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Obama Makes History as the First Black President-Elect; Obama Supporter Celebrate Historic Win; Reaction of Obama Win Around the Country and the World
Aired November 5, 2008 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING on this historic morning. It is Wednesday. It is November 5th. Well, America voted last night, and today, the freshman senator from Illinois is now President-Elect Barack Obama, winning the election.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: That's very interesting to say, isn't it? President-Elect Barack Obama. I mean, a couple of years ago, who would have thought about it? Let's take a look at what happened last night.
First of all, here's the scene from Grant Park. Whoa! There it was. It's gone there. We still got three states that we haven't called yet. Let's go to that. North Carolina with its 15 electoral votes still too close to call. It's 50 percent for Barack Obama, 49 percent for John McCain. Senator Obama just 12,000 votes ahead of him. We have 100 percent of the precincts reporting, but with the margins being that close in a state that big, we want to wait before we call that state.
Here in Indiana, we've got 99 percent of the precincts counted. And look at this, Barack Obama's slightly ahead of John McCain with its 11 electoral votes. The margin there 22,986 votes. This is a state that has not voted for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
And here in Missouri, you know, it's looking -- the more closer we look at these numbers, the more accurate all of the early polling looks. Fifty percent for John McCain, 5,800 votes ahead of Barack Obama. Again, that race too close to call, even though 100 percent of the precincts have reported in.
We don't know when we're going to be able to call these states, because there still may be some outstanding ballots that haven't been counted, but certainly, our election team will be working on it and we'll get you the confirmation of those results just as soon as we can.
As we said at the beginning, it was an amazing night at Grant Park in the heart of Chicago. More than 200,000 people on hand to watch Senator Obama accept his victory and become the president-elect. He'll soon become the 44th president of the United States in his inauguration on January 20th of next year, and he praised all of his supporters from across the country for taking him to the top last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines, in the living rooms of Concord, on the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5, $10, and $20 to the cause.
It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy, who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep. It drew strength from the not-so-young people, who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the earth. This is your victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: And Barack Obama's advisers say that he could announce some top White House appointees by the end of this week.
Suzanne Malveaux is live for us at Grant Park in Chicago with more on this transition that's going to take place, and probably at a very, very rapid pace.
Hi there, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran. They're wasting really no time with this.
Barack Obama today starts the day, at least, like every other dad. He's taking his daughters to school, then he heads to the gym. But after that, all of that is going to change. He's meeting with his top advisers today to essentially begin the transition to the presidency.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Barack Obama making history as the first African-American U.S. president-elect. From his home state of Illinois, to his father's homeland in Kenya, on Main Street to Wall Street, and outside the gates of the White House -- elation and celebration. Obama's simple call for change answered, and his defeated opponent, John McCain, humbled.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African- Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
MALVEAUX: Tears from the last African-American to seek the office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody sing. MALVEAUX: And a realization from other activists, the world has changed.
SPIKE LEE, FILMMAKER/ACTIVIST: What Barack said tonight is true. This is the only place in the world where this could happen, America.
MALVEAUX: While it was clearly a moment of celebration for Obama's supporters, the president-elect delivered a sobering message.
OBAMA: Most of all I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
MALVEAUX: And, Kiran, to underscore that, the sense of expectation, the campaign realizes that people are looking very closely at his style of leadership. What is he going to do next? Well, he is obviously going to be meeting with his advisers today. They are going to be announcing members of the transition team. And as we had mentioned before, perhaps as early as later in the week, a White House chief of staff -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Very interesting. All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us, thanks so much.
And you know, Chicago's Grant Park, like New Year's Eve in Times Square, really, waves of Barack Obama supporters cheering, crying, estimated a close to 250,000 strong, all of them cramming in to be part of that moment in the biggest election night rally in memory.
And our Alina Cho was among the masses. She joins us live right now.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran, good morning to you. It really was the place to be, Grant Park. You know, some people are just waking up to this news. We have been up with it, digesting it all night long. In fact, we've been up so long that we've seen not one, but two additions of the "Chicago Tribune."
