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Inauguration Day Coverage

Aired January 21, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For we remember the lessons of our past when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult, but America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths, that all of us are created equal, is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forbearers through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall, just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall to hear our preachers say that we cannot walk alone. To hear a king proclaim that our individual freedom is inexplicably bound to the freedom of every soul on earth.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I stopped -- I stopped -- but it continued.

Welcome back to our -- welcome back to our continuing coverage of President Obama's inauguration.

I'm wondering if -- what -- how you think that speech is heard by Republicans as opposed to by progressives? I'm looking at Twitter. A lot of progressives are saying, this is the president who we wanted to have. And I'm hearing from a lot of Republicans saying, that was a speech about big government.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Where was the outreach, they're saying. Where was the outreach? Where was the concession? Where was the humility?

But one thing that is different, the tone from the first inaugural address. Some of the initiatives were similar or carryovers. But he's much more optimistic. We will seize the moment. He feels -- you can tell he feels politically that he's turned a corner.


KING: That he feels that economically the country is turning a corner. We're not quite there yet.

I'm going to get up and walk over, though, because he lays out this agenda, not in the detail today, but some ambition. But there are a lot of things that are going to make it really hard in a second term. And I think that's one of the reasons he was trying to capture the imagination of people outside of Washington because he knows it will be tough inside Washington.

One of the reasons this is going to be hard for the president is if you just do this. Unemployment got up to 10 percent early in his term. But the unemployment rate today, this is when he started, 7.8 percent, 7.8 percent. So there's still a lot of work to do in the economy. But the president remembers these days. And he thinks he's turned a corner. And he's very hopeful that things are going to get better.

One of the other things I want to talk about is, the president talked again about how you have to deal with the big challenges, but he made a very clear statement, he was not going to sacrifice Medicare just to cut a deal with Republicans. The question is, what will he do? Because let's look at this here. Let's play this out.

This is as the baby boom generation ages and retires. Here's where we are now. Beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare. Look where it's going. Look where it's going over the next 10, 20, 30 years. Some president eventually has to deal with this because this is eating up the federal budget, eating up the resources the president wants to spend on education, wants to spend on roads bridges, wants to spend on research and science and technology. So how he handles this, he was not clear today except to make a commitment to not hurt Medicare. But how does he change this spending trajectory without hurting the program.

One of the things the president talked proudly about and one of the things he thinks gives him both political and some financial leeway is this, troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, 180,000 when he took office. Just watch the trajectory, especially as the United States gets out of Iraq and now is preparing to get out of Afghanistan. About 70,000 now. The president hopes by 2014 that number is down completely. And as he talked about in the address, a decade of war will be over.

But the heavy lifts, one of the things he talked about was trying to deal with gun control. These states that are highlighted, these are the states that have the highest deaths -- gun deaths per capita. But here's the interesting part. How does the president sell Republicans and some conservative Democrats in Congress who oppose him, even though he has by and large the support of the American people? This is a CNN/"Time" poll. An assault weapons ban, semiautomatic assault weapons ban, nearly six in 10 Americans are with the president. Still, a very tough sell in Congress.

That high capacity ammunition clip ban, again, nearly 60 percent of Americans. Still opposition among a lot of conservative Republicans and significantly conservative red state Democrats on the ballot in 2014.

Requiring gun registration, that's one where the president might have a little bit more political strength. Putting armed guards in every school, that one drops a little bit. This is something the president has said should be left to the schools, the NRA says should be part of a national plan. It will be interesting given the poll numbers here, they're on the president's side, but the entrenched interest in Washington not on the president's side. We'll see what he does there.

One other thing I want to note. The president talked about how immigrants in this country should not -- should be allowed to go to school and then become the leaders of the next generation, not be deported. Well, remember, it was his administration -- this is the Bush administration here, deportations of illegal immigrants. It was the Obama administration that angered many Latinos, and especially Latino interest groups, by increasing the number of deportations. The president is hoping now that this actually gives him some credibility as he tries to negotiate an immigration reform package with Republicans.

