some from around the world, will be right here in the nation's capital to witness history. Earlier today at the Vice President's official residence, Joe Biden was sworn into office for a second term.

Doing the honors there, Justice Sonia Sotomayor making her the first Latina to administer an oath to a President or Vice President and at this hour across the nation's capital, parties and events kicking off, including the red and white and blue ball, the hip-hop ball and the let Freedom Ring Concert and what I call behind us the Erin Burnett ball on the National Mall.

BURNETT: It's a John King ball here. And we've got people here who are out having a good time and really enjoying all of the things that come with this, including the media.

All right as we look ahead to tomorrow's big event so a lot of us are wondering what the President is going to say in his inaugural speech. Obviously, so much is weighing on it. And if anything, even more important than the first time around because he has, as John has pointed out, a small window to make a big difference for whatever legacy he wants to leave.

So, Dan, what do you know about this speech. Dan is it done at this point or he's still working on it?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're told that the President putting sort of the last points on that speech and will be making some tweaks before he actually rolls it out tomorrow. We're told by advisors here at the White House that this will not be a chance for him to lay out policies but rather will be having or delivering a hopeful speech, making the admission that clearly you can't settle every debate here in Washington, but that you have to look for areas of common ground.

The President will talk about some of the challenges that he will be facing over the next four years, certainly some of those key domestic issues that the President will be tackling, like immigration reform, gun control is another one and finally the President hoping to get some public support to push his agenda through Congress -- plans to engage the public to put pressure on members of Congress.

This is being viewed as sort of act one, where the President makes broad themes. Act two is between the President will release more details during his state of the union address next month.

BURNETT: Dan, I'm curious, I know that some people think the President would be wanting to watch football tonight, but if he is, it's going to be on DVR. What is he doing tonight?

LOTHIAN: That's right. You know I did ask if the President was watching football -- did not get an answer on that. We know he's a big sports fan, so if he's not watching it, he's probably getting some of the updates, but the President and Vice President heading over to the Building Museum later tonight. They will be attending a candlelight reception. The President will be making some remarks and obviously at some point we think he probably continues to work on his speech.

And I should point out, tomorrow morning the President we're told by some White House aides will continue on the usual schedule that he has, getting up early in the morning, heading to his gym here at the White House, working out. Will be having breakfast with his family, also meeting with his advisors for the daily briefing and then head to church before heading to the Capitol for that big ceremony where hundreds of thousands of people will be watching.

BURNETT: Thanks very much, Dan Lothian, from the White House.

J. KING: Look at Dan. See the night time shot of the White House behind him.


J. KING: We've got the night time shot of the Capitol.


BURNETT: It is beautiful.

J. KING: No matter how -- you know I have been here a long time now, eight and a half years covering the White House. If you're ever in D.C., go at night time. Go to the White House, go to the monuments. It is just a spectacular town, all the more so because we're celebrating the inauguration this week. And then you might say they've sent in the cavalry -- thousands of police officers from all around the country right here in Washington. They'll help bolster security for the President's inauguration.

Our Joe Johns is on top of this. He was at the swearing in tonight. Now Joe is this standard operating procedure or are there some extra concerns about security here?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: No -- no extra (AUDIO GAP) concerns about security. We're told there have been no credible threats, no advisories. This is pretty much standard operating procedure. And you know the funny thing is no matter what state you are from in the United States, it's very likely that some police officers from where you live happen to be here today. We saw them between 2,100 - 2,500 police officers from around the country being sworn in.

They're actually sworn in as United States Deputy Marshals. They were sworn in by the United States Marshal for the District of Columbia. They have police powers. They can make arrests. They got their marching orders today. Many of those orders we weren't able to listen to. However, some of them were no drinking, no smoking, no eating on the job, of course, and no looking at the motorcade, believe it or not. They're supposed to be doing security and they're supposed to be watching the crowd.

I talked to the police chief here who is one of the people in charge of this rodeo, if you will, Cathy Lanier. This is her second inauguration. She told me they're good to go as far as she's concerned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHIEF CATHY LANIER, D.C. POLICE: We are ready. We can do this in our sleep at this point. We have rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed enough. I think we're ready to go. Things are very quiet and I feel very comfortable with the team that we put together this year and the planning they have done.


JOHNS: So it's pretty relaxed here right now, but around 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time it's all going to harden up, as they say. We're going to see this whole place become locked down and it will remain that way, of course, until after the inauguration.

J. KING: And --

BURNETT: It's so easy to get around Washington right now anyway.

