CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

The Presidential Inauguration, Obama Speaks at Candlelight Celebration

Aired January 20, 2013 - 20:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: So help you god?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So help me god.

ANNOUNCER: Now the stage is set for a daylong party in the nation's capital. We'll take you behind the scenes of the last-minute preparation. For the president's speech, the parade, the balls and the tone being set for the battles ahead.

OBAMA: I say to you that the challenges we face are real but know this, America. They will be met.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's coverage of the presidential inauguration. From the first salute to the last dance. A divided nation comes together for a celebration of democracy.

OBAMA: And we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are live at the National Mall.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Anderson Cooper.

Tomorrow, the lead -- the lead band leading off the parade is going to be from Grambling State University in Louisiana. Tonight, they lead off our coverage.

Take it away, guys.

(MUSIC)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer here on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

We're going to be hearing from the Grambling State University marching band all hour. This is a very special hour. And indeed, it's been a very historic day already here in the nation's capital.

President Barack Obama officially beginning his second term after a private swearing-in. Just hours from now, a crowd of some 800,000 people, maybe more, they will gather right here for the public ceremony and the excitement is only just beginning.

Big parties are already getting under way all across the nation's capital tonight.

Let's bring in CNN's Brooke Baldwin. She's joining us from the Red, White and Blue Ball.

Brooke, where are you? First of all, you look lovely.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf Blitzer, I am inside the Warner Theater. It's absolutely gorgeous. You just missed the opening band, this is a local band. Really they're here to tee up the reason we're all here.

I myself am honored to be here because we are recognizing the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. We're about to hear from Lynyrd Skynyrd because they're the headlining band. They're thrilled to be here. This is a bipartisan party. Members -- some Democrats, some Republicans in the band.

I just talked to them backstage. They talked to me about why they wanted to perform tonight. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beau, good to see you again.

BEAU BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT'S SON: Great to see you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: We don't have sound. Well, what I wanted to tell you is that they wanted to be here because this braces really the patriotism. They say that they were supposed to initially play at the Democratic convention. One of the lead singers here endorsed Mitt Romney and told me look, this is all about getting behind the president now.

And in talking to one of the Wounded Warrior earlier tonight, he said, really, this is actually, Wolf, therapeutic for them to be here. Many of them are suffering PTSD. Many of them have a really special night out from Walter Reed and so this is their moment to be honored.

Again, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle coming together tonight for this. Lynyrd Skynyrd. We're about to hear from the daughter of Senator John Thune. She'll be singing so we'll make sure we stay here live. It's a tremendous opportunity to thank what really sometimes can be a thankless job, fighting for our freedoms, and so we'll be hearing from them a little later tonight in addition to Lynyrd Skynyrd right here at Warner Theater.

Back to you.

BLITZER: And we're going to be able to hear a little bit of that live performance tonight. Is that right, Brooke?

BALDWIN: Yes. They will be up. They will actually -- after the Tuskegee Airmen, Wolf. Let me mention that. Several members of what you know a historic group of African-American men that are very first aviators in World War II. So they will be here tonight. I've seen Rolling Thunder here tonight. A number of other veterans, very highly decorated veterans around here. But the end of the whole thing, I know, Wolf, you're excited about Katy Perry last night. I will see your Katy Perry, raise you a Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Warner Theater. We'll take it live.

BLITZER: I'm so excited. I'm pumped. You -- as I said, you look fabulous. Love the dress. We're going to show our viewers the whole outfit later tonight. So don't go too far away, Brooke. I want our viewers to see how gorgeous --

BALDWIN: OK.

BLITZER: -- you look tonight.

Susan Malveaux is standing by live over at the Kennedy Center where there's a huge Latino inaugural event that's underway hosted by Eva Longoria.

Suzanne, tell us what's going on over there.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it really is exciting at the Kennedy Center because you have two different things going on simultaneously. Smokey Robinson who just wrapped up an amazing concert. Hundreds of people gathering here. It was called Let Freedom Ring concert in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.

On the other hand of the Kennedy side -- on the other side of the Kennedy Center you had really a who's who in Latino community celebrating the fact that there's such a sense of empowerment in the community because of the campaign, because of the election, and the re-election of President Barack Obama.

Had a chance to talk to a lot of people who showed up. Some on the red carpet. Others who were here for the concert. Beau Biden, one of those, of course, who was here with his dad, with their family. I think he said there are like 50 of them who have been running around over the weekend getting together for these inaugural events.

He says it's all a big celebration tonight. So we talked a little bit about some of the things that happened including a little controversial remark his father made really off camera when he accidentally said he was the president. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Beau, good to see you again.

BEAU BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT'S SON: Great to see you.

MALVEAUX: What do you -- what do you make of the last 24 hours and looking forward? I mean, there must be a lot of excitement.

