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THE SITUATION ROOM

Inauguration Day Coverage; Watching the Parade

Aired January 21, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to continue our special coverage. We're now here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

We're continuing to watch the president of the United States, the president of the United States and the first lady. They're now getting closer to where Kate Bolduan, Jeffrey Toobin and I are. We're at the reviewing stand right across from the North Lawn of the White House.

Christi Paul is not that far away.

Christi,where are you?

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm at Madison and Pennsylvania Avenue.

This crowd has been waiting for this because you know the announcer, Charlie Brotman, he is an institution here. I would like to say, he is spitting enthusiasm. He doesn't have that broadcaster's voice that some people might think, but you can hear how excited he felts about this. He's been doing it for years. He keeps telling this crowd, he's been telling them for last hour, we're getting ready, folks, he's almost here. He's on the way.

In broadcasting, that's what we like to call a deep tease. So these folks have been ready and waiting for some time, as we're waiting to see the president come by. I was talking to you earlier about the five branches of the military that are standing here. And they have been standing here since 9:00 this morning in kind of an informal, relaxed pose.

But once some of the bands started coming through and the color guard, that immediately changed. We saw them saluting. And they're now in, you know, a very rigid format, as they're supposed to be, getting ready to salute again as they wait for the president to come. Again, these are folks that are here strictly to honor the president and the vice president and our country.

They are not part of the security forces. But we're just waiting for this crowd to get crazy again because they have been practicing, doing the wave, much at Charlie Brotman's -- he's been really prompting them to get ready, to see who can scream the loudest when the president and the first lady come by.

We, of course, will be hoping they will be getting out of their seats because these are the prime seats that people paid a lot of money for, the blue section. And they have been very patient. But they have also been very enthusiastic.

And I don't know if you have noticed this, Wolf, tell me if you have, and I know you have covered many of these. But we have gone from seeing people with cameras in the stands now to phones in the stands. I'm surprised at how many iPads I see taking pictures. Have you noticed that?

BLITZER: Yes. Everybody's taking pictures. Everybody wants to record this for future generations. They sense that this is history and it is, indeed, history.

Jim Acosta is right in front of the presidential limousine.

Jim, tell us what you're seeing. I think he's making a right turn onto 15th Street, is that right?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's right, Wolf, he's making that right turn on to 15th Street (AUDIO GAP) and where that meets the White House.

And we're hopeful here (AUDIO GAP) the president and the first lady will get out. Can't guarantee it. (AUDIO GAP) But one thing you could say, Wolf, it's good to be the president. It's almost like being a rock star on every street corner in Washington on this day because every time he hits a new intersection, the cheers go up on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue.

For the president, it's just a whole new group of Americans to greet as he makes his way towards the White House. I have to tell you, it's been pretty exciting to watch all of this unfold from the back of this flatbed truck. Every so often, you catch a glimpse just inside the limousine where you can the president when he's inside the limousine where he's inside sort of bathed in that (AUDIO GAP) he's waving to people, and you just kind of get that image in your (AUDIO GAP) image of history as it's unfolding right in front of us here.

BLITZER: Hey, Jim, I think you're breaking up a little bit. As you get closer to the White House, there's more interference. There you see the president, the vice president -- that's the vice president, that's the vice president, with his thumbs, giving a thumbs up to people along both sides.

The vice president and Jill Biden there in their limo, the president and Michelle Obama, the first lady, in their limo. They're getting closer and closer to where we are. They're going up 15th Street. Pretty soon, they will be making a left turn back out to Pennsylvania Avenue. And they will be going right to that reviewing stand right across from where we are.

The military formations have already passed. You can see they're getting ready to receive the president at that the reviewing stand, Kate. This is a specially built reviewing stand. They have spent a lot of time building this reviewing stand, because the president then will want to see each of the marching bands, each of the floats, pay tribute. They all have a significant special meaning for him.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: They all have a significant special meaning. There are eight official floats that will be coming by, some of them honoring Hawaii. There will be a Hawaii state float. There will be an Illinois state float, obviously the state where President Barack Obama was born, and Illinois, the birthplace of the first lady and of course their home state.

A Pennsylvania state float, the birthplace of Vice President Joe Biden, and also a Delaware state float. Delaware, of course, is the home state of Vice President Joe Biden and the second lady, Dr. Jill Biden. So there will be floating honoring their states, but also honoring very significant moments in our history.

