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Gearing up for the Presidential Inauguration

Aired January 21, 2013 - 11:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This re-election was in some way a validation for him and a repudiation of the critics who say he only won the first time because George W. Bush and Republicans were so unpopular.

There are a lot of people around the world who don't get this and, if their governments are letting them see this, whether they live in Iran or they live in China or they live anywhere else in the world, this is something to be proud of and something we take for granted.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And, you know, Anderson, we in Washington, we are so cynical about American politics, but you have to lose a lot of that cynicism today when you sit here and you watch hundreds of thousands of people out on the Mall celebrating democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the 42nd president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Hello. Hey. How are you? Hi. Nice to see you. How are you?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: David Maranis, you have written a lot about Bill Clinton. For him, I mean, he loves this. He loves this.

DAVID MARANIS, AUTHOR, "BARACK OBAMA - THE STORY": He lives for this. He would like to live for it again another four years from now, I'm sure.

But, you know, it is interesting. His second inaugural, 1996, Barack Obama was just starting his political career. That was the year he was elected to the Illinois senate and, now, he is enjoying Barack Obama's second term and I think that they've had this sort of needy relationship this year which has served them both very well.

COOPER: What is their real relationship like? Does it surprise you that they haven't been invited over for dinner?

MARANIS: No, it doesn't because he hasn't invited that many people over for dinner. And, you know, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama do not necessarily have to get along personally, but they've got along professionally very well this year. It will always be an uneven relationship based on how they need each other and what the circumstances are. Obviously, politically, they're both, I would call, pragmatic liberals. They're not that far apart in politics.

But politics does strange things to people in terms of what their political needs are at that moment. And, so, there have been times when they have been very far apart when Clinton's staff in particular has been very rough on Obama.

And there are times when Obama didn't want to be around Clinton. But, this last year, it just meshed perfectly. They needed each other and they helped each other.

BORGER: I mean, one would argue that, at the Democratic convention, Bill Clinton made the case for Barack Obama better than Barack Obama did.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They say in a way the president could never have made for himself. They argue only Clinton could say that about (INAUDIBLE).

MARANIS: It's a lot easier when you are an ex-president

YELLIN: But you say it so beautifully, David, when you talk about the difference in the political behavior of Bill Clinton and President Obama, that Clinton is a transactional politician in the way Obama could never be.

MARANIS: Bill Clinton's recreation is politics. That's what he does in his time off.

BORGER: That's his life. That's what he enjoys. And the question is, looking at his wife, she's different. I think he enjoys it more than my other human being in the history of the world.


COOPER: You also have hearings for Benghazi coming up that Hillary Clinton will be testifying in front of.

YELLIN: And she - you know, I think she's prepared for that and she will hold her own there. It is not, though, an ideal way for her to end her tenure.

She had this globetrotting, history-making record there as this, you know, secretary of state who did, you know, this public diplomacy in a way no one else had and then she wraps it up on this odd note, getting sick and then having to appear before Congress before the very end.

So, sort of an unfortunate way for her to wrap it up and, yet, I think in the grand scale she'll be remembered for what she did in the years before this.

COOPER: It is ...

MARANIS: ... treated pretty well. Don't forget that she was very popular in the Senate, including among the Republicans.

YELLIN: Respected, yes.

BORGER: She's known for doing her homework. I mean, Hillary Clinton, when she was in the Senate, first lady, was known as somebody who studied for the part. She was ...

COOPER: There's Beau Biden, carrying the bible down the stairs. It is the Bible that the vice president will use to be sworn in. It's the family bible.

BORGER: What a big bible.

COOOPER: It is extraordinary, John King, when you think about - I mean, for people, again, watching around the world, the fight between Hillary Clinton when she was running against then Senator Barack Obama, to think that she would then take the job as secretary of state. I mean, at the time during that race, during the most vitriolic part of it, it was unthinkable, I think, for many on her staff.