BIDEN: A lot of excitement. We're -- our whole family is together which is always nice. There's about 50 Bidens and -- running around this town. Thirteen immediate family. A bunch of kids. And it was really wonderful to see my dad sworn in this morning again and to be Barack Obama's vice president. It's a job he loves, I think he's pretty darn good at it, and he and the president are -- were at work as we speak.

MALVEAUX: And what do you make of the fact that your father made the slip and said, well, president as well as vice president?

BIDEN: Well, I was with him. Look, I've been out there a lot when the president is done for -- you know -- look. That's a very easy word to forget sometimes and he was there to talk about the president -- last night. And talk about what a great choice that Iowa made on 2008 when they chose Barack Obama and the caucuses which we were out there working hard, as well, for. And what he was there to talk about in Iowa was what a phenomenal choice that Iowa made in 2008 and how important it was then to set President Obama on his course and also this past cycle in 2012 in the general election.

You know, Iowa plays such a central part as you've covered in the caucuses, but rarely does it get to play such a central role in the general election. It did this time around, too. And that's what he's there to talk about and thank them.

MALVEAUX: And what does it mean for you and your dad to be a part of this event today in -- celebrating the Latino empowerment and really what they did for the second administration and the campaign?

BIDEN: I would say it's a big thank you here. I mean, the Latino community, both in Delaware where I'm from and all over this country from the west to the east, north and south. An incredibly important community. One that I'm close with in my state and central to the fabric of our state. And my dad is here to thank the Latino community in some small way for being there and having the president's back.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Beau.

BIDEN: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Good to see you.

BIDEN: Good to see you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: So, Wolf, they're -- they're actually inside. They are participating in the celebration. It really is going to be very upbeat. You're going to have a lot of performances, actresses, singing numbers. These kinds of things. But you know what's really fascinating, I had a chance to talk to a number of people on the red carpet and a -- they were very serious about what they were saying in terms of the message about where the Latino community is going politically and what this means for them.

I had a chance to talk to Eva Longoria, Rita Moreno, many others, as well. I want you to listen to why this is so important. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Tell me what this evening means to you, the inauguration and really the empowerment of the Latino community.

RITA MORENO, SINGER AND ACTRESS: What is special about tonight is that I think for the first time the Hispanic community is really being honored. As it perhaps should have been many years ago. But that's OK. You know? We have patience. Just ask the president. We are -- I don't know if we're patient but we are persevering. And I think the Hispanic community deserves it and I think what is especially marvelous tonight is that we're not the only ones who were doing a fabulous show.

MALVEAUX: You look beautiful.

EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Seen you on the campaign trail, the DNC.

LONGORIA: Yes.

MALVEAUX: You've been very active in politics. What does this evening mean for you and why have you gotten so involved?

LONGORIA: Well, I -- you know, I've always been involved. This is the first time I was a co-chair so the responsibilities were kind of heightened and, you know, were a lot this time around but I welcomed it and I was very honored to be part of this whole process. The best part was going across the country and, you know, talking to people about what they cared about, what they wanted.

Not just Latinos but women and youth and minorities. All walks of life and so it was a lot of fun doing it. Tonight's pretty special because it's a big thank you to this vote that turned out. It was a historic mobilization of the Hispanic vote and so tonight is recognizing this community and saying, you know, you have -- you're part of the thread that makes up America.

PRINCE ROYCE, SINGER: To be here in the inauguration is just true honor for me representing, you know, where I'm from. My parents were immigrants. I'm Dominican American. So I think it's just a dream come true to be here and like that song, that was in Spanglish and that's who I am.

You know I grew up -- I grew up in New York. I studied in English but I spoke Spanish at home. So we're here basically to represent Latinos but represent also Americans and that no matter where you're from, no matter what language and what race, you know, we should stick together and fight for our country.

MALVEAUX: Can you give me a few bars?

ROYCE: It goes --

(SINGING) MALVEAUX: Beautiful.

ROYCE: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

Have a good night.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: He is very talented. He's going to be one of the people wrapping up the program here. There are 2100 people in the Opera House but there are thousands of people who are watching this via Facebook or Univision live streaming here following all of this. Very exciting evening tonight. Really a celebration and of course looking forward to the big day tomorrow, inauguration day -- Wolf, Anderson.

BLITZER: Suzanne, thanks very much.

Suzanne looks fabulous tonight, too.

COOPER: Yes.

BLITZER: Brooke Baldwin looks fabulous. You know, Eva Longoria --

COOPER: I'm surprised you're not with the bands, Wolf. You and the music.

BLITZER: I know.

COOPER: You love your Katy Perry.

BLITZER: We got Lynyrd Skynyrd coming up.

COOPER: I mean -- and I know you're very excited.

Let's talk a little bit about what has happened today already and also what happens tomorrow. Want to bring in our panel of folks who are joining us. Cornell Belcher, of course, is with us here. Also "Washington Post" columnist, Sally Quinn, Margaret Hoover, Van Jones, as well.