There will be a Martin Luther King Jr. float, the float obviously honoring this very day and many other floats...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You see the limos. They're going right by the Department of Treasury, Jeffrey Toobin, right now, the Department of Treasury being literally right next door to the White House.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I'm looking behind us at the reviewing stand. Some of the family members are taking their place. I saw Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother, her brother, Craig Robinson, are now seated waiting for the president and the first lady.

Jim Messina, the campaign manager for Barack Obama, was whipping up the crowd, pumping his fist. When you win the election, this is what you get.

BLITZER: Yes. You saw the president's half-sister sitting in the first row over there. She's come in to see what is going on as well. You have got a lot of family, a lot of friends. These are really -- when we talk about VIP, Jeffrey, these are the VIP of the VIP.

TOOBIN: Yes. This is really good.

Last year -- four years ago, I was in the exact same location. And it was so cold that even though it was a very coveted seat, the people who were not in behind that glass and not in the heated area, they were taking off pretty soon. But today it's nice. Everybody's filling their seats. The weather is really very comfortable.

BLITZER: He's still making his way along the Department of Treasury over there. Pretty soon, that limo's going to be making a left turn and coming up right behind the White House on to the -- right in front of the reviewing stand. The president will go into the White House. And then maybe they will freshen up a little bit before they go out to the reviewing stand.

BOLDUAN: It's always such a special moment when the president and the first lady get out of the beast, the limousine.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: They're stopping right now. Let's see what happens, because remember, four years ago, they did get back out. Let's see if they do get back out.

BOLDUAN: I will tell you, maybe it was just my impression, but as we were watching them walk this time and then the limousines stop for them to get back in, it almost looked like the president himself was not ready to get back in, because he spent some time waving

You do realize from his perspective, this is the last time he's also going to be able to get this. So he had said leaving in that he wanted to soak this up, this whole experience. This is a very special moment for the family as well.

BLITZER: He wants to savor every minute.

All right, the limo has stopped. Let's see what happens. The doors are now open. The Secret Service is getting out. But you know what that means. That means that the president and the first lady, the final 100 yards or so, they're going to walk. They're going to walk into the White House. Big crowds right behind me over here, they are about to go crazy as the president, there he is -- oh, my God, they're going to be so excited.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Wait until they see the president and the first lady walk the final 100, maybe 200 yards, until they have walked into the North Lawn of the White House and they go into that reviewing stand.

BOLDUAN: Wolf, I think this (INAUDIBLE) that we were passing along that the president said as he was leaving the Capitol after the inauguration going back into the Capitol really hits home right now. He said: "I want to take a look one more time. I'm not going to see this again."

And you can say that again right now.

BLITZER: All right, let's listen and watch as the president and the first lady walk towards the White House.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Christi Paul, I hope you can hear me. I know the president's getting very close to where you are. Do you see him?

PAUL: I don't -- oh, yes, actually, I do. He is right behind here obviously the flatbed trucks.

And, Wolf, I don't know if you heard me before, but people are literally jumping up and down in the stands as they see him. They're pointing. They're snapping pictures. They're holding their babies high, so they can see them as well.

I do see the first lady and the president now. You can hear the crowd behind me. You have to wonder what this is like for him. The last time around he did this, it was his first term. You never know if there's going to be a second term. You have to wonder how different it feels this time for him.

Now, I will try to be ambitious here and ask him, but based on the crowd, I don't think he's going to hear me.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Christi, just go for it, shout a question, ask him how he feels, ask him how the first lady feels, especially if he -- he will hear you, he will say something. Go ahead. Go ahead, Christi. Christi, did you...

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: OK, go ahead, Wolf. I think I can hear you now.

BLITZER: Did you shout a question, did he respond?

PAUL: No. He was kind of talking to the crowd as he was walking by, pointing fingers, waving. You can hear the announcer here, Charlie Brotman, as he announces the president and the first lady walking right in the middle of the road there, obviously with the motorcade behind them.

But people are -- it's just so fun to see the reactions in the stands, Wolf, as people go crazy waving. They have got people up here waving flags and, as I said, holding babies and literally jumping up and down, almost like they're at a rock concert.

I think that -- I think it was Jim Acosta who said he's like a rap star with every new block that he gets on. And that was a great analogy. They're just coming up now, Wolf, I think next to you, as they get closer, just a few steps closer. They're just a couple of steps away here from the presidential viewing stand and will be taking their seats.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I see the president right now. He's approaching where we are. I see the president and the first lady. They're right over here with Jeffrey Toobin and with Kate Bolduan.

I'm going to see if I can grab his attention, see if he maybe wants to -- Mr. President.