Take a look at the early edition here with the headline "It's Obama." Now take a look at the later edition. How often do you see this? A full-page photo with the headline "Obama, our next president."
Now, as you mentioned, just a couple of hours earlier, I was in the middle of the crowd at Grant Park when CNN made the projection that Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States. Immediately, the crowd went crazy. There were tears, there were hugs, and most of all, a whole lot of excitement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so elated. I can't believe that he won! He spoke at our high school graduation. I'm so excited!
CHO: He spoke at your high school graduation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes! In Hyde Park. I grew up in that neighborhood. I'm so -- oh, my God, I'm thanking God right now. Woo!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, it's overwhelming! Woo!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to pinch yourself, because you can't believe you're at this place. I mean, it's totally amazing. I mean, you're just like, I cannot believe I'm here, you know?
You think of people who saw Gandhi or Martin Luther King, and you know, I just can't believe it. It's great.
CHO: A piece of history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A piece of history that I'll never forget.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is utterly amazing. I am so proud, so proud to be black and so proud to be an American. I'm very proud. Very proud.
CHO: Enough to bring you to tears. Enough to bring you to tears.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. Because even though I knew that we were close, I did not think it would happen.
CHO: You've had a bad season with the Cubs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a White Sox fan, ma'am. I've had a great year. We have a White Sox fan in the Oval Office. The world is set. The world is perfect.
CHO: Of course, people all the more excited here because Barack Obama, after all, is also a native son. Now, keep in mind, Obama is not only the nation's first black president, he is also the first president from Illinois since Ulysses S. Grant. So, it is fitting that this celebration took place inside Grant Park, and we are happy to report no incidents, no arrests, according to Chicago police.
And, Kiran, that is very good news for the Windy City, because Chicago is in the running to host the 2016 Olympic Games -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Just one more thing for them to be proud of there, right? If they get the Olympics on top of everything else.
Alina Cho, thanks.
CHO: That's right.
ROBERTS: Well, just over a half a century ago, racial segregation was the law of the land in many states, the reason why Barack Obama's stunning victory has special significance for the African-American community. Civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis talked about what it means.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: It is an unbelievable night. Tonight is a wonderful night. It is a night -- it is a night of thanksgiving.
God, the almighty God, has brought us from a long ways. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to say we have come a distance, but we still have a distance to go. But tonight, we can celebrate and thank God almighty!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: The Reverend Jesse Jackson shedding joyful tears last evening, saying it's ecstasy, as he celebrated with the crowd in Chicago. Jackson had his problems with Barack Obama during the two- year-long campaign, once accusing Obama of "acting like he's white."
From Chicago to 125th Street in New York City, Harlem, where black journalists, authors, artists, chefs, and musicians have thrived for decades, thousands gathered near the Apollo Theater to celebrate the new president.
CNN's Jason Carroll was there. In fact, still is there. Good morning, Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And good morning to you, John.
No mistaking, this is definitely Harlem. When we were out here during this entire celebration, everyone that we spoke to wanted to make something clear -- this is not just a victory, they tell us, for African-Americans, but for all Americans.
And when this celebration happened here, it was really an incredible sight to see. Just the looks on people's faces when the announcement was made, the joy, the excitement that was here. The excitement basically being two-fold. Obviously, the excitement over making history, electing the country's first African-American president.
But second, the feeling among people here that we spoke to, John, that America also has written a new chapter in this ongoing dialogue that we've had in dealing with race relations in this country for decades -- for many, many, many years.
You know, it's been said that Senator Obama tried to run a post- racial campaign. The people out here telling us he achieved that and much, much more.
CROWD: Obama! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am floored, I am undone, I am proud, I am amazed.
CARROLL: Now I do see that you've got a picture of your grandmother here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.
CARROLL: And what do you think your grandmother would say about this moment?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My grandmother would be so overwhelmed and so full of joy, and she would have said never in her lifetime would she have ever have expected to see such a great moment as this. And I'm just so proud that in my lifetime I can see it and have my son with me, and he's able to see it. And I'm just, I'm just overjoyed.