We saw the swearing in earlier today. The official swearing in, which has to take place on Sunday. It was very quick but it really an event steeped in history and tradition. Not a lot of pageantry but a really important moment.

SALLY QUINN, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, history because it's the third time he's taken the oath of office.

COOPER: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

QUINN: And he's going to do it another time tomorrow so I think he'll be the only president who's taken it four times.

BLITZER: FDR.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FDR.

QUINN: FDR. That's right. FDR.

COOPER: Yes.

QUINN: Because he was in these four different administrations.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Because he was elected four times.

QUINN: Yes.

COOPER: But it was kind of remarkable --

QUINN: Right.

COOPER: -- moment to witness. I mean, they got it right this time so there weren't any mess-ups but --

QUINN: Yes. Well, I think his daughter said, you know, dad, it's a good thing you didn't screw up or something.

COOPER: Right. Yes. He didn't.

QUINN: But he wasn't the one who screwed up. It was the chief justice last time.

COOPER: Right. It was John Roberts. Yes.

VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA SPECIAL ADVISER: It was a very powerful moment. I mean, for a couple of reasons. Personally, you see his confidence. You see he's really grown in to the role. He's occupying the role. You saw the pride in his daughters' eyes. But this is -- we went from exhilaration in 2008 to confirmation and I think for a lot of people, they weren't sure it was an accident in history. No. This country is great enough that we can get beyond the racial segregation of very recent past and do this, not just once, but twice. It's a very powerful moment.

COOPER: Cornell, you're a pollster for him this time and last time. Do you think he is a different man than he was four years ago?

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the gray hair shows that he's a little different. I said, the last time I saw him, I said, you're as gray as I am.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Nothing wrong with gray hair.

(LAUGHTER)

HOOVER: Says the panel.

COOPER: Yes.

BELCHER: But you can see it. I think he came in -- we came in with a lot of sort of hope and thinking that we can actually change Washington. I think now he sees that, you know, the people need to be a part of this process to change Washington.

COOPER: Absolutely.

BELCHER: He alone and the White House alone, as powerful as the president is, he can't change Washington. I think you're going to see this White House going back as they already have begun to, going more and more to the people and leaning on OFA, Organizing for Action now, not Organizing for American anymore, leaning on them to sort of bring pressure on Washington to fix that very dysfunctional body right behind him.

COOPER: So does that mean a constant campaign mode?

BELCHER: I think -- I think you're going to have to see, to a certain extent, a constant sort of organizing mode. Because look, I would argue that the extremism that we see in Congress right now that's breaking Congress, I mean, you have Speaker Boehner who can't control his own caucus. I mean, he had (INAUDIBLE) bill on the floor. So I think when you see that sort of extremism in Congress and nothing moving forward, I think we're at a unique time that calls for unique measures.

BLITZER: Say something.

COOPER: No. I'm always --

(LAUGHTER)

QUINN: It's hard to argue with that.

COOPER: But, Margaret, do you see Republicans -- how do you see Republicans playing this?

HOOVER: Here's what's fascinating. You know, there was this precedent called the Hastert rule, right? Which Boehner has shunned two times now. Right? This was the president that you have to get the majority of your coalition to go along with the bill, otherwise you were somehow eroding away the pure power base.

Twice now Boehner with Sandy and then with the fiscal cliff deal has had -- depended on a majority of Democrats and a reasonable edge of the opposition, reasonable amount of Republicans to go along with it. Can this sustain itself? That is Barack Obama's best hope of a legacy piece in his second term.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stand by because we've got some important news coming up.

COOPER: Let me guess, band related. BLITZER: Band related. Not only the Grambling marching band.

COOPER: Yes.

BLITZER: We've got rock n' roll. We've got solid rock n' roll. We also -- listen to Grambling. We also got Alino Cho. She's going investigative journalism right now. Who's going to be the designer of the first lady's gown? Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin live in Washington, D.C. here on the eve of a very significant day for the president of the United States. Of course, the public swearing-in, the west side of the capitol building. But as we're here, of course, for the president, we have to talk about his wife, the first lady, and what could possibly be the best kept secret in Washington.

What's she going to wear tomorrow night? The big inaugural ball gown. It's very, very secretive. Very hush-hush. And of course, who would know the scoop perhaps tonight?

Alino Cho, she has the inside look at this fierce competition here to design for the first lady.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First Lady Michelle Obama.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When First Lady Michelle Obama walked out on stage in that memorable white gown by Jason Wu, overnight the designer became a household name.

(On camera): So take me to that moment where she walked out.

JASON WU, DESIGNER: I mean, I think I screamed out on top of my lungs. I mean, I was like, it's me.

CHO (voice-over): So who will be the lucky one four years later?