BOLDUAN: He's not quite hearing you.

BLITZER: He's not going to hear me. It's very, very noisy over here.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Well, you can imagine why.

BLITZER: Yes. He's literally getting closer and closer. He's getting closer to the reviewing stand.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Mr. President, hey, Mr. President, how you doing? Let's see -- let's see if I stand up.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Let's see if the president can see us.

Mr. President.

BLITZER: Mr. President, how you doing? Hey, Mr. President. Mrs. Obama.

I don't know if they see me.

BOLDUAN: I believe Michelle is cheering, yes, we can, as she was just walking past us. They're walking past the reviewing stand right now. Will see where they're heading.

BLITZER: It's a...

BOLDUAN: This is a unique thing even for you, Wolf. You have seen a lot of things.

BLITZER: I saw the first lady. There's the first lady over there.

BOLDUAN: What's this like, Wolf? What do you think?

BLITZER: Well, you know, we're spectators.

BOLDUAN: We sure are.

BLITZER: We're tourists here in Washington.

BOLDUAN: We're making a mess as well. Here, sit down.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I think this is my BlackBerry interfering with this.

BOLDUAN: It's OK. Sit down. What do you make of this whole thing?

BLITZER: Hold on, hold on.

BOLDUAN: OK.

BLITZER: Hold on. I got a lot of static.

All right, we're back in business now. We're back in business. There's the president right now.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: It's a little strange to see what was going on. It was -- look, this is history over here.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And I think it is so great that they get out of the cars. The people deserve to see their president and it is so much better when they're walking --

BLITZER: He seems pretty happy. She seems pretty happy at they get closer and closer. They're going to be walking into the White House and then they're going to go to the reviewing stand, Kate, and enjoy the parade like all of us.

TOOBIN: You know what, Wolf? If you were in political life and this doesn't make you happy, you really picked the wrong profession, because this is really pretty much as good as it gets. Screaming, thousands of people.

BOLDUAN: Right, exactly.

TOOBIN: Beginning your second term as president of the United States. This is -- this is good stuff.

BOLDUAN: I'm just looking back here at some of the fans, the spectators, that are sitting behind us. They're really all just look as if they're pinching themselves. They seem just as surprised as all as we were that the president walked all the way here.

BLITZER: And, Jeffrey, you'll remember, this is Pennsylvania Avenue. He's right in front of the North Lawn of the White House right now, approaching 17th Street, from 15th Street. And remember, this used to be a regular street.

TOOBIN: That's right.

BLITZER: Cars could go by. But after the Oklahoma City bombing, they shut the Pennsylvania down to regular traffic. There's no real traffic. There's Secret Service car that go up and down right now.

BOLDUAN: (INAUDIBLE) those cars right now.

BLITZER: People can walk there, but no more traffic as a result of what happened at Oklahoma City.

TOOBIN: And that was, of course, several years before 9/11 that that -- that was 1994. And the city is less accessible than it used to be.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

TOOBIN: And there's a lot of Washingtonians, I'm not a native, but they really feel very sad that Pennsylvania Avenue is closed. That was part of living in Washington that you could drive by the president's house and you can't do it anymore, although you can walk by. Tourists do it all the time.

BOLDUAN: You can do it all the time.

BLITZER: You can park at 17th and Penn.

TOOBIN: Right.

BLITZER: And go for a walk and walk in front of the north lawn of the White House, walk around, see what's going on.

There's the vice president of the United States watching, waving. They're all pretty excited. And they paved -- they repaved Pennsylvania Avenue, you see how nice it's paved.

TOOBIN: Right.

BLITZER: Because there's no traffic there, it's just basically a pedestrian area where people can go and enjoy the White House. I don't know what, Dr. Jill Biden -- have you seen Dr. Jill Biden?

BOLDUAN: I was just trying to see that. I couldn't see that actually.

So, now, they will at some point make their way to the reviewing stand and then the performances for them shall begin. We know there's a lot ahead. But they really do seem to just kind of be soaking this all in.

BLITZER: I don't know about you but I'm looking forward to the marching bands. Did I mention I'm looking forward to the floats as well?

BOLDUAN: I don't think you mention it enough.

TOOBIN: Wolf, you staked out a clearly pro-float position I think.

BLITZER: Yes, I've --

BOLDUAN: He's very pro float. He's very pro float.

BLITZER: You like the Macy's Day Parade? You're a New Yorker.

TOOBIN: I'm a New Yorker. I like the Macy's a lot. I like the floats.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

TOOBIN: You know, they have big balloons but we're not going to have big balloons.

