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Presidential Inauguration Post-Luncheon Remarks

Aired January 21, 2013 - 14:30   ET


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER, CHAIRMAN, INAUGURAL COMMITTEE: OK. I am now pleased to invite my colleague, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to the podium to present the mementos that you all will receive as you leave statuary hall.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman Schumer and Co-Chair, Vice Chair Alexander for a wonderful, wonderful inauguration. Mr. President, Mr. President, Mr. President, first lady, first lady, first lady, Dr. Biden, to all of our distinguished guests, so far you have heard of gifts to the president and the vice president. I'll tell you about a gift for you.

Freedom now stands on the dome of the capitol of the United States. May she stand there forever not only in form but in spirit. Those were the words that were expressed 150 years ago by the commissioner of public buildings as the Statue of Freedom was placed atop the capitol during the presidency of President Lincoln.

That expression of the spirit of freedom is what we want you to take with you today and is contained in portfolio that says you will receive from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, along with a framed depiction of the capitol as it appeared at the start of the civil war.

You heard it well described by Chairman Schumer during his remarks. Today, the Statue of Freedom and that spirit of freedom watches over the capitol as another president from Illinois takes -- has taken the oath of office.

Despite the challenges of our time at home and abroad, we heard in President Obama's inaugural address a message of hope, a vision of peace, progress, and prosperity, and the promise of freedom for all.

May God bless you, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and your families. Congratulations with wishes for much success for you, for that is the success of our nation. May God bless you all. May God bless America. Enjoy the remainder of your day.

SCHUMER: Mr. President and Dr. Biden and your whole wonderful family, I now rise to toast the vice president of the United States and my former colleague and my friend, Joe Biden. Mr. Vice President, you have been an extraordinary leader of this nation and a true partner to our president these past four years.

You play many roles -- adviser, advocate, implementer, persuader, strategist, and most important of all, friend. We're confident this unique partnership between you and our great president will only grow stronger and more productive over the next four years.

Mr. Vice President, on the surface we don't share a common ancestry. But on a deeper level we do share a common story, an American story of achieving our dreams thanks to the sacrifice of our immigrant forbearers.

As you embark on your well-deserved second term in the spirit of those who came before us, and on behalf of all Americans, we offer you all our support and warmest wishes, and we say to you slainte, l'chaim, salud, and cheers, to our great Vice President.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Mr. President, and all the presidents assembled, I -- I always enjoyed this lunch more than anything we did in the capitol. For the 36 years I served in the Senate, I had the great honor of being included in this lunch of former presidents and vice presidents, because it really is -- it really is the place where we get together in a way unlike any other time when we gather.

It's always a new beginning every time we're in this room. And there is a sense of possibilities and a sense of opportunity and a sense sometimes that is fleeting, but a sense that we can really begin to work together. And Chuck, we may come from different ancestries, but as all our colleagues know over the years, we're cut from the same cloth.

That is we share that same common absolute conviction that was expressed by Harry Truman when he said "America was not built on fear, America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand."

That's what you've done throughout your career. And that's what almost everyone in this room has done. At the end of the day, it's an absolute confidence, absolute confidence there is not a thing, a single thing this country can't do. I spent too much time with all of you not to know you feel it with every fibre in your being that there is nothing, nothing this country is incapable of.

I must say the president kids me occasionally. I know Harry Reid always calls me a senate man. I am proud to have been a Senate man. I am proud to be president of the Senate. But that pride is exceed only by the fact I'm proud to be vice president of the United States, serving as Barack Obama's vice president.

It's great privileges -- great privileges of my life. As a matter of fact, if the president will forgive me, as we were walking out and he was, as we said, savouring the moment, looking out at the crowd and all those Americans assembled, I found myself, surprised me even, turned to him and said thank you, thanks.

Thanks for the chance. Thanks for the chance to continue to serve. And so, folks, I raise my glass to a man who never, never, never operates out of fear, only operates out of confidence, and I'm toasting you, Chuck, and a guy, a guy who I plan on working with. You can't get rid of me, man. Remember, I'm still part of the Senate. God bless you, Chuck. You've done a great job. Lamar, you as well, to Chuck Schumer. Good to see you, pal.

SCHUMER: The best parts of thee events are unscripted. I'd now like to introduce our Senate majority leader, my good friend and really foxhole buddy, a great man, Harry Reid to offer the official toast to the president.

SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Americans today are wishing the president god speed for the next four years. People all over the world are looking at us and our exemplary democracy and wishing the president the best in the years to come.

I've had the good fortune for the last many years to work on very close, personal basis with President Obama. I watched him, the most difficult challenges that a person could face. I've watched him do this with brilliance, with patience, with courage, wisdom, and kindness for which I have learned a great deal.

So Mr. President, I toast and pray for you, your wonderful family, and our great country, four more successful years, Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Michelle and the Speaker of the House came to a meeting of the minds that I may be delaying the proceedings to much. And so I'm just going to be extraordinarily brief and say thank you.

To my vice president, who has not only been an extraordinary partner but an extraordinary friend, and to Dr. Jill Biden, who has partnered with my wife with an extraordinary generosity on behalf of our men and women in uniform.

To the entire cabinet that is here, I'm grateful to you. Some of you are staying and some of you are leaving, but I know the extraordinary sacrifices you have made to try to advance the progress in this country, and I'm always going to be grateful to you for that.

To the Speaker of the House and Nancy Pelosi, to Democratic Leader Harry Reid as well as Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and to all the congressional leaders and all the members of Congress who are here, I recognize that democracy is not always easy, and I recognize there are profound differences in this room.

But I just want to say thank you for your service, and I want to thank your families for their service because regardless of our political persuasions and perspectives, I know that all of us serve because we believe that we can make America for future generations.

And I'm confident that we can act at this moment in a way that makes a difference for our children and our children's children. I know that former President Carter, President Clinton, they understand the irony of the presidential office, which is the longer you're there, the more humble you become.

And the more mindful you are that it is beyond your poor powers individually to move this great country. You can only do it because you have extraordinary partners and a spirit of good will, and most of all, because of the strength and resilience and fundamental goodness of the American people.

And so I would like to join all of you not only in toasting the extraordinary work that Chuck Schumer and Lamar Alexander and others have done to create this special day for us, but I also want to thank each and every one of you for not only your service in the past, but hopefully your service in the future as well.

And I would like to offer one last toast, and that is to my extraordinary wife, Michelle. There is controversy about the quality of the president. No controversy about the quality of our current first lady. Cheers. Thank you, everybody. God bless you and God bless America.

SCHUMER: OK, now that everyone is standing, you can remain standing because it's my privilege to introduce the -- his eminence, Archbishop Demitrius to deliver the benediction.

ARCHBISHOP DEMITRIUS: Thank you for the extraordinary and unique honor bestowed upon me to my humble person to offer the benediction. It is the greatest honor in my life. Let us pray as we prepare to go forth in peace, confident in America's bright future.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all God of all, we give thanks to you and praise you on this day as did our first president on the day of his inauguration, for we too resolved once more to the benign parent of the human race in humble supplication, in the words of President Washington.

We bless and praise your holy name for your gracious favor and divine blessing upon these United States of America, our President Barack Obama, and Vice President Joseph Biden as they commence the second term of their sacred responsibilities in the highest office of our country.

Bless, preserve, and keep them and their families safe and healthy together with all who serve our nation, especially the Congress, the judiciary, and the armed forces here and everywhere who heroically and sacrificially defend our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

Heavenly Father, may we ever abide in this land of opportunity and freedom in perfect tranquillity, faithful to our foundations and ever building a more prosperous, just, equitable society for all our citizens. And may we always share our faith and hope for the future with the whole world through your divine and gracious love, amen.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The benediction by the Archbishop Demetrius of America. This wraps up the luncheon, Chuck Schumer, the chairman of this Inauguration Committee, Lamar Alexander, the co-chairman, they've done what they're supposed to do, historically, traditionally.

A beautiful, moving event representing all the branches of the United States government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches of the government. The president and the first lady and the vice president and the second lady, they'll be going from statuary hall.

They'll be going to take a look at Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. statue in the capitol then they'll be reviewing some military troops. They'll also begin what is historic tradition, going back to President George Washington, a parade on this inauguration day, a parade from Capitol Hill, all the way to where I am right now in front of the north lawn of the White House, the reviewing stand.

The parade, it's about to begin. We'll have live coverage, every float, every band. You'll want to see it. Don't go away.


BLITZER: The president is going to be taking a look at the statue together with the first lady of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in the United States. You're looking at the capitol. This is the rotunda of the U.S. capitol.