KING: And, Jan (ph) - and I think Hillary Clinton early on was underestimated in this regard, somebody who was part of her husband's campaign and a very controversial first lady in Arkansas when she wanted to use her own maiden name, Hillary Rodham Clinton, watched her husband lose ...

COOPER: That's Eva Longoria there on the left.

KING: One of the celebrities up there and a key Latino, part of the Latino outreach for this president.

She watched, remember -- Bill Clinton would tell you the best thing that ever happened to him was losing his first re-election battle as governor to Frank White in Arkansas. It humbled him and it taught him that he couldn't always get his way.

She knows a lot about politics. She's a loyal Democrat in addition to a warrior, if you will, and, you know, initially, could you see that partnership in the days and the weeks after the campaign? No.

So, now, you have seen, again, will they be best of friends? I doubt it. But a very good relationship.

COOPER: Speaking of Joe Biden, (INAUDIBLE).

For many down here, far away down on the National Mall, there's not that many video screens around, so many in the crowd cannot really see what is going on. They can sort of hear it over the loudspeaker, but they can't actually see it.

Wolf Blitzer, from where you are, obviously, people have a much better vantage point.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are right near -- we did - when you look behind me, you can see what's going on over there, but it's - it's an amazing scene up here on Capitol Hill on this front of the United States Capitol. It is jam-packed as we get ready for the next introduction.

We just saw the Bidens being introduced. The Obama family, David Gergen, they're about to introduce Malia, Sasha, Mrs. Marian Robinson, the president's mother-in-law. They will be introduced momentarily.

Then there'll be some more introductions. Dr. Jill Biden will be introduced. And then the speaker of the House, the majority leader, more members of the family, the first lady.

This is a very, very carefully orchestrated, David, event right now. Every second, literally, has been structured time to make sure it goes through the pomp and ceremony that it deserves.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And it is planned down to the moment. They have people come out and practice it. First family is well-informed.

One has a sense that there is a different Barack Obama taking the oath. He does look more confident, coming here today.

You know, there was a great sense -- this great sense of hope and sort of novelty when he first came, but here he comes. He's very much in command, it seems, today.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He knows -- he's not just walking into it. He knows what the past four years have done and we've read it. You know, we have many people - oh, we're going this right now, David and Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, here comes Sasha and Malia. They're walking in right now with Mrs. Robinson. Caitlin O'Neill, the chief of staff to the minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, is escorting them in.

By the way, we have just learned that Eric Shinseki, the secretary of veterans affairs, is the member of the cabinet who will not be here because of -- they always leave someone out, God forbid, if something horrible were to happen here.

All right, David, we are about to hear the speech from the president after he is sworn in by the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts.

What does he need to do, David? You worked for four American presidents. What does he need to do in this 20-minute speech that is about to take place?

GERGEN: I want go back to something Jessica Yellin reported earlier on and that was, in talking to the White House aides, that he would like to reset the conversation. That was a phrase she used.

And it does seem to me. if they can do that in a city that's dysfunctional, and it's especially fitting in some ways that the president comes to the Congress to make that speech, can we reset the conversation? And I wonder if the coffee this morning, the bipartisan coffee, was not intended to sort of begin that resetting. So, we'll see.

I think, if he can get that theme, that's much more important to do that than to get the (INAUDIBLE). This is about poetry, not about programs.

BOLDUAN: I've also heard that the second inaugural is a response to the first. Do you think that is what we will hear today?

GERGEN: I think it will be response to the first term.


GERGEN: And the fact that, as David was saying and Gloria was saying earlier, that there's not the same sense of crisis this time.

There is more of a sense of opportunity, but also a realism about how hard it is to get things done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen ...

BLITZER: Listen to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the daughters of the president, Malia Obama and Sasha Obama. Also, Mrs. Marian Robinson.

BLITZER: You know, it is so nice to see these two daughters of the president and the first lady because, you know, we have seen them grow up over these past four years.

BOLDUAN: It's been really amazing to watch them grow up in the White House. I mean, look how tall they've grown, Wolf, for one thing. I mean, both of their parents are very tall, but just you seen the sense where they really kind of shied away from the cameras.

