Return to Transcripts main page


Grading Obama's Inaugural Address; Michelle Obama's Fashion Parade; Sundance Film Festival in Full Swing; Highly Anticipated Documentaries

Aired January 22, 2013 - 06:30   ET




BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: From civil rights to gay rights, President Barack Obama sets his radar on civil liberties for all Americans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, it was red, it was historic, it was epic. First Lady Michelle Obama and her dress, a giant hit at the inaugural balls.

ROMANS: And a football wife goes off on Facebook after the Patriots get pounced by the Baltimore Ravens and she's not a fan of Ray Lewis.

Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans, in today for Zoraida Sambolin. She's going to join us live from the Sundance Film Festival in just a few minutes.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 30 minutes after the hour right now.

ROMANS: All right. We're going to talk about the parties and the dresses in a minute, but first came the speech. And in his second inaugural address, President Obama sought to link the nation's founding principles with challenges facing the country today.


OBAMA: We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us, just as it guided our forbearers through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall, just it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone.


ROMANS: Nick Ragone is the author of "Presidential Leadership: 15 Decisions That Changed a Nation." Good morning.


ROMANS: You said this was the President's last best chance to deliver a speech for the ages. Did he deliver?

RAGONE: I think he came extremely close, which is to say it's a high bar to set. It was a big moment. It was him sort of coming out redefining the progressive era. The word I think we're hearing this morning, it was a liberal Reagan. It was the most ideological speech since Reagan's first inaugural and it sort of picked up on the legacy of Lincoln, but even a little bit of FDR, a little bit of Kennedy, a little bit of Johnson.

So, I think it got very close. It was a big line in the sand.

ROMANS: And what was so unique for this president was gay rights. I mean, this is the first president really to not speak in code about equality for gays.

RAGONE: Right.

ROMANS: I mean, we heard him mentioned Stonewall, that's the New York City bar, in 1969, was the first sight of open resistance by gay Americans.

He was also the first president to mention it directly. Listen.


OBAMA: Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.


ROMANS: That president made history there.

RAGONE: It did. And I liked the previous clip when he connected Seneca and Stonewall. Highest rhetorical flourish as well.

It was also -- it was more than just symbolic. He was connecting the threads of kind of liberal, progressive behavior and says this is where the future is.

And I think this is the speech a lot of people wanted to hear four years ago, which is much more about compromise and working together and fixing a broken politics. You could see a more seasoned politicians say, you know, we tried that, didn't quite work, here's what I really am, this is what I stand for, and follow me.

ROMANS: It's a different president than four years ago.

RAGONE: Much different. Not just more gray hair, but I think much more seasoned, a little cynical about the process, but not cynical about the country's future. I'm just -- I was very impressed with the way he captured the moment, which is not an easy thing to do.

ROMANS: So, a Reagan for liberalism, but, you know, of course, conservatives are saying this is a big government manifesto.

RAGONE: Right.

ROMANS: A progressive manifesto that's a big government manifesto.

I want to read you something from "The Wall Street Journal" here. Look at this, "President Obama wants more government. In his inaugural address, he masked the message with phrases like collective action and doing things together. But these were standing euphemisms really for bigger government and more ambitious federal government. That's the unmistakable goal of his second term, and his inaugural address was devoted to his determination to achieve it."

That's Fred Barnes in "Wall Street Journal."

RAGONE: And you would expect the opposition to say that. And I think the same way liberals critique Ronald Reagan's '81 address and '85 address. I'm not surprised of that.

I think we do have the temperate though. There was some, you know, really progressive, interesting thoughts. But against the backdrop that we still have a crushing deficit and debt. We still have long- term entitlement problems.

And so, it's within the confines of an ever-shrinking government. But you talked more about fiscal stuff. There wasn't talked about debt and unemployment.

ROMANS: Right.

RAGONE: There's really more on the social side, which was interesting.

ROMANS: And eight lines about climate change in there. Was that -- to be on record, or is that part of his legacy?

RAGONE: I think it was to be on record. The one part of the speech, the middle part felt like State of the Union. He started kind of ticking off very specific things, talking to specifically his base, the one that got him elected. So, there was climate change. Obviously, we saw gay rights and other things.

So I think part of it was to be on the record, made sure he said it. I don't think the focus is going to be on climate change. I think it's going to be about a kind of a new progressive America, his vision.

Again, I think, liberals wanted to hear the speech four years ago, but they finally got the speech they wanted.

ROMANS: How much time to make his legacy?

RAGONE: He's got 18 months until that September of next year when the midterms start and after that, you become a lame duck.

ROMANS: All right. Nick Ragone, "Presidential Leadership" -- thank you so much. Nice to see you.