BLITZER: We'll have nice floats. Very nice patriotic floats. A lot of red, white and blue here at this parade.

BOLDUAN: We may even see a volcano on a float in my research I read.

BLITZER: What's the volcano represent?

BOLDUAN: That will be a Hawaii reference.

BLITZER: Really? That's very exciting.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I am an endless boundless fountain of knowledge on floats this time around.

BLITZER: You've done a lot of research on the floats.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

BLITZER: So far, we haven't seen any of those floats but we will be seeing them.

We'll let our viewers enjoy this parade here. I think it's fair to say this is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM right here.

BOLDUAN: I think it's also fair to say vice President Biden is enjoying himself as well. He sure looked happy. We saw that --

BLITZER: Vice President Biden -- you know this well, Jeffrey, he always seems to be pretty happy.

TOOBIN: They are so different. You know, Joe Biden was born to be a politician, sort of like Bill Clinton or even Chuck Schumer, who we saw so much of today. These are people who really live off this sort of interaction with crowds.

Barack Obama is a little different kind of character. He is a more reserved, more cerebral kind of person, although he seems to be having a good time himself, too.

BLITZER: Looks like they'll get back in the limo for the final drive into the White House.

TOOBIN: It's worth looking at that door to that limo. Look at how thick that door is. That's not a Honda.

BLITZER: That's not your typical Cadillac.

TOOBIN: Yes, it is a Cadillac.

BLITZER: That's not something you just go and say, I'll take one of those, you know?

TOOBIN: With a different paint job.

BLITZER: Yes, give me the --

BOLDUAN: He really -- I mean, he does not even look like he wants to get back in.

Gentlemen, I would like to tell you, you might want to turn around, because the vice president and Dr. Biden are about to approach us and pass us.

BLITZER: Let's see if we can do it again. Let's see if Joe Biden or -- will recognize and will say -- I'm going to have to stand up. Once I stand up, all my wires here they sort of fall apart.

BOLDUAN: They are very excited to see him.

BLITZER: Let's see -- hey, I'm waving.

BOLDUAN: You're waving.

BLITZER: Mr. Vice President, come up here and talk to us.

Hey, Mr. Vice President. I don't think he wants to talk.

BOLDUAN: I think he cannot hear you is probably --

BLITZER: Yes. Hey, Mr. Vice President. Mr. Vice President.

He's happy.

I think he was waving to Kate. He was definitely not waving to me.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I don't like to brag. Very special day.

TOOBIN: Barack Obama is -- has made his last passage on one of these parades. Who knows? Joe Biden may be back.

BLITZER: What do you think?

TOOBIN: You know, I think if it were up to Joe Biden, he'd be back. I think -- he's older than -- he would be older than Ronald Reagan when he ran for president the first time. Look at him, he looks in great shape. Nobody likes it better.

BLITZER: He's doing a little rope line over there. You see some young kids. He decides that he's going to improvise a little bit. He's right down -- right below us over here in our area.

BOLDUAN: Just what the Secret Service do not want to hear, the vice president is improvising.

BLITZER: Yes, this is -- you see, he's a natural born politician.

TOOBIN: Oh, gosh.

BOLDUAN: This is Joe Biden in his element.

BLITZER: He's a little different than all those parades in Wilmington, Delaware, July 4th parades.

BOLDUAN: That was a member of the Secret Service saying, please, Mr. President, don't go to the side again. Just kidding.

BLITZER: He's having a good time.

BOLDUAN: Sure he is.

BLITZER: He's become so much more -- correct me if I'm wrong, Jeffrey, the last few weeks, he seems to be everywhere, Joe Biden.

TOOBIN: I think that really is -- it's no coincidence that people are talking more about his run being for president. He closed the deal on the debt ceiling with Mitch McConnell. He was the spokesman for the gun initiative. These are high-profile roles that presidents don't have to give to vice presidents. This is what -- how important Joe Biden has become in this administration.

BLITZER: They clearly have an incredible relationship.

Gloria Borger just spent some time with the vice president.

Gloria, if you can hear me, talk a little about what we're seeing right now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you're seeing vintage Joe Biden. This is the Joe Biden that those of us who have covered him for quite some time know pretty well. I mean, it's unvarnished.

This is not his parade but he's kind of turning it into his parade. I think he knows, Wolf, that this could be his last parade unless he does run again. And he wouldn't commit to me one way or another. I think he's surely thinking about it.