And, Anderson, one of the things we have seen since the election is the Republicans know the math. They see the demographics of this country. They realize they have a crisis. They cannot be a viable national party if they keep getting such a tiny percentage of the Latino vote. So on the immigration issue, loggerheads with the conservative base. Probably some common ground. On the other things, I think one of the reason the president tried to be optimistic and reach outside of Washington is, he knows on the nitty gritty details on almost everything else, tough sell.

COOPER: Yes, a tough sell indeed.

We've got some new folks who have stopped by for our panel. Jack Schlossberg, who's a student at Yale, grandson of John F. Kennedy Jr., joins us, as well as Paula Begala, who is much older and (INAUDIBLE) CNN contributor and Republican consultant.


COOPER: Jack, you had written a while ago on about the enthusiasm young voters had for President Obama.


COOPER: I'm wondering, as you listened to his speech today, what went through your mind?

JACK SCHLOSSBERG, GRANDSON OF JOHN F. KENNEDY: Well, I mean, one thing that struck me, a lot of the people around me were, you know, 20, you know, my age. And it was great to see everyone applauding when he talked about climate change, when he talked about equal pay, when he talked about gay rights. Those are the three biggest applause lines that I think that he got, at least from where I was standing. And it really showed, you know, my generation voted, 19 percent of the electorate -- we were 19 percent of the electorate this last election and 18 percent last time. And I think that, you know, coming out today, applauding for those lines really shows that we're committed to not only this president, but really -- we understand that he -- he understands the problems that we want to address, the challenges that we need to face.

COOPER: Paul, you had written in a "Daily Beast" article, and we talked about it last night, about what you thought the president should do. And you said he should basically give lip service to reaching out, but then go and be ruthless, you know, starting tomorrow. What did you hear? Were you happy with what you heard?

BEGALA: I was thrilled. I was. This president often slips into sort of airy-fairy kumbaya. Oh, we should all just get along. Well, of course we should. But that doesn't get you very far. He did -- he did just that. Yes, he touched on it. He said the right things. But this was a confident, combative communitarisim (ph). It was not political. It was not partisan any more than Ronald Reagan was partisan. It was philosophical.

He said, our -- Reagan said the American myth is the frontier. Heading out alone on our own, we don't -- you know, the rugged individualist. President Obama answered that today with the wagon train. With the community. That we're all in this together. He rooted it in our founders, just like Reagan did with his myth. But he spoke for progressives powerfully. And this was a man itching for a fight. And I'm sure the Republicans will accommodate him.

But I have to say, I think this is what a second inaugural ought to be. He set the bar very high for himself and now he's challenged himself and his party and our country to meet them.

COOPER: Margaret Hoover, from a Republican standpoint, did you hear what a lot of the Republicans seem to have heard, which is a call for big government?

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, President Obama always does the yin yang thing. While on the one hand we're a country of individualists, on the other hand we're a country that depends on community spirit. And somewhere in the middle there in lies the wisdom and the truth.

I think what Paul said last night is, forget the overarching vision, you know, yada, yada, yada. When you hear that tomorrow, don't listen to it. Remember you said that last night. And then just go for the political stuff. Well, frankly, that's what he did. I mean this, I think, was an intensely political speech where he codified really important parts of the coalition, the Democratic Party coalition, and then grounded it in the American political tradition. And in the context of the Declaration of Independence. In other words, he put the Democratic Party -- he like justified the Democratic Party coalition in the context of the American history and the Declaration of Independence.

BORGER: But this is a second term president. And he, to me, in watching him, it was like, we need to act now. I've only got four more years, by the way, and I want to get all of this done. Don't give me everything. I understand it. But you need to know where I am. I mean my question is, his Democrats in Congress are going to be perhaps not as quick to do a lot of the things he wants because they've got to run for re-election. He's the only guy who doesn't, right?

JESSICA YELLIN: The other question, though, is, where is he going to make the mark? It's not clear here. Is it immigration reform?