CARROLL: Was this a day that you ever thought you would see in your life?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I didn't. I wish my parents were here to experience this with me. It's a bittersweet moment, because all those who paved the way for me are not here with me right now to celebrate.
CARROLL: Another question we wanted to ask people out here is, you know, about the future, where does the country head now? And one woman I think summed it up pretty well. She told me, "We are ready to hold Senator Barack Obama accountable, and we are also ready to have him hold us accountable" -- John.
ROBERTS: I mean, certainly, he's going to be the president of the United States. It doesn't -- you know, it's not a free pass there. You know, you got to expect that he is going to be held to account. But it will be fascinating, Jason, to see what kind of effect this has on this nation.
Thanks so much. Jason Carroll for us in Harlem this morning.
Reaction to the speech pouring in this morning in Atlanta. An incredibly emotional scene inside the Reverend Martin Luther King's old church.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
That was just after 11:00 last night when CNN and others called the race for Obama. About 2,000 people packed inside Ebenezer Baptist. King's surviving children, Martin and Bernice, were there. So was his only remaining sibling, Christine Farris. Another 1,000 people gathered outside -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Well, we want your feedback as part of our special election coverage this morning. And our "Quick Vote" question this hour -- are there still red states and blue states? You can call our toll-free number, which is 866-979-vote. You can also send us a text, yes or no, to 94553 from your cell phone, and we'll have a tally of your votes a little later in the hour.
Well, he's a former insider of the Bush White House. He endorsed Barack Obama. CNN's global team of reporters the only ones to catch up with former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Next, a CNN exclusive. You will hear how he reacted in his own words to last night's historic election.
ROBERTS: Fifteen and a half minutes after the hour now. President Bush's former secretary of state, Colin Powell, hit the Sunday talk show circuit to endorse Barack Obama last month, but we had to track him down in Hong Kong, of all places, to get his reaction to last night's celebrations. Of course, being CNN, we can track people down in Hong Kong.
Our Hugh Riminton spoke exclusively with Powell just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: President-elect Obama did not put himself forward as an African-American president. He put himself forward as an American who happened to be black, who happened to be African-American, and that ought to come after the title. Because what he did in this campaign was to be all-inclusive to reach out across racial lines, cultural lines, religious lines, you name it. He wanted to be a transformational figure, to bridge the gap between generations, and I think that's what allowed him to win this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Colin Powell wasn't the only former Bush insider to back Obama. So did one-time Bush press secretary, Scott McClellan. And, Kiran, General Powell last night also said that when he watched Barack Obama's acceptance speech, he shed a tear, like Jesse Jackson.
CHETRY: He absolutely did, and he was man enough to admit he wasn't afraid to cry about it, for sure. Historic moment. And we're talking about that throughout the morning as well.
Our panel joins us once again. We have with us Lisa Caputo, as well as Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Ed Rollins and Tara Wall. Thanks to all of you for being with us again.
One of the things that I want to get to that we've been talking about a little bit is how Obama threads the needle, I guess you could say, when it comes to making sure -- I mean, he was the first candidate who said I was against the war from the very beginning, and how does he balance that with doing what's practical in Iraq, and in some of these other issues that prove to be so divisive in the primary? How does he do that, Melissa? MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I think the first thing he's got to do is choose to get some successes on some consensus issues right away. So we were talking in the break about infrastructure, how important rebuilding American infrastructure is, and how critical that is to our national security, and it could be a potential source of creation of jobs. It's a way of doing government spending without making angry the right.
So he can start by picking some consensus issues, getting some big wins on those, where people on the left and right are excited about it. It will give him a little more leeway for making the hard choices farther down the line.
CHETRY: What do you think, Lisa? Do you think if he starts by spending more money, because infrastructure is still spending more money, he's going to curry favor with people that are more conservative?