RAGONE: Good to see you.


BERMAN: Thirty-four minutes after the hour.

She was the first Latina to perform the swearing in oath. Later on "STARTING POINT", Soledad has an in-depth interview with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and what she says -- why she says you can't have it all. Listen.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The possibility of having it all, that's a myth we would do well to abandon.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The thought at every moment of your day, you could feel equally fulfilled, I think is what the word I use there, pernicious. It's ridiculous.


BERMAN: So style and fashion so much a part of last night, exploding everywhere you looked. First Lady Michelle Obama. You know, she may have outdone herself this time with another masterpiece by Jason Wu.

CNN's Alina Cho with reaction from the fashion world.


OBAMA: Ladies and gentlemen, my better half and my dance partner, Michelle Obama.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If watching First Lady Michelle Obama's fashion choices is a sport, the inauguration is the Super Bowl, fashion's biggest prize.

When Mrs. Obama emerged in a ruby red chiffon and velvet gown, the fashion world was a Twitter. Who designed it? The world now knows the answer is Jason Wu, again.

This response from Wu on Twitter, #inshock -- shows he was just as surprised this time as he was four years ago.

(on camera): Take me to that moment, when she walked out.

JASON WU, FASHION DESIGNER: I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I mean, I was that's me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's brilliant what she'd done in keeping it a secret, I have to say, because in previous organizations, while there was interest in what the First Lady wore, there was never this read carpet moment.

CHO (voice-over): Red was on her mind. This is an exclusive look at Jason Wu's sketch of the Obama gown. And clearly, there was something here that caught the First Lady's eye. In choosing Wu, she once again puts the Taiwanese born designer who lives in New York on the biggest world stage.

Not to be forgotten -- there was another outfit on display, the one the First Lady wore on inauguration morning. Her choice this time? Coat and dress by American designer Thom Browne.

We tracked him down at his hotel in Paris, celebrating the moment.

THOM BROWNE, FASHION DESIGNER: You can never predict life to happen this way, and it's -- I'm so fortunate, I'm so honored and so proud that she chose mine.

CHO: For this occasion, the 47-year-old diner chose fabric for the First Lady based on men's silk ties.

BROWNE: Well, I had an idea that the President would be wearing navy, so I wanted to do something that would -- that she would look really good with him. And I chose a dark navy fabric, which actually a silk jacquard fabric that I have used in my men's -- in my men's collection.

CHO: For this designer, this moment represents name recognition, a potential for big business. And largely he has one woman to thank.

BROWNE: A style icon for me is somebody who has the confidence to be able to be their own person, be that true individual that they are, and I think she definitely will go down in history as that.


BERMAN: So our fashion czar, Alina Cho, is here.

CHO: I like that.

BERMAN: Clearly, a fashion czar, the dictator of fashion. He had no idea -- Jason had no idea that she was getting chosen, even the second time around.

CHO: Absolutely no idea. In fact, he told trade publication, "Women's Wear Daily", Mrs. Obama likes to keep her secrets. She surprised me again.

The one thing that was different was this time around, he watched it happen, unfold, right before the eyes of 30 of his employees at his studio. Remember, he's working on his fall collection for 2013. Four years ago, he ordered a Domino's Pizza and watched it at home on TV with a friend.

Another thing he said, you know what? After four years in office I thought the country was ready to see a confident First Lady in red -- which I think is extraordinary. A lot of people were surprised by that choice of red, because she sort of -- she chose a more subdued color for earlier events, navy. They thought maybe she might do the same for the evening.

And, certainly, what a shock to the fashion world to choose Jason Wu again four years later. No one expected it.

BERMAN: I've seen you talk about how much money he made off the first time around. You know, we talked about Obama getting reelected. Jason Wu got reelected last night.

CHO: He most certainly did. I actually had talk to him live at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, right here on CNN. Ask him the question, was it just as sweet the second time around? I'll be talking to him. That's again in the 9:00 hour.

But, you know, it's interesting. I saw one quote on Twitter that said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And you know what? At the end of the day, she's a woman who wanted to look and feel great and so, in the end, she chose the gown that would make her feel that way and that was the Jason Wu red gown.

BERMAN: So, interesting we cannot wait to see you interview him later this morning. Thanks so much, Alina.

ROMANS: All right. The Sundance Film Festival is in full swing this week and our own Zoraida Sambolin live in Utah this morning. She's going to tell us about some of the hottest movies this year.


ROMANS: The band is back together here in the studio. Soledad O'Brien joins us now to look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT".

O'BRIEN: Lots happening this morning on "STARTING POINT."