J. KING: Yes.

JOHNS: Well we had added problems, too. We had the Martin Luther King Day event was right out here. Traffic was just a nightmare and we hadn't even gotten to the inauguration.

J. KING: Not just all these officers being sworn in but there are cameras everywhere.


JOHNS: Absolutely.

J. KING: You are -- you are being watched no matter where you are in the nation's capital.

BURNETT: Big brother is watching you.

J. KING: You are being watched. Yes, you can bet on that. You can bet on that. Joe, thank you very much.

BURNETT: All right.

Tomorrow, of course, is the President's big day, but when all the fun and excitement is over, it is back to work and back to work is a pretty nasty thing in Washington these days, a divided Congress. So what do Republicans need to hear? (AUDIO GAP) That's next.


BURNETT: Well, for many around the country, it's a long weekend and the President did have to share the spotlight today with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Just before the President's formal swearing in this morning, he and the first family together attended a church service which celebrated King and his legacy. And tomorrow's public swearing in, of course, coincides with the national holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader. Now, when the President takes the oath of office, he's going to actually use a bible that belonged to Dr. King. Well, the President and Vice President Joe Biden honored the nation's fallen soldiers today as well during a wreath-laying ceremony that was at Arlington National Cemetery. It's a tradition on inauguration day and it took place shortly after the Vice President was sworn in this morning -- John.

J. KING: This is the President's day and the President's moment in the spotlight but when the ceremony is done the parade is over, all the parties, Mr. Obama still will have to deal with the Republican-led House of Representatives, divided government in Washington.

Chairman Peter King of New York, the Congressman with the best last name in Congress, is with us this evening.

Mr. Chairman, it's good to see you. As a Republican and a member of a Republican caucus that has had its own internal fights in recent days --


J. KING: -- what can the President do? He's a Democrat. You know the partisanship as well as I do; what can he do to hit a reset button?

P. KING: You know the partisanship is there. And let me just say from the President's perspective, I think he should not be as -- I don't know if arrogant is the right word. He won the election. I give him credit for that, he won it, he won it fair and square, no doubt about that. But I think there's been a tone of almost like an imperious tone the last few times.

I'm not saying it will guarantee results that if he's more -- you know if here's more outreach and Republicans respond. I think he should try it. Because even the Independent voters have told me over the last several weeks they thought the news conference last week was -- had too much arrogance to it and to some of his tone.

Having said that, listen, he had some scars from the last four years. I guess he wants to get a little revenge. But I think if he wants to make progress, he should try at least you know he try everything.

J. KING: So give him some advice. Health care was first the big first initiative last time out of the box or the stimulus program and health care, issues on which the Republicans wanted no part of what the President wanted. And a lot of Republicans and Democrats say this unfair or it's an excuse. The Republicans say it poisoned the waters, made it's hard to cooperate.

When you look at the agenda now, there's the economy, there is the deficit, gun control, immigration. What should the President do first to show Republicans he's not looking for revenge or looking to pick fights?

P. KING: I would say the budget. I mean, to show, to make an honest attempt on both sides to try to reduce spending or reduce the growth in spending. That to me is the one place where there is enough on the table that both sides can make progress if they want to.

You get into gun control and I basically support the President's program, but he's not going to get very much support at all among Republicans for that. And that's a good political point for him, but I don't see it going anywhere.

As far as the illegal immigration or making it legal or whatever, reform, I would say there's an opportunity. I mean, people like Marco Rubio for instance and others and also you have the chamber of commerce, so you do have some Republican vested interest who do want to see immigration reform.

I would say the budget and immigration are the two areas, well spending and immigration.

BURNETT: Can he get through some simple things on gun control, if not a ban on assault weapons? That might be impossible with Republican caucus, but universal background checks? Some smaller things that polls show most Republicans around the country support.

P. KING: Yes, maybe. I don't know. I would support it.


P. KING: I can't speak for the others. I would think there is a chance that maybe on gun trafficking some things and it may be watered down somewhat, but he could at least make some progress. There could be a bill signing and you get people together and that could make it better for the next year and a half after that.

BURNETT: And now I just want to ask you something I know that seems unrelated but it is very important for the President on foreign policy but it's on what's happening now in North Africa. We had Benghazi and then we had Algeria and now we have what's going on in northern Mali with the French.

P. KING: Yes.

BURNETT: Does he need to do more with North Africa?

P. KING: Yes, I think the mistake the President made was giving the appearance that the war against al Qaeda was over or al Qaeda's war against us was over. The fact is these offshoots whether it's AQIM, AQAP right now it's basically al Qaeda in the Maghreb, in North Africa, Libya, Mali and Algeria and that is a real threat. I think the President should do more. He should focus on it more and make it clear to the American people because we may have to take some sort of action.