LISA CAPUTO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think spending money on infrastructure is one thing, but you have to look at it in a broader economic context. And I think that there's just no question, one of the first things he has to do is name his economic policy team, and he has to figure out how he's going to handle this new $700 billion bailout bill for Wall Street and the financial services industry, because people are going to be looking to see how he handles our economic issues. That's going to define everything. And let's remember one thing, too, campaigning is different than governing.
CAPUTO: And I really believe that Obama will govern from the middle. And I think most successful presidents govern from the middle, that they're not to one extreme or the other. And when you come into a situation like this, where you have an outgoing president at 27 percent approval and a Congress with even lower percent approval, he has a clean slate to really tackle issues right from the get-go.
CHETRY: And I want to ask you about this, Tara, you talked about and we talked about before, do you think the media was soft on Obama? Or do you think that either the media helped Barack Obama, if you will, during the campaigning? Are they going to turn as critical an eye as they did to, let's say Bill Clinton, or you know, some of the other presidents coming in for the first time as they will on Barack Obama?
TARA WALL, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it depends on who the media is. I mean, when, you know, you kick the three media outlets off your plane who didn't endorse you, and when Biden, you know, got into a little tiff with one of the reporters, I think it's dependent on -- it's a two-way street how the media is treated as well.
But you know, look, I think right now, this is a euphoric time, and it's a honeymoon period. I think there will be time for critical analysis. Obviously, there are going to be some very tough issues that he's going to have to face from the war on terror and the troops -- Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan.
He's not going to be able to issue these tax cuts, I don't believe, right away. I think he's even said that. And I think it's given that Democrats obviously are not going to have that filibuster- proof majority they think they're going to have. He's going to have to work with even some of those moderate Republicans and those blue dog Democrats. So, I think there'll be enough time to take a critical analysis, the media and others --
CHETRY: OK. Let me get Ed the last word before we have to go. What do you think about whether or not he's going to be able to work with conservatives and work with Republicans?
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, there are not many Republicans, and I think that's the critical part of this. The untold story that we haven't gotten to yet is the deep loss in the congressional seats, and there's no place for us to go.
We've rebuilt our party in the south. We're now a southern party. The great thing about this is this was a massive victory. You can't go back and second guess the McCain campaign and the rest of it. He won.
It's the legacy of Bush, and it's his great ability to communicate with the American voters. So, I think he's going to have an opportunity to really move the ball forward.
CHETRY: All right. Thanks to all of you on the panel.
And up next, reaction to Barack Obama's win around the world from on the Far East to the Arab world, as well and beyond. How the president-elect is being received.
You're watching the "Most Politics in the Morning."
ROBERTS: Coming up now on 24 minutes after the hour. President- elect Barack Obama with a global message during his victory speech last night at Chicago's Grant Park.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: And all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared. The new dawn of American leadership is at hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: And all around the world, they are celebrating Obama's victory. CNN State Department correspondent Zain Verjee joins us now with more on the reaction from beyond America's shores. Middle of the night, I got a call from a friend of mine in Beirut who said, "We're in love with America again." There's a lot of that sentiment around the world, but there are some nations out there that, well, aren't prepared to give them any kind of honeymoon, right?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. There is one country that just refused to congratulate president-elect Barack Obama. Really, it was a splash of cold water for both the incumbent president and the new president.
Russia is using this historic moment to just blast the U.S. President Medvedev is blaming the U.S. for the August conflict in Georgia and for the world financial crisis. Also today, Russia is announcing that it wants to deploy missiles to counter a U.S. missile defense plan. Russia saying what really has to happen now and what they want to see over the next month is to fix the relationship the U.S. has with Russia. That's really in (INAUDIBLE) and in bad shape.
ROBERTS: So, a splash of cold water in the face of president- elect Obama from Russia, but there were a lot of celebrations around the world.
VERJEE: A lot of celebrations, a lot of big hugs and love for president-elect Obama, for sure. It was massive all over the world. Just take a look at Japan, where there were shouts of "Obama, Obama, Obama!"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Obama! Obama! Obama!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERJEE: Take a look at Sydney. This is what happened when Obama was declared the winner.