And while Malia does still somewhat and Sasha definitely tends towards the spotlight, you see that they really are quite comfortable in the position that they're in. I think that is a testament to their parents and how they have operated within the White House.

GERGEN: I agree. And the time they have actually spent at might -- on one hand, people say he doesn't socialize enough, but on the other hand, he does spend a lot of time with his daughters.

The two of them, he and Michelle, spend a lot of time with their daughters and it is working. It's seems they have a very good family.

I must say, after a number of first families that seem somewhat dysfunctional in terms of raising their kids, we've had three presidents in a row now, the Clintons and the Bushes and, now, the Obamas who've, I think, done a really good job with their kids.

BLITZER: They certainly have. And, you know, I loved yesterday after the president was sworn in in the private ceremony which we all saw live here around the world and he hugged his two girls. And here comes some more guests being introduced. Let's see who this is. It's Jill Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, the second lady of the United States.

When little Sasha - there's the picture of her on the screen -- she hugged her dad and --

BOLDUAN: She basically said you didn't mess it up.

BLITZER: You didn't mess it up this time. How cute was that?

BOLDUAN: Very and, you know, I think we do see - I mean, we saw with the kids' inaugural concert, this weekend, I do think that we see a lot of influence that these two girls have had on their parents and kind of what their parents put their focus on.

Because let's also be honest, young people were a big reason why Barack Obama made it into the White House in the first place.

GERGEN: That's right. And what we also know is that one of the things that has affected him emotionally the most over the last year was Sandy Hook.


GERGEN: And it was the loss of those children and relating it to his own daughters made a big, big difference in how he responded. And the whole effort now on gun control I think comes from that deep impact that Sandy Hook had upon him as a father.

BOLDUAN: I mean, it was -- it impacted the country as well.

GERGEN: Yeah, that's right.

BOLDUAN: I mean, it was -- Wolf and I were both there covering it. It was a horrible thing to be there to witness. But did see a change in him when he came to speak to those families and just how deeply it impacted them. That's absolutely right.

BLITZER: The -- if you take a look, next to the girls, Sasha and Malia, you can't see her now, but Mrs. Marian Robinson, the mother-in- law of the president, she's played a really critical role in helping to raise these girls.

She lives in the White House with the first family and she's really been deeply involved in almost every aspect of their lives and it's a nice thing to see.

Anderson, I've got to tell you. Here up on Capitol Hill, it's very exciting.

Let's listen to the introduction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... accompanied by Mrs. Alexander, Mrs. Boehner, Mrs. Cantor, assistant secretary of the Senate, Sheila Dwyer, and deputy clerk of the House of Representatives, Robert Reeves. BLITZER: Dr. Jill Biden being introduced. She is walking down. Exciting moment for her as well.

Anderson, I was saying we're close up here. It's pretty exciting. You're a little further away. The crowd is pretty jam-packed, I've got to tell you.

COOPER: It is jam-packed, really all down the National Mall and, even those who can't see very up-close what's happening, there's a lot of excitement, a lot of people waving flags, milling around, talking to each other, just happy to be here, happy to witness history in the making.

So many people from all around the country wanted to be here on this day. And, as John King pointed out, the crowd is not as large, obviously, as they were four years ago but they are standing shoulder to shoulder, eager to see Vice President Biden and President Obama introduced and probably also to see - I know there are a fair number of people in the crowd who are looking forward to hearing Beyonce perform the national anthem.

KING: A little bit of politics and policy, a little bit of celebration and entertainment and, perhaps as this Mall fills in, perhaps the crowd will - there's the first lady right there coming out.

Perhaps the crowd will surprise law enforcement officials who said it would be significantly smaller than the first time around because this Mall, at least behind us - we don't know what it looks like on the other end because we're blocked in here, it's very impressive, very impressive.

And I'm just struck, watching the two daughters with the contagious smiles up there. They're poised in their presence.

I spoke to President-elect Obama a few days before his first inauguration and he was talking about that being such a huge concern. What would their lives be like? Could they have normal lives as children?