But we were talking here about how fit Joe Biden is for a man his age. When I was -- I interviewed him in the old executive office building on Friday. Look at him run. And that's how he walks down the hall at the old EOB, and stops to talk to everybody and irrepressible.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He's also a little bit of a goof, like he likes to have fun. When you have donors come into the White House who don't feel like they always get enough attention and it's not the president's favorite thing to pay them a lot of attention. Sometimes, Vice President Biden will pop out and suddenly they end up in his office and he's the one who's really taking care of folks or a staffer whose family is coming to visit. He's the one -- shows the touch.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: -- as much as he's enjoying this, he's loving this.

BORGER: Here's the thing about Joe Biden -- Joe Biden is one of these -- he's one of these sort of visceral, touchy, "hug you" politicians who comes up right in your face when he talks to you.

YELLIN: His heart is right out there.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's remember, he's lucky to be alive. He is in great health now, but he had the brain issue years ago and he just loves this.

GERGEN: Yes.

KING: And, you see, he is the ultimate happy warrior. He loves every part of politics. He loves getting in to the nitty-gritty and cutting those deals with Mitch McConnell. He's been critical to the president in that regard.

But he loves this stuff. And I think Gloria's right. In the front of his mind, he wants to run and he hopes this is his parade four years from now.

But in the back of his mind, he has to know he's 70 years old. You never know what twist of the American politics.

So like the president, very different personalities. But I think the thing we have seen and, Wolf and Kate, you've been closer to it, but the thing we've seen front and center is they're both taking their time to soak this in, enjoy the moment.

BORGER: Look at him. He's running, he's doing laps on the parade route.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: Don't you think he knows the eyes of the country are on him?

KING: Sure.

BORGER: Sure.

GERGEN: At 70, he's showing just how vigorous he is, how much he enjoys politics.

BORGER: Right.

GERGEN: He has sort of an infectious optimism, infectious happiness. He goes with a happy warrior.

BORGER: And, David, you know, the thing is, I think he's finally found his zone in terms of his job. The president and he have sort of figured out a relationship that really works for them. I think he feel useful.

GERGEN: My sense is the longer he's in the public spotlight, the less Barack Obama's a lame duck.

KING: That's excellent point. And I think -- we're waiting now, the president and the vice president on the White House grounds. They can go in and freshen up a bit. Their family, friends, top aides in that big, reviewing stand up front, they will be out soon to watch the main event of this part of the celebration, the parade.

You see, that's the presidential reviewing stand right there, the White House right behind it. They've put that thing up every four years. It makes Pennsylvania Avenue a great place. This is our version of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. The president has the best seat right out front.

As we wait for the parade, the moments, you know, you talk about these two men, they're very different. But Joe Biden will be interesting to watch in the next couple of years. In your interview earlier, just right out of the vice presidential playbook -- sure, I help out, but only because the president gives me the portfolio. Sure they trust me, but only because they know the president will take any deal I take.

It's one thing that will be fascinating to watch. The president laid out some hefty lifts today. We now have some Joe Biden and other potential 2016 guys talking gun control. An issue Democrats ran from after Al Gore lost in 2000.

Is there any point over the next two years, or perhaps like Clinton and Gore, suddenly, the vice president's office starts to think, is this good for me?

BORGER: Well, I think -- the one thing Biden said to me, we're going to show this part of the interview later, I said, is there any way you might not run? And his answer was, if the economy tanks, if things don't go well, it's not going to be great for me -- was his sort of implication.

If things work well, let's take a look at it then. And that's where they have to work together to turn the economy around, because that's of course what is going to be in 2016.

KING: I assume, even if he decided not to run, he would keep that a secret as long as he could. Because that's his leverage, isn't it, David Gergen? We knew in the second term Dick Cheney was not going to run in the Bush years and you saw he lost some foreign policy issues. In the first year, he was dominant, Condoleezza won on some issues in the second term, and he was not as big a force anyway in the Republican Party because people knew he was not going to be on the electoral battlefield.

GERGEN: I think that's right, John. From his point of view, what he also -- he has to worry not only about whether Hillary Clinton's going to get in, not only about his own age and health, he has to worry about the overall success of this partnership. He has a very strong self-interest in seeing Barack Obama succeed, because as you well know, after eight years of one party being in office, it's not easy to hold on to that office.

And one of the things that helped to elect George H.W. Bush at the end of Reagan was Reagan went out on a high. He had some trouble in the second term but he went out on a high. And that really helped Bush elected.

I think that's important for Biden that President Obama succeeds.