ERIC WILSON, NEW YORK TIMES: It's really brilliant what she's done in keeping a secret, I have to say, because in the previous administrations, while there was always interest in what the first lady wore, there was never this kind of red carpet moment.

CHO: Sources close to the process say what started out as a 20- designer field for the inaugural gown has now whittled down to two. Two designers who have a shot at worldwide fame. So who are they? Likely a New York-based designer and quite possibly one who is emerging versus established.

Around Thanksgiving, designers submit sketches. Garments are made, there are fittings and more fittings. The gowns are actually shuttled back and forth between New York and D.C. And because these designers don't have direct access to the first lady, they have mannequins made in her likeness that live in their studios.

WILSON: Some people would compare it to dressing Anne Hathaway at the Golden Globes but I would say it's more like a few dress of every celebrity at the Golden Globes. It's that much exposure.

CHO: By one estimate, a single appearance by the first lady in a designer's clothes is worth $14 million. Tally up all of her public appearances for the year and that's a nearly $3 billion boost to the fashion industry.

Take Jason Wu, since that moment, he's designed everything from a Target collection to candles to furniture. But that's business.

What will the gown look like? If the past is any guide, Mrs. Obama with those famous arms tends to favor strapless and one shoulder gowns. Fitted at the waist and lots of color. Sources say strapless is at least one option she's considering. Designers are mindful this piece of clothing is not just an outfit but a piece of history, too.

ISABEL TOLEDO, DESIGNER: You have to describe in this garment what she's feeling, the importance of the moment. And I felt like Betsy Ross.

CHO: Designer Isabel Toledo gained fame after she dressed the first lady at the swearing- ceremony on inauguration morning.

TOLEDO: I didn't want to dress her for that evening of the ball. I wanted to do the inauguration.

CHO (on camera): Why?

TOLEDO: Because that's the moment that the whole world is a part of. And a whole world was watching.

CHO (voice-over): Which is why this time --

TOLEDO: Some people wanted the know, are you going to be a part of it this time? And I said, you know, there's nothing more important than seeing someone else have this gift and what they do with it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: And let me bring in our CNN resident fashionista Alino Cho and we also have Joe Zee standing next to me, stylist and creative director for "Elle" magazine.

But Alina Cho, let me just begin with you because of course you always have the inside scoop. Can we talk about what she was wearing, what the first lady was wearing, this beautiful -- the blue, the cardigan for this private swearing-in. What do you know?

CHO: Well, you're absolutely right. It was marine cashmere cropped cardigan and a matching marine blue pink brush print dress there. You see her. Made by American designer Reed Krakoff and what's extraordinary about this choice, Brooke, is that she's not only in this one outfit supporting the designer of his namesake label, Reed Krakoff, the person, but Reed Krakoff is also the president of the iconic American brand Coach which does $5 billion in sales and employs 16,000 people worldwide.

BALDWIN: Wow.

CHO: So it really was a brilliant choice from a fashion standpoint. I actually spoke to Reed Krakoff just about an hour or two ago. He told me, "For me this is one of the most important moments of my career." He said, "Michelle Obama to me epitomizes a modern, powerful and independent woman." When I asked him whether he was nervous, he said, "Being nervous, well, that's just part of being inspired, as well."

BALDWIN: You know, Alino, that's what I want to talk about with Joe Zee, it's the nerves. I can't imagine. Back to what she might wear for this inaugural gown tomorrow night. The thing that gets me is these designers, they have no idea if she chose their gown until she wears it and they see her on television.

JOE ZEE, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, ELLE MAGAZINE: No. I mean, unlike an actress on the red carpet in Hollywood, these designers aren't informed by the White House whether Mrs. Obama will ever wear their gown or not. So, Jason Wu, flashback four years ago, had no idea until she stepped out and he saw it on TV, and he literally said -- he was screaming at home when he saw her in his dress.

BALDWIN: Alina, back over to you, because listening to your piece --

CHO: Yes.

BALDWIN: -- and we're talking about, you know, that beautiful white one-shoulder gown you mentioned her stunning arms. Are we thinking a color tomorrow night? Do we have any idea what color? Strapless? What are we thinking?

CHO: I can tell you that I have I believe seen one of the final gowns in contention for tomorrow night. We shall see if she chooses it. Having said that, I did speak to one of the designers in the running for this inaugural gown and this person said something really interesting to me tonight. He said, what I'm feeling is a mixture of excitement and also a fear of disappointing the people I love and so it is an incredibly nerve wracking time for these designers.

BALDWIN: No pressure.

CHO: And -- exactly. No pressure.

BALDWIN: No pressure.

CHO: As Joe Zee pointed out, they really find out when the world does. We saw that with Jason Wu and we will see it again tonight, Brooke -- tomorrow night rather.

BALDWIN: OK. Alino Cho, we will all be watching, as we all talk about the best kept secret in Washington. I love it. The fashion of the first lady, Alina. Thank you. Joe Zee, thank you.