Dana Bash is inside as well. Dana, tell us where the statue is and what we're going to see.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, the president is going to walk out of the door to -- from statuary hall, which is where we just saw him. And he is going to walk just to his right. Over my right shoulder, that is the statue of Martin Luther King Jr.

We understand he is going to take a moment there to honor him, to reflect, and to think about him and this day, which is, you know, honoring him, Martin Luther King, as well as the president, of course, since his inauguration. He is going to do that before he takes off.

One other interesting tidbit that I wanted to give you when talking about the lunch and that is this is a big ceremony. But it's also an important day in history that there are people here who spent a lot of time trying to preserve it.

And four years ago, that included saving the actual plate that the president -- the place setting actually that the president ate from, unclear if they're going to do it the second time. But that is the kind of detail that they do right after everybody clears out of there.

They take everything, they save it, because they understand the curator told me, 200 years from now they want to make sure that these things are preserved for history and for the future.

BLITZER: I hope they have a really, really excellent warehouse over there where they can store all these archives, all these historic traditions. I want to see the president and the first lady, the vice president, the second lady when they go and pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

That is the rotunda where that statue, especially on this special day. Kate Bolduan is here, Jeffrey Toobin is with us as well. Kate, you know, it's totally appropriate I think and it's been so significant for so many people across the country. That on this inauguration of the first African-American president of the United States, re-elected for a second term, it happens to coincide with Dr. Martin Luther King Day in the United States.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Reverend Jesse Jackson was reflecting on the significance of it and really the symbolism that was not lost on the president either, who spoke about it during his inaugural speech today. It was a very touching moment.

I thought that was one moment we haven't talked much about when he referenced Martin Luther King and his hard work in his speech. But yes, I mean, I think it really kind of wraps up, as you and David Gergen and I were talking about earlier during the ceremony on the west front of the capitol.

It's the past, it's the present, it's the future all coming together in this kind of grand moment in our democracy, and the fact that it also has this rich symbolism that Dr. Martin Luther King was honored on this day as well, is a very wonderful thing.

BLITZER: Here comes the president and the first lady. Let's just watch as he goes and pays tribute to Dr. King.

All right, so the president with the Speaker and Nancy Pelosi. They're now walking through statuary hall. Dana Bash is there. Dana, you're there on the scene of the rotunda. What happens now? He does a little military review?

BASH: That's right. He is actually right in front of me, Wolf. So I can tell you as I watch him, I can tell you what he is doing. He is just chitchatting with not only the Democrats, but the Republicans, Eric Cantor, John Boehner.

This is an image that you really don't see very often, almost never. Obviously, this is an incredibly special day, and this is I like to say a nonpartisan day. But that image is somebody who runs around these hallways all day and hears a lot of bickering.

It's nice to see, and nice to see that image. So now the president is going to have a ceremony as he leaves, and then it's parade route time. So we're going to see some fun and games after the ceremony. And the solemn moment that we just saw.

It was a little bit hard to hear -- actually, it was very hard to hear, but it was clear, and I'm going to ask Eric Cantor, I'm going to talk to him in a little bit what they were saying.

But they were having an interesting conversation about Martin Luther King, they meaning the president, the vice president and others who were standing there. So we were almost a fly on the wall, and hopefully, we'll get more information what they were talking about.

BLITZER: We look forward to that, Dana. This is a great, great shot of the rotunda where the president was, and now he is going to be doing what they say is a review of the troops, thanking the men and women of the United States military before he gets in that motorcade and begins that drive down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House.

At some point, Jeffrey Toobin, he's going to get out of that motorcade and he is going to walk. We assume he is going to walk. The first lady is going to walk a little bit. That's really the exhilarating moment. People have been waiting for hours and hours and hours on both sides, on both sides of the Pennsylvania Avenue.

They've been waiting for -- you know what? Let's take a little break, because I want to show our viewers exactly every step of the way. We'll take a quick break. You'll see it during the commercial as well, but stand by.


BLITZER: Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation's capital. Pennsylvania Avenue going from Capitol Hill to the White House, this is where the presidential motorcade will be. The president and the first lady will be leaving momentarily.

Right now, he is about to do a little review of the troops on Capitol Hill, then he'll get in the motorcade and begin the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. You'll see the president walking down these steps. That's where the military review will take place. He will salute the men and women of the United States military, totally, totally appropriate.