Making history, the President calls for the country to come together in the second inaugural address. We're going to cover all the highlights this morning.

And we'll talk more about the First Lady's fashion statement. Who she wore, how she looked, what did she do with the bangs? That's what people want to know this morning.

Also, his poem moved the entire nation, attempted to capture a national identity through personal stories. We'll talk live with the inaugural poet, Richard Blanco.

And then, part two of my interview with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She talks candidly about her career choices and her thoughts on motherhood.

And then, later, she became a household name in a bad way during the David Petraeus scandal. Now, Jill Kelley is speaking out, finally talking, has an exclusive interview with "RELIABLE SOURCES" host Howie Kurtz. She'll tell him why her life is now a nightmare and also why she decided not to press charges against Paula Broadwell. BERMAN: That's interesting.

O'BRIEN: Fascinating, right?

BERMAN: I'm excited to see that.

O'BRIEN: Yes, yes.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Soledad.

Forty-three minutes past the hour right now. We're going to caught you up to date on the morning's top stories.

The family of one of the three Americans killed in the Algerian hostage crisis last week will hold a news conference this morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time at a relative's home in Texas. Heartbroken family members said Victor Lovelady felt 100 percent safe working at that gas facility in Algeria.


ERIN LOVELADY, VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: Nothing happened there in so long and my friends have been doing it for so long. It's fine, Erin. It's so safe. We have protection.

And he really truly felt safe there.


ROMANS: His daughter, Erin, says she wants everyone to know what a great dad Victor was and how much he'll be missed. Thirty-six others have been confirmed dead from the standoff, including two other Americans.

BERMAN: After being delayed for health reasons, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton getting ready to testify about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will testify before the House and Senate committees about the September 11th attack in Libya that claimed the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

ROMANS: And the wife of the Patriots star wide receiver Wes Welker blasting the retiring Raven Ray Lewis. Lewis, who's retiring, win or loss after the Super Bowl, has been seen as a leader and inspiration to his team. But after Baltimore bounced New England from the playoff, Anna Burns Welker, a former Ms. Hooters, blasted Lewis on Facebook and suggested people need a reality check.

She said, "Proud of my husband in the past. By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis' Wikipedia page: six kids, four wives, acquitted for murder, paid a family off. Yay. What a Hall of Fame player. A true role model." She then followed up that with an apology to him.

BERMAN: When you lose, you lose quietly and say congratulations to the other team. ROMANS: So, the sportsmanship something in there.

BERMAN: Forty-five minutes after the hour right now.

And the mountains of Park City, Utah, are starting to look at an awful lot like Hollywood. Right now, movie business is focusing on the 35th annual Sundance Film Festival. Everyone is there, along with the parties and celebrities sightings. There are plenty of movies to see. Some of the most highly anticipated films this year are documentaries.

Let's go live to Park City, where my friend, co-anchor, Zoraida Sambolin, looking fabulous, has a look at some of the fabulous documentaries at Sundance.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, John. You know, earlier, you mentioned that it's going to be colder in New York than it is here. What's the temperature going to be there?

BERMAN: Way cold. We're talking 20s.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, really? So, it is 19 degrees right now, and eventually, it's going to be a balmy 43 degrees. So, I'm not going to complain, because at the end of the day, you have it far worse off than I do. But anyways, we're talking about the temperatures. We're going to talk a little bit about the hot documentaries that are coming up, and I have a little bit of a sneak peek for you. Take a look.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Sundance has always been synonymous with documentaries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm prejudiced to documentaries. I have been most of my adult career life.

SAMBOLIN: Four of the five documentary features now in the running for an Oscar were launched at last year's festival. The only one that didn't is on this year's program. Now, a new crop of documentarians is hoping for similar success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my second favorite is "Garfield" and then "Sesame Street."

SAMBOLIN: "Linsanity: the Movie," a project that began long before the phenomenon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone knows what he was and that -- and how he reacted. The story -- it's not the ending, it's the whole journey up to this point. All of the things that had to happen to make this perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to be loved, then go be a movie star.

SAMBOLIN: A former vice president is also in the Sundance spotlight, "The World According To Dick Cheney." RJ CUTLER, PRODUCER, "THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DICK CHENEY": Dick Cheney as a man who love him or hate him, agree with him or disagree with him, is certainly one of the most significant non-presidential political figures this country has ever known.

(CHANTING): Thank you for coming here.

SAMBOLIN: "The 99 percent" is well-represented here, too. A unique production resulting from the collaboration of nearly over 100 filmmakers.

Audrey ewell, producer, "99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film": One of that is we're filmmakers. And for us, this is about capturing a moment in our collective American contemporary history that we didn't feel had necessary been really explored.