People are so enthusiastic, John. I mean, what happened in this moment that we're seeing is that there was a transformational moment in U.S. foreign policy. Millions and millions of people around the world, countries look to the U.S. and basically erased the last eight years and are going to give president-elect Obama the benefit of the doubt. And they want to share in this moment with America.
ROBERTS: You know, I still -- when I see Wolf Blitzer in Australia, it's still surprises me. Expectations are very high for him, though, yes?
VERJEE: Yes. Yes. Expectations are absolutely huge. One former State Department official just called them stratospheric across the world, especially in Europe. President-elect Obama is really going to have to manage and prioritize things, and he's not going to be able to deal with all the crises and go 50 directions at once, especially with the world financial crisis.
The other thing, too, John, is that it's not just a one-way street. I mean, the world is expecting a lot from a president Obama, but the United States also has a right to expect a lot from the rest of the world, and at least for the time being give the U.S. the benefit of the doubt, give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt, and step up when the U.S. asks.
ROBERTS: Yes. Well, maybe what Russia said is just an indication of what lies ahead.
VERJEE: Yes. Right.
ROBERTS: Reality has a habit of slapping you in the face pretty hard when you're the new president.
ROBERTS: Zain Verjee, great to see you. Thanks so much.
Still to come, John McCain's defeat. McCain's message to his supporters after his failed comeback. We'll have that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR (voice-over): A new day in America.
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: This is your victory.
ROBERTS: The nation hands Barack Obama the White House in a truly historic election. Now the nation's first black president pledges to follow through on his message of change.
OBAMA: I promise you, we as a people will get there.
ROBERTS: The win, the reaction, and what lies ahead for this nation, as the democrats take over Washington.
OBAMA: It's been a long time coming, but tonight, change has come to America.
ROBERTS: You're watching a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: 30 minutes after the hour. A new chapter in presidential history and American history. Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States, blasting through a racial barrier. He will be the first African-American to ever hold the highest office in the land. Close to 250,000 people celebrated with the president and vice president-elect in Chicago's Grant Park last evening, and thousands flooded the streets outside the White House to welcome the verdict of the electorate.
Spontaneous celebrations broke out in the nation's capitol when Obama clinched the election. The world was watching as he promised to be everyone's commander in chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the republican party of the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values that we all share. And while the democratic party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.
As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "we are not enemies, but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help, and I will be your president, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN, ANCHOR: Senator John McCain also falling short on what would have been another remarkable political comeback. The American hero ran a historic campaign of his own and nearly brought the first woman vice president to Washington. McCain congratulated Barack Obama for writing a new chapter in America's story. CNN's Ed Henry joins us now from the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. Good morning, Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Kiran. Obviously, a crushing blow for republicans, but John McCain really handled it like a gentleman, went out with his head held high.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight I remain her servant.
HENRY (voice-over): He's seen the horrors of war, the pain of imprisonment and torture. So, it came natural for John McCain to accept the sting of mere political defeat with grace.
MCCAIN: The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him - (booing). Please.
HENRY: McCain went out of his way to say Barack Obama's victory helped turn the page on years of what he called "cruel and frightful bigotry" in America.
MCCAIN: This is a historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
HENRY: That section of the concession drew only tepid applause. From the crowd of republicans stunned by the landslide, and some shouted "no way" when McCain offered an olive branch to the president- elect.
MCCAIN: These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.
HENRY: McCain knows there will be plenty of second guessing about his decisions from the selection of Sarah Palin to his handling of the financial crisis.
MCCAIN: Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times.
HENRY: But the man who had been written off in the republican primaries only to rise again said he has no regrets.
MCCAIN: I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I'll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I'm sure I made my share of them, but I won't spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.