I'm not trying to suggest anything. The American people won't know what's happening because the President is not talking about it. I think he has to lay the groundwork that we have a real serious situation that in many ways al Qaeda is stronger than it was ten years ago. Now it's metastasized and morphed.

J. KING: Actually a quick one in closing, you're the chairman of the Homeland Security --

P. KING: Actually I'm not anymore.

J. KING: Not anymore.

P. KING: No, I'm term limited out.

J. KING: No you're term limited out but still on the committee.

P. KING: Yes.

J. KING: Anything have you heard before the first Obama inaugural there was a lot of chatter, a lot of threats. It seems pretty quiet. Security officials I've talked to say they feel much more confident this time. Have you heard anything that concerns you?

P. KING: No for all I know (AUDIO GAP) -- as far as I know everything is clear.

J. KING: Amen for that. We hope that continues through.

BURNETT: Right. Thank you very much sir.

P. KING: Thank you Erin, thanks, John.

J. KING: Thank you, sir.

P. KING: Good last name.

J. KING: It's a great last name.

Can a divided country come together in President Obama's second term? That's ahead as we continue our special coverage of this inauguration weekend.

BURNETT: All right, the only thing better (AUDIO GAP)


KING: Is there such a thing -- is there a second term curse? Gloria Borger is back with us along with a couple guys who saw their presidents sworn in for, yes, two terms. Paul Begala, advisor of course to President Bill Clinton and Ari Fleischer who was President George W. Bush press secretary.

Let's talk about second terms. Paul, let's start with you first. Your president came before his so we'll go in order her and Gloria can interrupt at any moment --


KING: Look, your president, Bill Clinton, had a great economy and then the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment came along. And his agenda for the most went off the tracks.

Ari, your president, the opposition to the Iraq war was growing. He won re-election even though it was growing but it kept growing and then Katrina came along and it undermined his second term.

What lesson did you learn from a second term that could help this president?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the President's problem was personal, not policy so I think it's very different.

BURNETT: There are so many inappropriate things I could think to answer that question.

BEGALA: But it's a completely different thing for that reason. But --

BURNETT: He got a budget.

BEGALA: He got a balanced budget and the only world leader in world history to win a war without losing a single soldier, the war in Kosovo which was a major war.

BORGER: I set him up for that.

BEGALA: He had a very impressive second term but he had a huge personal problem that the Republicans then made a political problem.

But I would actually counsel any president, especially this one, humility. You know, when a new Pope is invested, there's someone standing there saying (inaudible) "all glory in this world is fleeting". You have no idea sir the challenges and crises that will come your way.

Eisenhower was a great military mastermind. He had no idea that in his second term, he would have to deploy U.S. troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce a desegregation order and to defend the constitution here at home. So you never know the crises that will come to you.

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY OF GEORGE W. BUSH: You know, John, I think in the case of George Bush you have to separate the international from the domestic because the international was just so, so difficult. But on the domestic it was at the center wasn't there to be held or to be created or to be picked up.

Immigration reform, George Bush put everything he had into immigration reform. This is the man who just after this November election talked about how Hispanics enrich our soul. And he tried, and he couldn't find conservative Republicans to go along with him and I also have to say liberal Democrats were lying in wait. If the Republicans had come on board, they were going to fight it, too. So he just couldn't create that.

Foreign policy-wise, it just showed that the problems that are created in your first term will grow and come back to you if you haven't solved them. That's what happened to Bush on Iraq in the second term.

The issue -- my analogy there is to the economy for President Obama. If this economy doesn't come roaring back, he's going to have second term problems.

BORGER: But what I remember about President Bush was that he started to do Social Security reform, and that turned out to be a huge problem for him before he did immigration. And I think I read actually in his book -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that he wished that it had been reversed, that he had done immigration -- so the order in which you do things --

FLEISCHER: Gloria, that's really impressive, if you can remember that level of detail from his book.

BORGER: Hello.

FLEISCHER: Very good. I'm glad you read about that.

BEGALA: I colored in a few pages.

BORGER: No, but I also covered that, so I actually remember that, but --

FLEISCHER: I wouldn't have colored in the pages on your boss' book, they're too colorful.

KING: But you just made an important point. He couldn't find the center on a big issue. Gloria, you know, we have polarized politics in Bill Clinton's time, much of it because of the personal stuff, but not all of it. Polarized politics in President Bush's time; we've had polarized politics in the first four years here. Is there any hope of finding a center?