SAMBOLIN: Documentaries not typically in the spotlight, but here at Sundance, they're among the stars.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): So, you know, John, I'm really excited about that "Linsanity" documentary. I'm going to be sitting down with him a little bit later, but there's also another film, another documentary that I'm very excited about. It's Mariel Hemingway and her daughter, Langley. It's "Running From Crazy" and basically, what she has done is she has documented the history of mental health and depression in her family, how it affected her and how she hopes that she does not succumb like some of her other family members have.

So, I'm really looking forward to sitting down with mother and daughter a little bit later and then bringing you that story as well.

BERMAN: That sounds like an important time for this film, too, Zoraida. Can I ask you quickly? You know, I always hear about Sundance. I've never had a chance to go. Is it just stars everywhere you turn?

SAMBOLIN: Well, here's the deal. You have to be able to recognize the stars, because it gets a little cold at night, and as you're doing all the watching -- right over me, actually, on Main Street is where you would do all of the celebrity watching. There are some key spots that you can go to that I'm going to share a little bit later with you in order to do your celebrity watching.

But yes, I mean, you know, there are folks that are walking around all the time, and they're very accessible, very approachable, but then, it's also the regular folks also that are fun to watch. The people watching here is incredible. You would love it.

BERMAN: All right. That sounds fantastic. Hope you're having a good time out there. Nice to see you, Zoraida. You'll hear much more from Zoraida Sambolin at the Sundance Film Festival coming up next hour on "STARTING POINT".

ROMANS: All right. Up next, the good, bad, and the funny. Some of the best moments from the inauguration of President Barack Obama.


BERMAN: An inauguration is such a big story, such an important story, and we've really covered every angle of it for you, and you know the big story. But sometimes, with a day like that, there are so many small things that sometimes you miss that can reveal so much. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Barack H. Obama.

BERMAN (voice-over): Yes, it was a party for a million people, big, huge, historic. But some of the most indelible moments so small, so personal, so real. Sasha and Malia, swaying a presidential dance feet away from the presidential podium. It's hard, though, to maintain that energy for a whole inauguration.

That is one heck of a yawn from Sasha. Hey, you think it's easy to take an oath of office? The President is kind of 0 for 2 on the big stage. And this time, it was his fault.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The office of President of the United States.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The office of President of the United --

BERMAN: That's states, states! Still, it was a glorious morning. And what do you do after re-enlisting for another four years as leader of the free world? You pause to take it all in. A 23 seconds of reflection.

You think Joe Biden was having fun? That smile almost never left his face. And you get the sense that if a vice president could actually crowd surf, Joe Biden would. And more dancing, the President dancing this time, trying at least, dancing and chewing, chewing and dancing, chewing and chewing and chewing.

Is that the Nicorette we hear so much about? And a presidential inauguration is something a family should never forget. Sasha and Malia, their own paparazzi, and their parents stealing a kiss or two. What family wouldn't snap photos, even a First Family? Truly, a day to remember.


BERMAN (on-camera): You know, I counted four kisses there for the Obamas there. A lot of people were watching Sasha and Malia all day yesterday. They seem to be having their own moments all day, from the swaying on stage in front of a million people to the yawning, you know, the interaction with each other, with their parents, it was really -- you know, it was a really unbelievable thing to see in some ways. It was like any family would act. In other ways, you know, watching these two girls who've grown up so much over the last four years.

ROMANS: And when people taking pictures of them taking pictures. I mean, they knew the eyes around them all day long, too. It was interesting to see Sasha bounding out of the car, bounding up the steps. So, wow, what a day. It looked to me like the President was confident, but he was also relishing. He knew it was history for him, you know?

BERMAN: Sure was and First Family.

ROMANS: All right. Up next, today's "Best Advice" from actress and UNICEF ambassador, Angie Harmon. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Just a few minutes left, as always, we wrap it up with "Best Advice."

ROMANS: And today it, comes from actress and UNICEF ambassador, Angie Harmon.


ANGIE HARMON, ACTRESS/UNICEF AMBASSADOR: The best advice I ever received was pretty is as pretty does. So, if you want to be pretty on the outside, once you be pretty on the inside. Meaning, kind, and sweet, and careful of other people's feelings, respectful of others, which led me to sort of lead my life with, know what I stand for, know what I don't stand for, and have the courage to live my life accordingly. Best advice I ever got.


ROMANS: Pretty is as pretty does.

BERMAN: And she's working so hard on human trafficking for UNICEF. She truly is beautiful on the outside and on the inside.

That is all for EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad starts right now.