ZEE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And again we are live at the Warner Theater. Big, big night here. Many balls in Washington, but this is the place to be. We are honoring our men and women in uniform. And you know how the big headliner here is tonight. It is Lynyrd Skynyrd. I just talked to them backstage. You will hear from them next live on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here at the National Mall, with all of us getting ready for tomorrow's inauguration. The second inauguration after today's of the president of the United States. The marching band, they're doing a great job.

Anderson Cooper, as we're watching what's going on. I love this kind of music. But do you know what other kind of music I also love?

COOPER: You love all kinds of music.

BLITZER: I do. But how do you like Smokey Robinson? Do you like Smokey Robinson?

COOPER: I do. I actually heard him perform at an Elton John event. He's fantastic.

BLITZER: He's amazing and he's performing tonight at the Kennedy Center at one of the balls, the inaugural balls, and guess what we have right now?

COOPER: Video.

BLITZER: And sound.

COOPER: And sound.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Smokey Robinson, "My Girl." Let's listen.

COOPER: All right.

(MUSIC)

BLITZER: I love that song, "My Girl." Smokey -- I believe the Temptations made that song pretty popular as you remember.

COOPER: Of course, sure. Yes.

BLITZER: You seen the -- you see the ladies --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I've heard -- I've heard (INAUDIBLE) Temptations. BLITZER: They're moving. They're moving excellently. I could listen to these guys all night. But you know what, we've got to listen to other people, too.

COOPER: There are a lot of balls happening in D.C. tonight. Tomorrow, as well. Traffic, it's very difficult to get around but there's --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: As you and I can testify.

COOPER: Yes. We walked over but there's a real electricity in this city. A lot of excitement about tomorrow. A lot of excitement about the president's second term.

I'm here with our panel of -- Cornell Belcher, Margaret Hoover, Van Jones and also Sally Quinn, columnist from -- the "Washington Post."

Second terms, I mean, not a lot of presidents get second terms but they often do not turn out like the president anticipates. I mean, you have Bill Clinton who got impeached in his second term. You have Richard Nixon, we all know what happened to him in his second term. Iran-contra for Ronald Reagan. It often does not work out.

QUINN: Well, and let's not forget, Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam war.

COOPER: Right.

QUINN: No. I mean, one of the things that we know absolutely for sure is that something is going to go wrong in the second term.

COOPER: It always happens.

QUINN: It always does. Always. And sometimes you can foresee it, it's coming. It could be a natural disaster, it could be a terrorist attack. It could be, who know what is? I think that we're pretty safe in deciding that there's not going to be a sex scandal in the Obama family.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: In George Bush, it was the financial crisis.

QUINN: Right. Right. Exactly.

COOPER: And Katrina. Yes.

QUINN: But I -- so I think --

BELCHER: And Iraq.

QUINN: You know, the idea is how they handle it.

COOPER: Right. QUINN: How they handle it.

JONES: You know -- I'm going to go out on a limb. I think the worst may be behind him. He's actually got more momentum going in than most presidents do. His numbers are actually going up. The economy is getting a little bit better. The wars are winding down so he does have a shot but I think the most important thing, I would say is, I think he's found his game.

COOPER: But if you look at his popularity as compared to other presidents as they began their second terms. It's relatively low.

JONES: It is -- it is low. One of the lowest in past 20, 30 years but the numbers are moving in the right direction. I think -- I think he's found his rhythm, he's found a way to actually play the game in this town. I think he may actually have a better second term than the first.

COOPER: But Margaret Hoover --

HOOVER: I would say, be careful, my friend. Because --

COOPER: But is -- is the country more divided than it has been for other second term presidents?

HOOVER: I mean, the temptation is to say yes, although we are listening to civil right activists today saying, frankly, the country is just not nearly as polarized as when we're watching during the march on Washington.

COOPER: Right.

HOOVER: So let's keep it in historic perspective, but what I would tell you is, I think, you know, everybody has been saying to the president, in terms of legislatively, strike while the iron is hot. And the high watermark of his popularity, traditionally for all presidents, re-elected to a second term is right now. It is the first year of their second term.

Remember, we had six-year itch. After -- when you get to finally the third cycle of the congressional elections, it's 2014, you know, generally the minority -- the House of Republicans are expected to gain seats because there's a six-year itch with the presidency. That typically happens and then then you have a lame duck presidency after that. And so the time to pass legislation, to have a legacy piece is in the next two years and really this year.

BELCHER: I will also jump in and say that there's so many X factors out there right now. I mean, the Arab spring, I think we think it's a good thing right now but we don't know. We don't know what's going to happen in all these places across the Middle East. We hope democracy takes footing but we don't know.

COOPER: And just a year or two, we're talking about al Qaeda being decimated and now we're seeing Algeria and Mali.

BELCHER: That's right.

COOPER: And Libya and others.