BORGER: I wish I could be really optimistic but I don't think so, because I think when Republicans start moving to the center, they're worried about getting primaried. They're worried about somebody coming up and challenging them to their right. When Democrats move to the center, and I would believe that the Democratic Party and the Congress now is really left of center. You may disagree with me, but they're worried if they move to the center, they're going to be challenged on the left.

So I think the state of our politics is such that there's nothing in it politically for anybody to move to the center.

BURNER: What about going for a long play? By that I mean a legacy play. You're not running for re-election -- you're one of the few people that aren't. Americans want you to stand up. Maybe do something deeply unpopular that Republicans say they want to do, entitlement reform but they really don't because they lose votes and maybe standing up and just taking a courageous stand.

FLEISCHER: You know, Erin, go back to the President's first inaugural. He talked then four years ago about the collective failure to make hard choices and he said the time of putting off unpleasant decisions, that time has surely passed. That's what you're talking about. Can he do that? If I were a Democrat I would want to cut the big bipartisan deal with Republicans in Congress. Because what are they going to do if it's President Marco Rubio or President Paul Ryan four years from now and a Republican Congress.

Same thing for Republicans; I would want to cut a deal with President Obama, that way you don't take all the blame and the heat for any changes that are made to Medicare and Social Security. That's one of the things that will compel people to actually get something done, but I think the edge is with Gloria. It's just hard to imagine in this place and this town it will happen.

BEGALA: I have to say we're drawing a false equivalency here. In his first term with a Democratic house and senate, the Democratic president cut Medicare by $716 billion and Republicans spent tens of millions of dollars and won a lot of races on that. And yet they came back and this President offered what most Democrats probably would not even have supported in terms of cutting Medicare.

And I don't want to use euphemisms like reform. We're talking about less spending on health care for seniors and yet a Democratic president was ready to offer that. This is not an equal, even statement deal. This President and I think his party are ready to, in fact, do some things that are very popular but they have no one with whom to negotiate.

The Speaker's not a bad man. He's a fine person. But every time he seems to try to lead he's undercut by his own team.

BORGER: Can I just say that I don't think the Speaker or the President actually controls his own party.

BEGALA: The President controls his party, believe me.

BORGER: But wait a minute --

BEGALA: He was not even primaried.

BORGER: But wait a minute -- but President Obama, the longer time passes, will have less and less control --

BEGALA: That's true.

BORGER: -- over his party. And that's another problem.

FLEISCHER: It's also uniquely the job of the president to pull people together to get it done. That uniquely is the leadership presidents provide.

KING: Leaves you very optimistic, right?

BURNETT: I'm feeling great.

BORGER: You're feeling the love?

BURNETT: All right. Well, obviously, the President is up against some serious challenges in his second term. Is he ready for the fight? His campaign press secretary who has been with him since he was Senator Obama is with us next.


KING: A party crowd supporting us here tonight on the National Mall. These guys are really into this.

BURNETT: They are. They are.

KING: Let's try to go behind the curtain into how President Obama thinks and how he operates politically as he heads into this second term now. Ben LaBolt is with us. He was President Obama's campaign press secretary.

Ben you were on the President's team when he was elected senator. You have been through two White House elections now. You've worked for other successful Democrats in recent years. You're either really lucky or really good.

How does the President view this moment? You just probably heard some of the conversation here. There's some people who say, well, he won, and Congressman Peter King said he sounds arrogant at times and Republicans take offense at that. How does he view the big moment especially tomorrow when he stands up there on the west front after his ceremonial oath and addresses the country?

BEN LABOLT, OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the fact is he was elected at a time of enormous challenges facing this country. The greatest economic challenges we've seen since FDR. And what this campaign was about was restoring economic security for the middle class. The fact is those challenges remain.

And so I think he's going to lay out a broader vision for where we head over the next four years but how in the long term we really reclaim economic security for the middle class. I think when you look back on President Obama's presidency we'll talk about the historic economic challenges and how he began to overcome them.

KING: But at the end of the campaign day when you're in the private room with only the inner circle, at any time has the President said if I get four more years -- and now he has four more years -- I need to do this differently or I need to take a different approach to this?

LABOLT: I think one thing that you've already seen change a little bit is during some of the fiscal negotiations during the first term. Those were brought behind closed doors. You had the President and the Speaker in a room trying to hash things out, and that didn't work from our perspective. The Speaker couldn't sell those plans to his conference after he'd agreed to them so what the President is never going to do is to fail to enlist the support of the American people in these legislative battles.