HENRY: Now, aides say that John McCain is now headed to his ranch in Sedona to hang out with some of his pals, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, who was a constant companion on the campaign trail, try to talk this through and figure out what's his next political move in terms of carving out issues in the Senate to work on. Also, there will be a lot of questions moving forward about Sarah Palin and her future in the republican party, Kiran.
CHETRY: A lot of questions, for sure. All right. Ed Henry, thanks so much.
And meantime, one of Barack Obama's earliest and most powerful supporters was in the crowd last night. It was Oprah Winfrey, and our Alina Cho caught up with her.
CHO: How does it feel tonight?
OPRAH WINFREY, CHAIRMAN, HARPO INC.: It feels like hope won. It feels like it's not just a victory for, obviously, Barack Obama. It feels like America did the right thing. It feels like there's a shift in consciousness. It feels like something really big and bold has happened here, like nothing ever in our lifetime did we expect this to happen! Something big just happened. It feels like - it feels like anything is now possible.
WINFREY: And I think that -
CHO: I'm a woman of color. You're a woman of color.
WINFREY: We're women of collar. CHO: But how does it feel? I mean, this is -
WINFREY: Well, you know, I think that the beautiful thing about Barack Obama is, you know, throughout this whole process, one of my favorite endorsements came from Colin Powell, when Colin Powell said he understands, Barack Obama understands that all villages matter. I mean it brought tears to my eyes, because I thought, yes, that is it. So, it doesn't matter -
CHO: Did that seal the deal for you?
WINFREY: Well, I was already sealed. I was the deal. I was in the envelope already. But this whole process for me has been something that I knew that this was the moment for me to stand up, regardless of, you know, whatever kind of, you know, heat I had to take or what people's responses would be. I knew this was the moment. This was the moment.
CHO: It's been a long 22 months, so what now?
WINFREY: The best is yet to come. I mean, listen, first of all, geeze, you know, if I - you know, if I have a chance to talk to him, interview him, I think -
CHO: I think you have a shot.
WINFREY: I think I might, but you know, I wonder, does he wake up in the morning and go, what have I gotten myself into? Because this country is in bad shape right now. But I think what he is going to do more than anybody else could is help us all to understand that it's not one person. It's not one person who's going to unify this country.
CHO: One more question. You've got this little thing called "The Oprah Show," but would you consider an ambassadorship?
WINFREY: Would I consider an ambassadorship? I have "The Oprah Show." I can honestly say this, I did this - I had no agenda. I had no agenda.
CHETRY: Oprah also went on to say that she picked out her inaugural ball gown already.
ROBERTS: Sure she will be the belle of the ball, no question about that. We want your feedback as part of our special election coverage this morning. Our quick vote question this hour - are there still red and blue states? Are there still red and blue states? Call our toll-free number, 866-979-vote. That's 866-979-8683. Or you can text your answer to 94553. That's 94553. We'll have a tally of your votes coming up a little bit later on this hour.
ROBERTS: Does America's first black president mean a seismic shift in the country's race relations? Ahead, we'll talk to Ohio's former secretary of state, Ken Blackwell, an African-American who supported John McCain.
ROBERTS: 41 1/2 minutes after the hour now. Race was a major issue during the campaign, before this election. So, what will a President Obama mean for race relations in America now that the election is over? Ken Blackwell is Ohio's former secretary of state. He also supported John McCain during the campaign. He joins me now this morning from Cincinnati. And it just so happens that the city and the county went for Barack Obama last night, a flip-around, Ken, from the way that it was in 2004. And I'm wondering, as a supporter of John McCain, how are you feeling this morning?
KEN BLACKWELL, FMR. OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I feel good about this country. In 232 years, we have proven once again that we are the most vibrant democracy, the most diverse democracy in all of human history. Look, he - president-elect Obama ran almost a flawless campaign. He did it the old-fashioned way. He ran a contested primary. He survived, and he moved on. And he had a stunning victory last night. Now it's time, as he has indicated, for us to come together and deal with the world that is still dangerous and often hostile to our country. And we have a troubled economy. We are not going to get it playing the politics of division. We have to play the politics of multiplication. So, I think this is a real important point in American history.