KING: I just missed this one but the last vice president before George H.W. Bush was Martin Van Buren.

(LAUGHTER)

YELLIN: Biden has constantly been in and out of the dog house for say things he wasn't supposed to say for the longest time. And right now, he is in, as Gloria was saying, just the perfect sweet spot for him, because he has succeeded.

The thing -- the challenge is, I'm trying to emphasize about this speech, we don't know what the president wants to done in his second term. There was such a litany of agent that items. You know, less is more. There was too much more in this speech and that I think is the trap for him now, for Biden.

KING: I think it was a bold list the president puts out. The question is: what's the priority? What does he go to first?

In the sweetest spot for the parade, Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Across from that reviewing stand, we're waiting for the president and the first lady, the vice president, the second lady, the marching bands, they're all getting ready to start walking in front of that reviewing stand.

You're going to see it all on this special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll take a quick break as we await the president and the first lady.

Our special coverage will continue, with floats and marching bands and a whole lot more, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, the parade has begun. The parade is moving down Pennsylvania Avenue. There are marching bands. There are a lot of floats. There are a lot of people who are celebrating this day, an important day in American history, the inauguration of President Obama for the second time.

Kate Bolduan is watching what's going on. Jeffrey Toobin is with me as well. Once the president and the first lady get to that reviewing stand, they will be saluting all of these participants, and there are a lot of them, who have come to Washington from all over the country.

BOLDUAN: I actually read that there were twice as many applicants to participate in the parade this year than four years ago, but of course, they can't accept all of those applications.

But there are still some 8,800 people that are going to be involved, taking part in this parade. I don't know why this stat sticks out in my mind. Maybe because I think it's strange. Some 200 animals will also be honoring the president in this parade.

TOOBIN: There's a great deal of tension about which kind of animals. We know horses but beyond horses. I'm not sure. It's very interesting.

BOLDUAN: I don't know. I'm not going to pretend that I actually know the answer to that question.

TOOBIN: That's why you have to keep watching.

BLITZER: Maybe there's a mule. BOLDUAN: Who knows? Where did you get mule?

BLITZER: You know, there could be a mule, a symbolic mule.

BOLDUAN: We will see.

BLITZER: They're still on Pennsylvania Avenue over there. They're working their way from Capitol Hill. The highlight though, Jeffrey, happens right behind us, where they actually go by the president and the first lady and the vice president, the second lady, at that reviewing stand. That's when they sort of pause. They do their special tricks, if you will. They do their special moves.

BOLDUAN: Performance.

TOOBIN: Right.

BLITZER: They really get into it. They want to perform for the president.

TOOBIN: They do. As I mentioned earlier, I was sitting here four years ago and you could just see the excitement on the part of all the participants, the band members, the baton people and they are -- they will go.

BLITZER: You know, they're already looking at the legacy of what's going on. You see some of the -- as I said before, a lot of red, white and blue. We're seeing it -- there you see some of the horses.

BOLDUAN: There are your horses. There are your animals.

BLITZER: This is where we are. This is a live picture of Pennsylvania Avenue, right outside the White House. They're waiting for -- I guess they're waiting for the president and the first lady to show up. They want -- when they go by the various marching bands and the floats, they want to make sure the president sees them and the president will be seeing them.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. We do -- you know, there were six announcers throughout the parade route try to pump up the crowd. Also telling the crowd as they are coming along who is coming up, what marching band. That looks like it. Illinois float.

Then there is the famous kind of announcer. He's the veteran chief announcer of these inaugural parades, Charles Brotman. He's done 14 inauguration parades, I believe back since 1957, so he is a veteran of this. He keeps coming back. I think probably because he's good at it.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly are. There they are. Folks are already waiting for the president and the first lady to take their seats inside. But so far, they're still waiting and waiting, but that's fine. This has been an incredibly busy day.

I will say this. This does open up a whole new chapter in this day started solemn moved on to serious and now there's going to be a little bit of fun. The fun will really get going tonight at the balls and the parties.

Let's take a quick break. As we await the arrival of floats and the marching bands in front of us right here at the White House. We'll be right back with our special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, looks like this is the South Shore Drill team from Chicago, Illinois. You see the president's home state of Chicago. This is the drill team that was unable to attend President Obama's first inauguration because of a lack of funds.

This time, they were able to raise the money to attend, performs at about 120 parades and special events each year. But none, none, will be as special as what they're about to do when they go in front of the reviewing stand and perform for the president and the first lady.