You have seen that already with the new organizing for action organization out there. All the campaign supporters across the country are organizing on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform, a balanced approach to reducing our deficit and growing the economy. You will see the muscle of the campaign organization behind these legislative battles now trying to attract bipartisan support.

BURNETT: Obviously, the criticism of that will be he's always out campaigning, rather than governing, rather than doing the negotiation.

LABOLT: I think this is different. It's not an electoral organization. The goal is to attract bipartisan support but we know that there are groups like the NRA out there that organize very effectively. You hear from members of Congress, well, I might vote for it but I'm concerned about what the NRA would do.

Well, if the NRA has 4 million members, this organization will have many more than 10 million members organizing out there, showing support in these congressional districts across the country and it's very important in passing some of this legislation.

KING: That's an interesting test.


KING: Let's see if you can transfer that organization into something that helps you in the second term.


BURNETT: All right Ben; good to see you.

LABOLT: Ok. Thanks for having me.

BURNETT: Now, when you go to the balls, what do you wear? Do you wear a tux?

KING: You know, I haven't been to a ball. I went to the MTV ball when Bill Clinton was elected president.

BURNETT: That must have been a fun one.

KING: It was a hoot. It was a really fun time. Mike McCory was -- before he came in to the Clinton Administration -- working with a group that was organizing that and got me a ticket and I wore a tux.

BURNETT: People dress up for this. This is big.

KING: Still fits.

BURNETT: And that is something to really be proud of. Good for you.

Obviously this is really not supposed to be at all about politics. In a sense it's supposed to be a nonpartisan event but it really is about parties here in Washington. We're going to take you to two parties -- they're already starting -- after this.


KING: I don't have one, but one of the hottest tickets in town during this inauguration weekend is the hip-hop inaugural ball. We'll go live there in a moment, but first a look at how the hip-hop community helped Mr. Obama get a second term. Here is CNN's Shannon Travis.


SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama may also have 99 problems, but Jay-Z isn't one. The rapper and the hip- hop community have been huge Obama supporters campaigning for cash, votes, and apparently influencing President Obama to a famous Jay-Z move and song that involved wiping dirt off your shoulder. Now some say President Obama owes the hip-hop community.

BENJAMIN CHAVIS, CO-CHAIRMAN, HIP-HOP SUMMIT ACTION NETWORK: I think that the president does owe a word of gratitude to the hip-hop generation for their outstanding and unprecedented get out the vote.

TRAVIS: Benjamin Chavis, co-chairs the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network with hip hop legend Russell Simmons. Chavis says in both Obama's elections the community promoted him with artist performances and with hip-hop's big microphone.

RUSSEL SIMMONS, HIP HOP LEGEND: I feel as a citizen it's my responsibility. I got a big voice I want to use it, and I feel like we have to go to work every day to make sure that the president gets back to the office.

TRAVIS: The community says it helped get African-Americans, Latinos, and young voters to the polls, all groups the president won and all groups with a broad love of hip-hop. Republicans are watching. And just after Obama's second election, republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a possible future presidential candidate, told "GQ" magazine he's long enjoyed rap music. Make no mistake who that's aimed at. But some political observers wonder what does the hip-hop community want?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know what the gay and lesbian community asks for as a demographic. We know what the Latino community asks for around immigration. What does the hip-hop community ask for? So when Jay-Z gave a fund-raiser for the president with his wife, Beyonce, what was the ask? What did he ask for in terms of issues?

TRAVIS: Chavis says the hip-hop community does have issues like high unemployment in minority communities and education. Other things he'd ask.

CHAVIS: Well, first, I would ask the president of the United States give a shout out to the hip-hop community.

TRAVIS: Shannon Travis, CNN, Washington.


ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR: well, they're going to have their chance to see what happens. So here is the thing. It's pretty nice out here tonight. It's going to be chilly out here tomorrow and then people are going to warm it up, GO get their dancing shoes on and go to the balls. It's really all about the balls for a lot ever people. So we want to check in on a couple of them that are getting started tonight, the big event. Don Lemon is at the hip-hop ball and Brooke Baldwin is at the Red, White, and Blue concert ball. Don, to start with you since you are at the hottest ticket right now. And you look ready for it.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you mean it's going - it's chilly out here right now. That's why I'm wearing the hat so don't ask. Everyone is asking me about the hat. I said the hat is because it's cold, and I'm warm. But, yes, we are. We're here at the Harmon Center and right behind that Ryder truck, believe it or not, Erin, that's where the red carpet is for the hit hop ball and I just gotten my hands on the guest list for the hottest ticket in town who is going to be there.