BELCHER: I think -- I think from a foreign policy standpoint, you know, I think, his attention is going to be torn back to the Middle East. It just -- it just will. My prediction is that, you know, we'll have our domestic fights but I think on the danger front I think sort of what the Arab spring evolves into, we don't know and it's a big X factor.

BLITZER: Let me tell our viewers what we're waiting for because everybody -- a lot of more music. We got the Grambling University marching band. Lynyrd Skynyrd, he's going to be performing. Do you like him?

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Yes -- sure. I don't know that I'm quite as enthusiastic about the music as you are but --

BLITZER: I am very enthusiastic about it. You'll love those.

COOPER: For those who don't know, Wolf once had a band called The Monkeys before the Monkees.

BLITZER: That's correct.

QUINN: We're going to have to tie Wolf to his chair.

BLITZER: Let's listen to the Grambling -- and we're also waiting for the president and the vice president. They're going to be speaking at the candlelight celebration. Let's go to a break with Grambling University and the marching band.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

BLITZER: "What's Your Name?" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, performing at the Red, White And Blue gala. Gala or gala?

COOPER: Either one. Depends where you're from.

BLITZER: Or what part of the country you're from. That's in Warner Theater. Brooke Baldwin is over there. We're going to be talking to her and we're going to be showing our viewers, Anderson, the outfit that she's wearing. People are focusing on the first lady's.

COOPER: Yes.

BLITZER: Well, wait until you see Brooke Baldwin --

COOPER: I'm going to make a crazy prediction.

BLITZER: Yes.

COOPER: Tomorrow Wolf Blitzer will be wearing black. A black suit.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm just -- I'm going out on a limb there.

BLITZER: As I do every day.

COOPER: I know a lot -- I know a lot of people are wondering what's he going to wear. I'm telling you right now. It's going to be black.

BLITZER: We're going to show our viewers Brooke Baldwin's outfit tonight.

COOPER: Wow. OK. Stick around for that.

BLITZER: Her gown. It's amazing.

(LAUGHTER)

Wait until you see it.

COOPER: OK.

BLITZER: All right.

COOPER: Sure. Let's bring -- bring in our panel, Sally Quinn, Cornell Belcher, Margaret Hoover, Van Jones.

What are you anticipate hearing from the president tomorrow? And does it really matter what he says in his speech? I mean, in the media, we often focus on what is he going to say? Do people remember -- I mean, there have been a few memorable inaugural addresses. But does it really matter?

QUINN: Well, I think it matters enormously.

COOPER: Really?

QUINN: And I think that particularly this one, I think we want to hear a big vision from Obama. We've been disappointed in the last few big speeches he's given. You know? It didn't compare to the speeches he gave when he was running for office the first time. And even his inaugural speech. And the Philadelphia speech on race and, you know, he's just given some beautiful speeches but we haven't had that moment where he just sort of lifts us off our feet and so I want to hear that.

I want to hear -- I want to hear that we are the greatest country on earth and we can do it but in better language.

COOPER: Cornell, I hear that from a lot of people who like Obama and don't like President Obama, that -- I mean, on the campaign trail he is one way and then in office his speeches -- I mean, it is a different tone. Is that conscious by the president? BELCHER: Well, I think is you -- you have to govern differently. And to a certain extent, I think you're stuck in a trap. I mean, look. Hope and change came in this '08. There's so much hope and expectations are really high. But we're -- we have a lot of tough challenges and again, you know, you're -- you're talking about a president and we always want to sort of have this big sort of brouhaha, come together, we're going to do big things and huge things, but we've got a Congress that can't pass a budget. You know? So, I mean --

HOOVER: A Senate that can't pass a budget.

BELCHER: Well -- you and I aren't going to get into that this evening. We've got a Congress that can't pass -- can't pass a budget and basically holding our economy hostage right now so I think he's got to be careful about sort of promising too much.

COOPER: But as an orator, I mean, you think about Ronald Reagan and there were some of Reagan's speeches which we all remember to this day and yet if you think back on the last fours of President Obama's speeches, other than the ones on the campaign trail, there aren't a lot -- I mean, I think about the Newtown, because that was where he got emotional, but it was -- it's a different kind of rhetoric and oration, and I'm wondering if that is -- it must be a conscious decision by him to kind of -- is it the mantle of president that he feels is different?

JONES: What I can say is about this one, there's nothing tougher to do as a speech giver than what he's about to do. The problem that you have when you're dealing with the inaugural address is you have to deal with the present and you have to deal with the past and you have to deal with the future.

You've got to deal with the audience right in front of you. You're going to have a million people right in front of you. But you also are dealing with people all around the world. It's hard to do any one of those well. You've got to do them all the same time and you know you can't go on forever.

So I think that he is going to want to do well tomorrow. I think -- I think he knows that there are people out who are there who are going to say, this is really the last big speech from Obama, unless there's a war or something like that. This is the last big speech.