BORGER: There are opportunities.

YELLIN: Is it --

BORGER: Well, there are lots of opportunities.

YELLIN: But it's -- we -- that is the outstanding question at this point. Initially it looked like he was going to push this year for a major tax and debt overhaul, and that would be his legacy of the second term. Now that doesn't look like that's going to be real.

BORGER: That changed.

YELLIN: So now is it immigration reform? But does he have a Republican Party in partnership that will allow for a sweeping enough immigration package to make that real? That's an unknown.

BORGER: But we didn't hear fiscal cliff discussion, the economy's going to get zooming --

YELLIN: I think --

BORGER: We're going to --

YELLIN: It could be foreign policy.

BORGER: Now --

YELLIN: It could end up being in foreign policy, drawing down troops, transitioning to this new kind of war fighting force with a drone warfare, sort of in keeping with what we're alluding to Eisenhower had.

KING: I think we're going to watch, though, two very different but equally fascinating dramas play out. Inside Washington, the Republicans still have the votes to stop the president on many things. They still control the House. They still have operational gridlock in the Senate, if you will, even though Democrats picked up some (ph). So inside Washington, the president has a challenge.

But if you look at this speech, groundbreaking language on gay rights, back to climate change, gun control, immigration. And who that appeals to, as Jack just said. They have made a doubling down of what they did in the campaign. They believe they have the coalition of the future -- young people, Latinos, African-Americans, and they believe the Republican coalition is aging, in decline, and fractured. So they think politically they have the juice. And he's decided to play his cards. COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. We are waiting for the start of the inaugural parade, of course. That -- we are going to bring that to you live. And for one of the expected highlights, the President and Mrs. Obama walking part of that parade route. Join the conversation on our live blog at Now here's another inaugural flashback.


DORIS KERNS GOODWIN, HISTORIAN: At his inaugural ball, Clinton grabbed the saxophone and played solo. That's a moment that will be remembered.

LBJ, paraphrasing Churchill, said never have so many people paid so much to dance so little.

Grant's ball, it was so cold that the heat wasn't working right. They had to dance in their overcoats.

And yet there is something about the pomp and circumstance that people love to look at the costumes. And even though some of the presidents thought it was better to not spend so much money on them, there's also a fascination as a spectacle to watch these things.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at live pictures of the U.S. Capitol on this sunny but relatively cold day here in the nation's capital. Inside the Capitol, the president still wrapping up his luncheon with top members of the House and the Senate. The speaker of the House will be presenting the president with some flags. The vice president as well. The Republican senator, Lamar Alexander. An official photograph will be presented to the vice president.

Then there will be toasts. Senator Schumer, who is the chairman of the inauguration committee, he'll be offering a toast. The president of the United States will be responding. You will see it, you will hear it, all live here on CNN. We're going inside the Capitol for these historic moments. Stand by for that.

Following the luncheon and the toast, the president and first family, the vice president, his wife and family, they'll get into the motorcade and the parade and they'll go down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Erin Burnett is over at Freedom Plaza, where historically very often presidents get out of their limousine and start walking a bit.

Erin, set the stage for us. This is going to be an historic afternoon.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is and obviously we hope that we will be so lucky, as do all the crowds that are here along Pennsylvania Avenue and Freedom Plaza. I'm here with Brianna Keilar. And something else just happened. Not that it was a viciously cold day, but it was kind of biting out here. And now you're bathed in beautiful sunlight. BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The sun just sort of broke through. We have temperatures here in the mid-40s. And, you know, that's not so bad. It's still a little chilly and certainly all these folks out here have been trying to stay bundled up as they've been waiting for hours, anxiously hoping to catch a glimpse of President Obama. But I think we'll take it. Because, remember, it was Ronald Reagan in 1985 where festivities were actually canceled because the high I think was 17 degrees --


KEILAR: And obviously even lower than that throughout the day. So this is pretty good.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean, I've got to say, it's kind of perfect. And Robin Meade, Don Lemon and Christi Paul are along with us along the parade route.