And I think, as David Gergen and Wolf and Kate were just talking about, it seems, as parents, give them an A-plus. You see Malia around town sometimes with her friends from school, with one or two of their Secret Service agents kind of trailing behind in a baseball cap and hiding, letting them have a normal life, letting them go to restaurants - her, the older one -- letting her go out to shops with her friends.

And I give them a big "so-far-so-good" on that one.

COOPER: They have worked very hard to protect their kids and also raise up their kids, having dinner each night. President Obama talked about not letting their kids be on Facebook at this point. They're allowed two hours of television a week. But really the family is extraordinarily strong. BORGER: In a way, just in looking at these pictures, it seems that they've grown up before our eyes. We don't get to see them a lot and focus on them, so, when we look at them now, we think, oh, my God, they've gotten so tall. They've grown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially Malia. I mean, she is as tall as her mom. Her mom is not short. I mean, if you have been around the first lady, even when she's wearing flats, usually one of the taller people in the room.

And, now, her daughter is as tall as she. I think that was just shocking.

COOPER: Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... accompanied by secretary of the Senate, Nancy Erickson, clerk of the House of Representatives, Karen Haas, Mrs. Schumer, Mrs. Reid, Mr. Pelosi.

COOPER: Michelle Obama, who just turned 49, recently, changed her hair style, obviously, been remarked on. We see her with her brother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Princeton colors.

BORGER: The girls look cold and they're dancing.

YELLIN: Anderson, if we could talk just for a moment about the speech, one of the messages we have been talking about today is the recognition of the Democratic values that we recognize on inauguration day and that we all should pause and appreciate the ritual and ceremony today.

That's a message I expect to hear from the president. One of the messages I think he is going to convey is, in a time of partisanship and in a time when our nation is dealing with a bitterness and a sense of division, one of the themes that unites us and connects us from past to present and future is our shared belief in the principles that founded America, in our shared faith and this idea of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and that it's our commitment to what founded America that helps us connect and move forward.

And I think he'll talk about this idea that we don't have to agree on everything in order to move forward on a few ideas. And - so, we should -- we should set aside our disagreements to make some deals on those few things we do agree on right now.

COOPER: As we wait to hear Vice President Biden introduced, Gloria, you recently had you the chance to interview the vice president. Clearly, here is somebody who could very well easily be looking at 2016 and a run for the presidency.

BORGER: Right, though I will say he's not giving it away, whether he is. And, you know, we will show you some of this interview after the swearing in, but it seems to me that the vice president has found his zone, if you will, inside of this White House now because, as much as the president dislikes the two-and-fro with the members of Congress, it's heaven for Joe Biden.

COOPER: Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the vice president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden, accompanied by inaugural coordinator for the joint congressional committee on inaugural ceremonies, Kelly Fado, Senate deputy sergeant-at-arms, Martina Bradford, House deputy sergeant-at-arms, Kerri Hanley, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

COOPER: Jill Biden on the left, clapping for her husband, and President Obama approaching.

David Maranis, you talked about it four years ago, how he really didn't have the opportunity to kind of enjoy this day and really take it in. Do you think today is much different for him?

MARANIS: I really do. I think that the last -- ever since the election on November 6th, I think he's had a new sensibility about what it means, what he's done, and I think he's now taking it in a very different way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you can really see it on his face, you know? He was aging by the minute, it seems, for four years and, now, he looks to me five years younger. I think, you know, the fact that he ...

MARANIS: He's dying his hair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard from presidential adviser David Axelrod not long ago, he said the president was in good spirits. enjoyed the worship service this morning, but was still working on his remarks, using every minute you can to get this just right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To get it just right.

MARANIS: That's the orange and black of Oregon State, the coach's scarf.

COOPER: David, how much does this president in a second term think about his legacy?

MARANIS: Every president thinks about their legacy. And, of course, he is spending more time than -- in sort of untraditional ways doing it by meeting with presidential historians every now and then to really talk about what it means to establish a legacy and how he can do it.