I think that there's pressure on him to do well. But I think -- I think what I would say if I were in his -- if I were advising him in this position, he has to both sound the tone that he wants unity, that he wants the country to go forward, and remind people of the values that we hold in common. And he's also got to show a certain amount of strength and determination that we're going to get there. In other words, I'll work with you, I'll work against you. The country is more important than the divisions here. Let's get past the division.

BLITZER: You don't think --

JONES: The country is more important. BLITZER: You don't think that his State of the Union address in two weeks before a Joint Session of Congress is going to be as important if not more important?

HOOVER: That's not -- that's not the overarching thematic visionary --

BLITZER: But it's policy, it's substance.

HOOVER: It's in the weeds, and it's what we're going to get now.

COOPER: Whoever ever remembers State of the Union addresses? I mean, we always make a big deal with it and --

HOOVER: Ask now what you can do country for -- ask not what you can do -- what your country can do for you what you can do for your country.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Yes. That was the inaugural. That's the inaugural address.

HOOVER: OK. I'm sorry.

COOPER: I'm talking about State of the Unions. No one remembers --

QUINN: We don't want a State of the Union speech tomorrow. And certainly, the world doesn't.

BLITZER: Here's what remember from the State of the Union address. "You lie."

QUINN: You lie. Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

HOOVER: So your point, though, Anderson, the speech that propelled Barack Obama on to the national stage on 2004, the nugget, the "we are not made of red states or blue states, we are the United States of America." Something along those lines. If he can strike that tone tomorrow, that would reach out to Republicans.

JONES: I've got tell you. That is the hardest --

HOOVER: He can't do it again.

JONES: But let me tell you what.

HOOVER: But can he not strike that tone because the country wants it?

JONES: The country wants it, but let me just tell you. I know you hold that standard high and that's the highest standard but that is three syllables that summed up the hopes of the country. No red states. No blue states. That did propel him. I don't know if there are six syllables like that left in America. But if they are there, you've got to -- (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right. Hold on.

BELCHER: No, quickly, what I think you're going to hear tomorrow is not going to be that different from what you heard on the campaign trail about sort of working to build an economy that works for the middle class, expand the middle class, strengthen the middle class. I think you'll hear a lot of that.

BLITZER: He's going to -- he's going to be speaking in the next few minutes. I'm going to take a quick break. We're going to hear from the president of the United States over at the candlelight celebration. Let's go to the break. As we go to the break, more from the Grambling University marching band right here on the National Mall.

(MUSIC)

BLITZER: The Grambling University marching band.

You know, Anderson, we just got the word the vice president of the United States is about to speak with Dr. Jill Biden. Let's listen in to hear what they're saying at the Candlelight Celebration, the National Building Museum.

JILL BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN'S WIFE: And that means so much to me and Joe. Joe and I are thrilled and I know you feel the same way to have Barack Obama as our president for another four years.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And Michelle as first lady.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And I may be a little biased but I couldn't think of a better man than my husband to help our president lead our country for the next four years.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

As long as he has the privilege of serving this nation, I know that Joe will keep fighting for American people every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming my husband, our vice president, Joe Biden.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: I've got to move this away, baby, over there.

Hello. I am -- I am Jill Biden's husband and I'm delighted to be with you all here.

Let me begin with the simplest of statements.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are the only reason that we are here. Thank you for your support. Thank you for being here. And most of all, thank you for believing in us.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've been honored to serve as vice president. But I've been especially honored to serve as Barack Obama's vice president.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

This man's already done an absolutely remarkable job. Historic health care reform. Two Supreme Court appointees, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Ending the war in Iraq and about to end the war in Afghanistan.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And stating forthrightly his support for marriage equality.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And I want you to know something else about this guy, Barack Obama. He's just getting started. He's just getting started. In the weeks and months ahead, we are going to reduce gun violence here in America. We're going to pass comprehensive immigration reform. And we're going to put this nation's economy on a sustainable path to the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's my great honor to introduce you to a magnificent, a truly magnificent first lady, Michelle Obama, and the guy she hangs out with, my friend, President Barack Obama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Hey. Hey. I thought you weren't coming out.

(LAUGHTER)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were.

BIDEN: I thought you weren't coming. I thought you changed your mind.

(LAUGHTER)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Hi, everybody.

(CHEERS)

Excuse our tardiness. But you know what? When Stevie Wonder has a few words to say to you.

(LAUGHTER)

You don't -- you don't rush Stevie Wonder. So pardon our delay. But thank you, thanks so much, Jill. Thank you for that kind introduction. But more importantly, thank you for your leadership and service.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I love Joe Biden.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: You too.

M. OBAMA: I love Jill a little bit more.

(LAUGHTER)

But I want to thank you both, you know, for making this journey so much more fun. Our families have bonded and this has just been a phenomenal four years. And I'm ready to do four more with both of you.