Robin, I know you were out in the cold of the morning. And a lot of people that we saw here, though, literally, it's been a good day for all the kind of hand warmers and body warmers. Everybody going through security had them in their gloves, in their shoes and in their coats.

ROBIN MEADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are the item of the day, I'll tell you that much. And it --


MEADE: To give you an example of what people here went through, to get through security to go to the parade, to me it felt a little bit different than getting through security to get to the National Mall. It feels more stringent here on the parade route because, if you look, see how close people are able to be to the parade route compared to the blocks and the blocks on the mall. So when we went through security, they asked us -- it was very hands-on. They were -- they took away our diet soda cans. No cans allowed. They asked us to open our jackets. Made us take our hats off. And were going through purses and bags. No umbrellas were allowed. Good thing the sun is shining, right?

So we're right here in front of the U.S. Navy Memorial. And the big question is, will the president get out and walk here as well. I can see some snipers on the roof here. And right over on this side, we have different law enforcement officers actually from around the nation, which is really neat to know. So these folks are from Florida. So when I was like, what street am I at right now? They're like, we don't know, we're from Florida. But they said that right beside them are folks from Phoenix. So people have converged from all over the nation to help out with the security. That does feel stringent right here, even though it feels like a party atmosphere.

Now where I'm at, people have to have tickets to be seated there. But across the street, it's kind of like the first come first serve. How about where you guys are, Erin?

BURNETT: Yes, you know what, I only missed your last couple of words because we keep having helicopters go over us, Robin, which I guess hopefully is a sign that the parade is about to begin in just a few minutes, or at least we hope.

I want to get to Don Lemon. And, Don, let me just say, I -- you know, Robin dressed appropriately and she has the right kind of hat on to stay warm. But I just want to know whether you're wearing your very dapper hat that you had on last night, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I was asked to take it off so you could see me better because I'm way over here in the crowd. Can you see me? I'm here in the crowd where the --

BURNETT: I see you waving. I see a hat.

LEMON: It's way on top of the museum. And I was wearing my Russian hat with the side things for the ears to keep warm.

But as you guys said, the sun came out and it warmed up. So I took my gloves off, I took my hat off. Can you guys hold that for me until I come back? You're a member of the U.S. Air Force. Have a member of the Air National Guard. And we're pretty protected, right, because these are all members, state troopers from different states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I believe we're 240 different agencies, maybe about 3,000 as far as volunteer, you know, law enforcement. And I'm down here with a contingent of Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

LEMON: Oh, cool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there's approximately 300 of us from the Air National Guard. And maybe a thousand or more Army National Guard.

LEMON: Well, Martin, thank you very much. We appreciate you.

We got New Jersey here. We got Ohio. We got a bunch of people.

I'm going to walk -- I'm going to walk -- we're starting here at Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenue. So I'm going to walk here. There is the National Art Museum across from here. The Federal Trade Commission is in front of me. And, of course, the Capitol is back there. This entire route is 1.5 miles, as you guys know. And everyone hopes the president and the first lady will get out and walk where they are. They usually get out at Freedom Plaza.


LEMON: Hi, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're doing good.

LEMON: How are you?

But we're hoping they're going to get out here. So, 1.5 miles. These people have been out here for a long time. We'll be here. If they get out here, I'll be here. We're going to go back to Wolf Blitzer right now. Wolf, take it away.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Don.

The -- take a look at -- you're looking at live pictures. The president hugging Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee there. Wrapped up this luncheon apparently. There's going to be some toasts. There's an official presentation of the photograph as well. The president has been going from table to table. He's been saying hello to varieties folks. Looks like he's speaking -- is that the justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, right on the left part of the (INAUDIBLE).

Jeffrey Toobin is with me, and Kate Bolduan is there.

There's Nancy Pelosi sitting as well. But the president, as he did four years ago, Jeffrey, he's going from table to table, he's greeting folks, he's staying hello. You know, he's been criticized a little bit for not supposedly schmoozing enough with members of Congress. There is Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services. Members of his cabinet are inside the room, as well as the Republican and Democratic leadership and others. You can see the head table over there, the vice president, Joe Biden, sitting there with Dr. Jill Biden.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: That's actually a very interesting lunch pairing right there.