We're told - I was asking John King when you guys were with me who if he knew who Two Chains was because he's a big hip-hop fan. He said, yes, he knew who he was. Two Chain is going to be here. Alicia Tyler, Antonio Banderas is going to be here, Charles (INAUDIBLE) is going to perform and preview part of his movie. Common is going to be here, Dave Chappelle, Eva Longoria, Tyson Beckford, the model, among other, among many others. We just got inside just a little bit ago there. They're doing some of the performances. R&B performer singer Paula Campbell was performing. She's performing the national anthem as well as a black national anthem and also a deejay is performing as well. They are also getting ready for what's going to happen a little bit later.

It doesn't really kick off until about 8:00 that's when the red carpet starts and then everything gets started in full at about 10:00 p.m. but we're standing outside and we're going to see if they can move that truck so we can get a better shot of it so that our viewers on CNN can get a better shot. But the guest list, it's a big guest list, hopefully we'll get to interview some of these guys as soon as they start to arrive. Erin, John.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much.

KING: Do you think Dave Chappelle and Eva Longoria have ever been mentioned back-to-back like that before?

BURNETT: That's a really good point.

KING: I'm not so sure. Brooke, over at the Warner Theater, that's where the Red, White, and Blue concert ball that honors our nation's military men and women and Brooke Baldwin has that one covered for us. Hey Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, yes, they definitely kicked up the music. The crowd is already milling about. It's going to be a huge, huge rocking night in the Warner Theater because you have, of course, the awesome southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. We're about to go interview them in just a moment. Now I'm hearing they're announcing this local band, this house band that's going to bring everyone in the theater. But really the stars tonight are our men and women in uniform.

I want to talk to Bret Graveline who is a staff sergeant. It's been such a pleasure. We've been talking actually the last 20 minutes. And so I just want to say thank you first for serving our country. You're part of the Wounded Warrior Project. You were injured in Iraq. Tell me what happened.

STAFF SGT. BRET GRAVELINE, U.S. ARMY: Well, in August of '09 I was in a hard landing, ended up shattering most of the vertebrae in my neck, so over about 12 surgeries ended up fusing from C-4 all the way down to T-2 which took my entire outdoor life to two sports that I could do, which is swimming and riding a recumbent bicycle.

BALDWIN: You're exciting about scuba diving down at Gitmo with a couple of your buddies. I know, it's a part of this amazing program. I don't want to talk too much over the music but tell me what does this evening, being out in crowds, I know it's tough, you said, even just to be bumped by people. Is this therapeutic for you tonight?

GRAVELINE: I think it is. You know, especially getting some of us out here, finding out some of the hidden wounded. Not everything is visible all the time, and then we go over a list like I did there as far as things that are wrong and people don't see. It's good for them to actually realize that.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much. I appreciate it and I promise I'm going to get your ball hat autographed by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I'm going to go down there. It's a huge party. It's a bipartisan party. Members of Congress, both sides of the aisle put on by Citizens Honoring Heroes. We're going to be here tonight. Don't miss it live from the Warner Theater. John, Erin.

KING: It's great to focus some attention especially on that event, the wounded warriors cause continues. I get the chills every time I hear one of those guys talk. Their courage is just amazing. It's great. And obviously a lot of politics around the inauguration.

Latino voters helped re-elect the president and tonight that community adding some flavor to this inauguration weekend. The big event getting under way right now. I'm going to take you there live, next.


BURNETT: On this historic day we have brought in three historians to help us put it all in perspective. Peter Onuf is a history professor at the University of Virginia, Ed Ayers is a historian and also the president of the University of Richmond and Brian Balogh is a University of Virginia history professor. Together they're the host of the public radio program "Backstory with the American History Guys," which is a great look at what really matters, which is how we got where we are.

Obviously you all are so aware of how many second terms have dissolved into crisis or scandal. We were just going through what happened with President George W. Bush with the Iraq war and President Clinton with his personal indiscretion with Monica Lewinsky. So why have presidents struggled so much with a second term? You would think this is the term that, you know, nothing maters in a good way, you could go make a difference but it doesn't always happen that way. PROF. BRIAN BALOGH, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Yes, but I think we have to look at the percentages, Erin. I mean, to get to the second term you probably did pretty well in your first term, right? And over the course of eight years it's not that unusual for a president to stumble or have a problem. So I think we've got to look at presidents over the whole eight years and get away from this second term curse.