BIDEN: Four more.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA: And most of all, I want to thank all of you here tonight for everything, everything that you've done to bring this inauguration to life.

This weekend has been such a wonderful celebration for our people and for the future and we know that none of it could have happened without all of you and that's why it was so important for all of us to be here and to spend sometime with you.

So this weekend, as we look ahead to the next four years, we should absolutely take some time to truly enjoy these next few days. Right? I mean, the last one was kind of fast. So we've all agreed that we're going to take some time to just breathe in and enjoy it. But let's also remember that this inauguration is about more than all of the events that we will all enjoy this weekend.

It's about more than swearing in a president. It's about more than what we accomplish together over the next four years. It's also about the opportunities we have to make a real difference in people's lives.

I mean, the truth is it --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

It's about our opportunity to continue to lift up our families, to help more of our children achieve their dreams and to put our country on a solid foundation, not just for these next few years, but for generations to come. So tonight, let us rededicate ourselves to that work. Let us keep building on the progress that we've made and let's keep working and fighting and pushing forward.

B. OBAMA: Forward.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) M. OBAMA: Forward.

B. OBAMA: Forward.

M. OBAMA: Forward. To make the real changes that's happened and that's what this man, my husband, has been doing for these last four years.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And let me tell you. It has just been a true thrill to watch this handsome, charming individual grow into the man and the president that he is. We have seen him every single day. His integrity. His character. His sense of humor.

(LAUGHTER)

His compassion. His courage. And no matter what the obstacles, we have seen him be so steady facing the challenges that lie ahead. And as always, held true to one unwavering belief and that is that we love this country and we can all work together to change it.

So ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honor and pleasure to welcome the love of my life and our president for the next four years, Barack Obama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Love you.

B. OBAMA: Hello, everybody.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Good evening. Now, first of all, I love Michelle Obama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And to address the most significant event of this weekend, I love her bangs. She looks good. She always looks good. You know, as president, you make a lot of important decisions. Probably the most important decision is who's going to be your partner during the course of your presidency. And, you know, there have been some decisions I got right. Some maybe folks might question. But one decision I know was absolutely correct, absolutely spot on was my choice of vice president.

I could not have a better partner than Joe Biden and Joe Biden couldn't have a better partner than Dr. Jill Biden. We love these folks. Give them a round of applause.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Now some of you may have heard the story of Andrew Jackson's inaugural reception. Partygoers got so rowdy they broke several thousands dollars worth of White House China. So my first big thank you tonight is to the National Building Museum for hosting us.

(LAUGHTER)

Here. I also want to thank the source for their outstanding entertainment, the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And a guy who has been known to make pretty good music, Mr. Stevie Wonder.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I'm delivering another speech tomorrow. So tonight I'm going to be pretty brief because, you know, there are limited amount of good lines and you don't want to use them all up tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

My main purpose tonight is just to say thank you. And as I look out on the room, we've got people from every walk of life. Every corner and nook and cranny of this country. Every state, every city, every suburb.

People who have invested so much heart and soul, time, money, energy. You know, one of the things that made this campaign unique was the degree of investment and ownership people had in this common project of ours. Because you understood this was not just about a candidate. It was not just about Joe Biden or Barack Obama.

This was about us. Who we are as a nation. What values we cherish. How hard we're willing to fight to make sure that those values live not just for today but for future generations. All of you here understood and were committed to the basic notion that when we put our shoulders to the wheel of history, it moves. It moves. It moves forward.

(APPLAUSE)

And that's part of what we celebrate when we come together for inauguration. You know, yesterday Americans in all 50 states took part in a National Day of Service. Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands will join us in the National Mall. And what the inauguration reminds us of is the role we have as fellow citizens in promoting a common good. Even as we carry out our individual responsibilities. The sense that there's something larger than ourselves that gives shape and meaning to our lives.

Now the theme of this year's inauguration is "Our People and Our Future." Throughout my career what's always given me energy and inspiration and hope, what's allowed me to stand up when I've been knocked down, are folks like you.

The decency, the goodness, the resilience, the neighborliness. The patriotism. The sense of duty. The sense of responsibility of the American people. You have inspired me throughout. And so whenever I think about the challenges that Joe and I, and Jill and Michelle face, we know that we stand amongst friends and colleagues and fellow citizens. And that the work is not just ours that we are working together.

So I just want to say thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And I want all of you to know that even as we celebrate over the next couple of days, and feel free to stay up as late as you want, tomorrow's not a school night. Make sure to bundle up, although it won't be as cold as it was four years ago.

Make sure you know that what we're celebrating is not the election or swearing-in of a president. What we're doing is celebrating each other and celebrating this incredible nation that we call home. And after we celebrate, let's make sure to work as hard as we can to pass on an America that is worthy not only of our past but also of our future.

God bless you guys. I love you. We'll see you tomorrow.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)