BLITZER: What's nice, Jeffrey, is that you have all three branches of government at this luncheon on Capitol Hill right now.

TOOBIN: It's real -- it's wonderful. And it was actually a very sad occasion four years ago because both Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator Robert --

BLITZER: Hold on, hold on, hold on. The chairman of the inauguration committee, Chuck Schumer of New York, is going to be speaking now. Let's listen in because he's going to be offering a toast.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: And I hope everyone has enjoyed the lunch. I think it's -- I think we really deserve a round of applause to our chef and our cater, all the people who served the meal so expertly. They've done a great job.

So it is now my honor to invite the speaker of the House, the -- John Boehner, to the podium to present the official flags.


Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the old hall of the House. The people's representatives met in this chamber over five decades prior to the civil war. And it's a wonder if they actually made it here that long. You see the acoustics were terrible. You just couldn't hear anything. Or, in some spots, you could hear everything that was being said in the room. To make -- to make it -- it was a mess. And, of course, it was also at a time when our leaders weren't hearing each other all that well to begin with. But here it's a century and a half and many architectural improvements later, and we gather in the old hall to better hear one another and to renew the appeal to better angels.

We do so amid the rituals and symbols of unity, none more important than our flag. Now this year old glory will mark a milestone of her own. It was the spring of 1813 that the new commander at Fort McHenry ordered a flag to be flown over the entrance to Baltimore Harbor. It should be so large, he said, that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance. For such an enormous banner, a mother and daughter team had to stitch together overlapping strips of wool to make the product whole, from many, one.

So a grand flag was born. And not long after that, an anthem to go with it. Today, whenever we put out the flag, whenever we hear it snapping in the wind, it gives us proof of the blessing that we call democracy. This symphony of service and faithfulness in which we will all play a part.

So in the spirit of harmony, I'm proud to present the flags that flew over this battalion of democracy today to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. And to you, gentlemen, I say, congratulations and God speed.

SCHUMER: I am now pleased to introduce my friend and colleague and partner in this inaugural endeavor, Senator Lamar Alexander, to the podium to present the official photographs.


Mr. President and Michelle, Mr. Vice President and Jill, President and Mrs. Clinton, President and Mrs. Carter, Mr. Chief Justice. One former president who's not here today, Honey and I were sitting next to him, George H.W. Bush and Barbara, a few years ago. And before he got up to speak, he leaned over and said to Barbara, Barbara, what should I speak about. And she said in a very loud whisper, about five minutes, George. I'll take about one minute.

There will probably come a time, Mr. President and Mrs. Obama, and to the Bidens, when your children are trying to explain to their grandchildren that this day actually happened. And if those great grandchildren don't believe it, we have pictures. And these pictures are for you. And we wish you the best as you work for that common good that Mr. Cortes spoke about in the invocation, and as you so eloquently talked about in your description of the American character today.

SCHUMER: OK. I would now like to introduce the distinguished majority leader of the House of Representatives, Eric Cantor, to present the Lenox inaugural gifts.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: Good afternoon.

On behalf of the joint congressional committee on inaugural ceremonies, it's my honor to present the President and Mrs. Obama, Vice President and Dr. Biden with these beautiful crystal vases. The vases are the finest quality full lead crystal from Lenox China and Crystal. The images of the United States Capitol and the White House are hand cut and etched into the crystal. The crystal bases on which the vases sit are inscribed with the name of the recipient and today's date. President Obama and Mrs. Obama will receive the vase depicting the White House. Vice President and Dr. Biden will receive the vase depicting the United States Capitol. The vases were designed by Timothy Carter and hand cut by master glass cutter Peter O'Rourke. At this time, my wife Diana and I invite the President and Mrs. Obama and Vice President and Dr. Biden to join us in looking at these beautiful vases.