PROF. PETER ONUF, BACKSTORY RADIO'S "THE AMERICAN HISTORY GUYS": Yes, well, familiarity does breed contempt. We're not on too much. I mean George Washington had a lousy second term relatively speaking. He was the father of his country. No parties, unanimous choice of the American people. Well, we don't like to talk about it, but people were taking a lot of potshots at him in the second term because that's when the Republican, that is the Jeffersonian Republican Party emerged. It was a tough time. He wanted to quit after his first term. They wouldn't let him, and he was sorry he hadn't.

BURNETT: And they just throw things at him. Talk about gratefulness.

ONUF: Then he died in 1795 and everybody -

AYERS: Loved him.

ONUF: Made believe it hadn't happened.

KING: We talk all the time about - maybe it's something of the cable era, the twitter verse era, the country has never been so divided, it's never been so partisan, it's never been so polarized. Pre-TV, pre-radio, if you go back and read the history books -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's not your fault.

ED AYERS, PRES. UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND: To build on your earlier question, we don't have anybody in the second term for most of the 19th century. There are no second acts. You know, Abraham Lincoln is re-elected but doesn't really get to serve it out. Andrew Jackson throughout the entire rest of the century except for Ulysses Grant, there's no second term.

BALOGH: And it's a lousy second term.

AYERS: So I think what's partisan, they thought - each generation thought, gosh, now it's the worst it's ever been for 200 years.

BURNETT: It's got to be a whole lot harder now to go down in history as a good president though, right? Because of social media. Because you know, you're never going to be able to ignore all the nasty things and often nasty outweighs nice when it comes to the internet.

BALOGH: I'm going to turn to Peter because there was so much nastiness back in his time.

ONUF: Yes.

BALOGH: And he had like all those presidents had two terms in a row.

ONUF: Look, John Adams has only recovered his reputation in the last few years.

AYERS: And it took a movie to do that.

ONUF: And he was reviled. He was considered a monarchist and a pseudo aristocrat. The partisanship of the 1790s was absolutely vicious. You wouldn't believe it.

AYERS: And one of the things we worry about, the Democrats versus Republicans, but it's when you don't have those two structures that things really fall apart.


AYERS: You know, talking about the civil war coming, there's nobody in charge. And so ironically the very thing that feeds this also contains it and channels it.

KING: We will focus a lot tomorrow on the president's big moment, will be the speech. And the American people will watch, some people around the world will watch. What does history tell us about the importance of inaugural addresses and is there any distinction between a first and a second?

BALOGH: Yes, I think in the second inaugural address, the tone is always a little more subdued. The ambitions are usually a little lower. Now Franklin D. Roosevelt laid out a very ambitious agenda to help the common man in his second inaugural, but in general I think the president is a little bit chastened by the time of their second inaugural.

ONUF: Washington only spoke 135 words.

BURNETT: That guy really didn't want the job, huh?

BALOGH: But he did anticipate Twitter.

ONUF: That's 140 words.

AYERS: At Mt. Vernon.

His was considered the greatest inaugural speech, Lincoln's second inaugural speech is also brief and people at the time said where are the policy directives? What's he going to do? What's his kind of forgiveness and providence? Whatever.

ONUF: Good speeches lasted for hours in the 19th century. That was entertainment.

BURNETT: Well, thank god times have changed.

KING: Gentlemen, we want to circle back after tomorrow and see what you think of the moment and then maybe we'll circle back in 50 years, right, when we have a much better flavor of what this means. Thank you so much for your help.

ONUF: Thank you. BALOGH: Thank you.

KING: As we noted a few minutes ago, Latino voters were a huge part of reflecting President Obama. Tonight that community adding some flavor to this inauguration weekend. That big event is getting under way right now and we're going to get you there live. Stay with us.


BURNETT: A gorgeous, gorgeous night in Washington. It is the center of the action. But of course, it may not be right behind us on the capitol or right here on the CNN set it may actually be the Kennedy Center where the Latino inaugural event is getting ready. Our Suzanne Malveaux is there to give those of us - who didn't get tickets of which I believe, John and I both, are in that number, a little bit of a peek. Hey, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, yes. We were fortunate enough to get some tickets, actually, to get some backstage passes. You know, it is amazing what's happening here at the Kennedy Center because on one end of the Kennedy Center you got Smoky Robinson who is doing this big let freedom ring concert. On the other end of the Kennedy Center you got really kind of a who's who in Latino community celebrating tonight a sense of empowerment here.