So, you know, he studied second terms. He said he was familiar with the literature of it. He reads a lot and, so, I think he thinks about it more.

And he's honest about it. Bill Clinton used to say he wasn't thinking about it, but, of course, every president is.

BORGER: I mean, one of the first remarks he made at his post-election press conference was "I'm familiar with the literature about second- terms presidents, about overreach."

COOPER: Look at that scene of all those people there, all those flags waving. That is what the president will see as he stands up to take the oath of office, an extraordinary setting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not all presidents are given moments where they can actually build a legacy. You know, Bill Clinton ended up being a president during the "Pax Romana." It was a time of peace and not that much turbulence.

This president has the challenges that will test him and will put him in history for good or ill.

COOPER: Yes. The crowd behind us is basically shoulder to shoulder, people standing all the way up, all the way through to the Capitol, even people ...

Let's listen in as the president is introduced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States, Barack H. Obama accompanied by staff director for the joint congressional committee on inaugural ceremonies, Jean Parvin Bodewich, Senate sergeant-at-arms, Terrence W. Gainer, the House sergeant-at- arms, Paul Irving, chairman of the joint congressional committee on inaugural ceremonies, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Senator Lamar Alexander, the speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi.

BORGER: ... (INAUDIBLE) of what Joe Biden was just saying to the president, whether it was a little -- brought a smile to his face. They seemed to be bantering a bit will.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit like the family that has had issues throughout the year, but at least they come together for Thanksgiving. It's a nice moment to see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think, though -- I think that they have both really found, to your point, Gloria, they both (INAUDIBLE).

I look at Joe Biden as a sort of more friendly LBJ and this is JFK and there it is.

BORGER: Here's Bill Clinton.

COOPER: I think everybody on that platform is so thrilled to be there and have that unique vantage point. It is a seat that few people could ever even imagine having.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, also, you just saw flash there of Myrlie Evers, you know, the widow of Medgar Evers. Medgar Evers could have been as big as Dr. King, gunned down in front of his family. And she was not able to get here for the march on Washington (INAUDIBLE) Her husband...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the honorable Charles E. Schumer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... for the Evers family.

SEN. CHARLES E. SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, all who are present and to all who are watching, welcome to the Capitol and to this celebration of our great democracy.

Now, this is the 57th inauguration of an American president and no matter how many times one witnesses this event, its simplicity, its innate majesty and, most of all, its meaning, that sacred yet cautious entrusting of power from we the people to our chosen leader never fails to make one's heart beat faster and as it will today with the inauguration of President Barack H. Obama.

Now, we know that we would not be here today were it not for those who stand guard around the world to preserve our freedom. To those in our armed forces, we offer our infinite thanks for your bravery, your honor, your sacrifice.

This democracy of ours was forged by intellect and argument, by activism and blood and, above all, from John Adams to Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Martin Luther King, by a stubborn adherence to the notion that we are all created equal and that we deserve nothing less than a great republic worthy of our consent.

The theme of this year's inaugural is faith in America's future. The perfect embodiment to this unshakable confidence in the ongoing success of our collective journey is an event from our past. I speak of the improbable completion of the Capitol Dome and capping witness with the statue of freedom which occurred 150 years ago in 1863.

When Abraham Lincoln took office two years earlier, the dome above us was a half-built eyesore. Conventional wisdom was that it should be left unfinished until the war ended given the travails and financial needs of the times.

But to President Lincoln, the half-finished dome symbolized the half- divided nation. Lincoln said, "If people see the Capitol going on, it is a sign we intend the union shall go on." And, so, despite the conflict with which engulfed the nation and surrounded the city, the dome continued to rise.

On December 2, 1863, the statue of freedom, a woman, was placed atop the dome where she still stands today. In a sublime irony, it was a former slave, now free American, Philip Reid, who helped to cast the bronze statue.

Now, our present times are not as perilous or as despairing as they were in 1863, but in 2013 far too many doubt the future of this great nation and our ability to tackle our era's half-finished domes.