There's the reviewing stand right there. Robin Meade, where are you right now? I know you've been moving around. We're waiting for the president to move into the reviewing stand so the parade can begin really to move in front of us.

ROBIN MEADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what? It's funny because I'm at Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventh Street. Can I give you the sounds of silence? Down here, everyone's at parade rest because they want to wait until they get seated down where you guys are and save their energy.

So at the moment, look behind me, even the Marines, the U.S. Marines even do parade rest with precision. Look at all those chiselled jaws and complete silence. I mean, if I yelled out, "We love the Marines" no one would even crack a smile. That's what's happening.

It's almost like everyone behind the marines are following suit. Even the Chinese-American Community Center Folk dance troupe you will see later out of Delaware, even though are at a Marine-like parade rest. So it's very quiet down here. As we wait for your guys' end to start moving. The president, Mrs. Obama, get seated yet?

BLITZER: We're still waiting. They're supposed to be right behind us. We're right across the street, Robin, from the reviewing stand. All the VIPs, the family members, other distinguished guests, they're all inside.

I think they're waiting for the president and the first lady and the vice president, the second lady, to come in, the families, the immediate kids, and I think this parade will get moving. Right now, it's paused as we await.

They've got to walk outside of the north -- the north lawn of the White House, towards that reviewing stand. So you see the folks there waiting. You see some of the relatives there, some of the families and some of their friends.

There was a real poignant moment when the president was leaving Capitol Hill and he took a look at what he saw. I think we have a clip. I'm going to play it. Let's see how good the audio is. I think it's worth discussing.

The president said "I want to take a look one more time, I'm not going to see this again." as he looked out at the capitol. At what was going on. Now you see the vice president and Jill Biden and their family. They are walking towards the reviewing stand through the north lawn of the White House from the north portico.

You see the west wing of the White House right behind them. They're going in. Once they're in, once they're seated, the president and the first lady, Sasha and Malia, they will come in. Let's listen in.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice President of the United States and Dr. Jill Biden.

BLITZER: So there you see the vice president and his family. They're being seated in the front row, literally right behind us in the reviewing stand. You know when the vice president and the vice president's family, they are seated.

You know who's not far behind, Kate, the president and the first lady. They're walking out of the north portico walking down the south lawn. You see the driveway over there where they'll be going. You see the daughters Sasha and Malia as well. Let's just watch and listen as the president moves towards the reviewing stand.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States and Mrs. Michelle Obama.

BLITZER: All right, so there they are, Sasha and Malia, the first lady, the president, they're in the front row, as they should be and they are going to watch this parade and enjoy it.

The president, meanwhile, taking an opportunity to greet his guests. These are the VIPs of the VIPs who have been invited inside this secure closed area for this special moment.

The president clearly, Kate, savouring this, this is a special time. I think he'll find out the next four years will go very quickly. He's going to want to take advantage of every day, every hour.

BOLDUAN: He definitely does seem like he is trying to savour every moment of this day. We're getting some information about who all is joining and the vice president and the president sharing a private moment. You always want to know what Joe Biden is saying in those private moments.

But we are getting some information about who's joining the Obamas and the Bidens in the reviewing stand. We're told that they're joined by congressional leaders, Supreme Court justices, governors, the Joint Chiefs, White House staff, as well as area elementary school students and some of the Tuskogee airmen and their families that are all going to be joining the Obamas and the Bidens in the reviewing stand.

BLITZER: The Tuskogee airmen were the first African-American aviators who fought for the United States in World War II. They are being honored as they should. They should be honored all the time especially on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day here.

BOLDUAN: And Wolf, you all be very excited to know that there is also a Tuskogee airmen float that we will be seeing today.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, do you know anything about that Tuskogee airmen float?

TOOBIN: I don't know anything -- I know something about these Tuskogee airmen, but not the float. You know, they not only fought heroically, but they were given inferior equipment. They were discriminated against, World War II, the military was still segregated. It took Harry Truman to integrate the armed forces, but they fought heroically mostly in Europe. And several of them are still alive.

BLITZER: Yes, yes, they are. And even as we watch what's going on, you see the president. I think he wants this to get going. What does the vice president have in his hand, is that a little program? What is that?

BOLDUAN: Maybe it is a little program. Maybe they're on their seats for them. I wouldn't be surprised. They probably want to know who is coming up and who's next. I'm sure they also want to know which float they get to see next.

BLITZER: And I see -- they did not change their outfits.

BOLDUAN: But it must be heated I'm guessing.

TOOBIN: The glass part is heated.

BOLDUAN: It must be heated because they all seem more comfortable here. Actually, when the sun came out, it got very comfortable here.