What they did during the campaign, during the election and really feeling a sense that there is a game changer, that there's something in the air, there's something that's in the community that they know that their vote counts, that their money counts and so they're celebrating tonight. It is really a huge party. Had a chance to go backstage, the red carpet. Talk to the people who would mean to the most. We're talking about Eva Longoria. She has been out there. She was at the DNC. She was on the campaign trail really moving forward trying to get the Latino vote, talk to Mario Lopez, the actor there. Talked about the importance of the need of young folks getting out there and even the legendary Rita Morino who says look she wants Republicans and Democrats to both get on board.

Also, really special person we met. This is Richard Blanco. Now he is actually a 44-year-old and he is making history tomorrow. He's Cuban American. He is openly gay. And he is going to be the one to deliver the poem in the inauguration. We had a chance to talk about what it's going to be like and a little bit about the nerves. Here's how he described it to me.


RICHARD BLANCO, INAUGURAL POET: Well, as far as writing the poem itself, that took weeks and that's all I did around the clock. And through the process of working with the PIC and all that. So once I got to D.C. on Thursday, the poem was done, practiced and really since I have been here it's more about just sort of more official duties and whatnot and interviews and things like that but, you know, there's - it's interesting because there's something to be said about the spontaneity of the art, as well. I have rehearsed the poem, looked at the poem several times. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: He's a little nervous. I have to admit. He admits it himself. This is going to be the largest audience, of course, that he's ever delivered a poem. He is a teacher, as well. All of his students very proud of him and he said one of the things he's going to have is a poem and photo of members of his family who are also poets, as well, just to give him that inspiration, that little something extra that he's going to need tomorrow to be out there in front of so many people and, John, Erin, also had a chance to catch up with Bo Biden, who is here as well. His father is attending this big Latino celebration and it really is just a moment. He said to thank the community, that they are, in fact, the reason why there is a second Obama administration and that they are going to pay tribute to that tonight. We're going to have all of those interviews coming up in the next hour.

BURNETT: Thanks, Suzanne.

KING: I was going to say all work and no play makes Suzanne a dull anchor. Don't do all that work. Enjoy yourself, Suzanne.

BURNETT: Exactly.

KING: Enjoy yourself. Work can wait.

As we all know, plans for the inauguration have been under way long before the country knew would Mitt Romney win or would President Obama get four more years? Ahead, we go behind the scenes who are making sure everything runs smoothly.


KING: Beautiful nighttime shot of our nation's capitol and, you know, inauguration ceremonies require, Erin, a massive amount of prep work.

BURNETT: That's right. Even with that it's utter gridlock in the city but the planning for tomorrow's big events, an even at the capitol in the morning has been going on for more than a year. Our Dana Bash takes us behind the scenes.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No, that's not the president. It's a stand-in. But this is the kind of exhaustive prep going on to make sure there are no mistakes. It's not just for the president. Senator Chuck Schumer is the events emcee.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, INAUGURAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Oh, yes. I don't want to do what Chief Justice Roberts did. He's brilliant man and he messed up.

BASH: Roberts messed up the oath four years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... faithfully the office of the president faithfully.

BASH: He had to go to the White House for a do-over.

(on camera): What are you afraid of messing up?

SCHUMER: Well, whatever, not getting up in the right time, introducing the wrong person, who knows?

BASH (voice-over): As chair of the inaugural committee, Schumer has been preparing for this day for more than a year.

SCHUMER: And we didn't know who the president would be. But together, it's always done in a bipartisan way.

BASH: A central focus, trying to avoid problems that put a damper on the last Obama inauguration.

SCHUMER: Tens of thousands of people missed it. They came in from all over the country. So, we've done symbolic things like get rid of those infamous purple tickets and there was also a tunnel way that was closed off and thousands of them were just stuck there and missed the whole inauguration. We closed that.

BASH: They've done other things to help the hordes of people coming to watch, like adding cell phone towers for better reception and porta-potties, 505 to be exact.

But behind the scenes, prepping for an inauguration is also about preserving memorabilia for history.

We brought out a few of our older items.

BASH: That's Diane Skvarla's job, as Senate curator, she collects as much as she can from the event, even the carpet the president stands on to take the oath.

(on camera): So you saved the carpet he stood on?

On the west front?


BASH: Where is it?

SKVARLA: It's actually at the National Archive.

BASH: This is a sample of what he would be standing on?

SKVARLA: Yes. Actually, having this in our collection in 200 year's time, somebody can say that's exactly the color, that's the make, we get all the information about it. I mean, it sounds like a lot of detail for an average person but in 200 year's time somebody says, "Great, I'm glad someone saved that so we have it for the record."

BASH (voice-over): History in the making. Dana Bash, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)