BLITZER: Yes, they're in a closed area right now so they can take off their overcoats and relax and enjoy and have a good time, and appreciate this moment. This is the moment that all of us are appreciating as well.

TOOBIN: Yet another reason that it's good to be the president. You get the heated area.

BOLDUAN: There are many reasons.

BLITZER: All right, let's -- as we see what's going on -- who's that? Somebody's coming in to hug the daughters. I don't know who that is. Find out soon enough. Let's take a quick break. We'll find out on the other side as we await the start of the parade in front of the reviewing stand. Our special coverage will resume in THE SITUATION ROOM right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, the good news, they are moving now, the parade. They're moving along. The marching bands, the floats, they're moving along Pennsylvania Avenue, Kate, and they'll be approaching the reviewing stand where the president and the vice president and their families, they are now seated in the front row.

There he is, the president right there, took off his overcoat. They're in a heated area, a secluded closed area. There you see the first lady.

BOLDUAN: I'm even seeing --

BLITZER: And Malia, they've got their little smart phones, taking pictures.

BOLDUAN: Vice President Biden's taking a picture of Dr. Biden right now, it's very cute actually.

BLITZER: You see Sasha taking a picture of mom and dad. Nice, very nice.

BOLDUAN: Do it again, Dad.

BLITZER: She's saying, Dad, kiss her, kiss her. There's the picture.

BOLDUAN: Remember what they said at the basketball game.

BLITZER: That was at the USA/Brazil basketball game when the kiss camera came on, they didn't kiss. Malia made sure they did at some point.

BOLDUAN: It's funny because it's one of those -- we're all alike moments because it's exactly what any family would be doing at a parade.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta's now joined us here on our little reviewing stand as we're sitting across from them. Jim, what was it like out there? You went the whole way from Capitol Hill on that -- that sort of flat truck, watching what was going on.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. You know, in all due respect to all my CNN colleagues who have worked a lot of hours out here and been in some pretty neat positions in terms of watching this history unfold, I sort of feel like I was in a great position there on Pennsylvania Avenue. I hate to brag, but might have been the best view in town.

BLITZER: By the way, that's General Raymond Odeinero, the army chief of staff who is there meeting with the president and the vice president but go ahead.

ACOSTA: The point I was sort getting at there, Wolf, when you watch the president and the first lady make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue, you know, it is just impossible not to feel amazing about this country. You know, it is just one of those things that you feel like you're never going to see again in your lifetime and we got to see it right there in front of us so it was something to behold.

BLITZER: There's the U.S. Army Field band moving along. They're going to get closer to the reviewing stand. At some point, you know what I'd like to do, listen in to a little bit of the music. Let's listen a little bit right now.

ANNOUNCER: Now approaching, West Point, The United States Military Academy. Upon graduation, they will serve in the United States Army.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Punahou School Band representing Honolulu, Hawaii, President Obama's birthplace.

BLITZER: All right, this is the Punahou -- I keep mispronouncing it, the Punahou High School Marching Band from Honolulu. The president of the United States graduated from Punahou High School in 1979.

At the 2013 presidential inauguration parade, the school is now proudly representing his past and honoring Hawaii's connections to him. This is an exciting moment for this high school and for this marching band and it's a nice touch, Kate, to see the president's home state so well represented here.

BOLDUAN: One of the -- as they're playing, I'm not sure which one it is, but one of the medleys will include the fight song. We are listening to this, you saw him give the little hello to the band.

BLITZER: This is the president's alma mater.

BOLDUAN: The marching band of course also honoring --

BLITZER: By the way, after the Punahou High School Marching Band, we will see the Hawaii home state float.

BOLDUAN: And what did I tell you, where we going to see a volcano. There is a volcano.

BLITZER: You see it already?

BOLDUAN: It's behind us.

BLITZER: There it is the Aloha state.

TOOBIN: On the side of that float is a quote from the late senator in Inouye who recently passed away. I was observing that yesterday when I looked at these floats on the other side of the capital. It is there on the float. "I would like to convey to the mainland some small sense of our spirit of aloha."

BLITZER: All right, let's move on from Hawaii, we're going to Iowa. This is the Isiserettes Drill and Drum Corps from Des Moines, Iowa. They came in. We did a piece on this in THE SITUATION ROOM last week. They were invited here. They trained at Sidwell Friends. That's where Sasha and Malia, they stayed there. They were allowed to stay here. They came in from Des Moines. Let's just listen in a little bit.