ROBERTS: So what do you think it means for race relations in this country? We were talking to you just the other day, and you were suggesting that maybe it's the first step towards a post-racial America. What are you thinking this morning?
BLACKWELL: I'm thinking the same thing. And John, when I started to understand it, it was back during the primary, when the late Stephanie Tubbs-Jones and Maya Angelou supported Senator Hillary Clinton in the race against Senator Barack Obama. And I said to myself, you know, boy, we are moving to a point where we can move past skin color and racial heritage to look at world view and going out there and supporting the person that we think is best suited for the job.
ROBERTS: Wouldn't that be nice if we could really do that? However, at the same time, there is always politics. And last night, in his victory speech in Grant Park, Senator Obama said that he is going to be the president for all Americans. Let's listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: OK. So, there's the idea that he wants to be everybody's president, but you've got a democrat in the White House, then you've got a democratic control of Congress, not quite a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, but are you confident that he will reach out across party lines to form coalitions?
BLACKWELL: Well, that's yet to be seen. The reins of power are clearly in the hands of the democratic party. Now, I'll tell you, we can't solve our economic problems, we can't become - remain the world's lone superpower without a United America. So, the challenge is going to be, look, can we continue to be the loyal opposition, meaning the republicans? Overnight, we didn't all become democrats. We don't all share the same view on the sanctity of life and the role of government in our lives.
BLACKWELL: But we do owe our future and our children the ability to say, look, our differences pale when compared against the challenges we face as a people, as a nation. He used the term - he didn't use the Latin term E Pluribus Unum, but he said, look from many one. We are one nation and we are at our best when we understand that.
ROBERTS: I'm sure you'll be keeping a close eye on that to make sure he lives up to that. Ken Blackwell, good to see you this morning. Thanks so much.
BLACKWELL: Thanks, John.
CHETRY: You know, some of Barack Obama's biggest supporters are some of Hollywood's biggest stars and our own Lola Ogunnaike was with some celebrities that were doing some major celebrating about the man that they helped elect.
CHETRY: Time now to check the results of our quick vote question. Are there still red states and blue states? Well, 56 percent of you say yes, 44 percent say no. Literally, thousands of you voted. So, thanks! We'll have another quick vote coming up in the next hour.
ROBERTS: And more now on last night's race. We wanted to get the perspective of Frank Sesno, CNN's special correspondent and Christiane Amanpour, our chief international correspondent who just happened to be in Times Square last night when the call for the election came down. What was it like to be there?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was remarkable, as you've seen the celebrations, the mass turnout in the streets. You know, it reminded me, John, of some of the incredible, historic elections that I've covered overseas, whether it be the first-time democratic elections in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in South Africa. The lines at the polling stations, the patience, the happiness to be standing in line, and then this out pouring. It was really historic. It was really amazing to see it, almost like a first-time democracy. ROBERTS: Yes. I mean, the fact that so many people spilled into the streets outside of the White House last night was a scene that I've never seen before.
FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: You know I teach at the George Washington University, which is four blocks from the White House, and I got texts and e-mails from my students last night who are heading to the White House. And one of them this morning sent me a whole series of videos and pictures, and he talked about how they were, you know, arm to arm and people in strollers and senior citizens and they were part of something so much larger than themselves. I can't recall a time when this has happened on America's streets involving a political event. As you say overseas, not here.
ROBERTS: You know, we had an interview with Colin Powell just recently, in a dinner I attended back, I guess, in the late spring. He was saying that he hopes that the next president, whoever it is, resists the urge to get drawn into the latest crisis of the day and tries to re-engage America with the world. Do you think that senator, president-elect Obama will be able to do that?
AMANPOUR: I think he will. Because he'll start out with a huge reservoir of goodwill. Certainly, in Europe, already all the leaders there are calling not only congratulation messages but calling for a re-engagement of American leadership, a re-engagement in terms of cooperation and compromise with allies and even from adversaries, some of the more tricky, challenging countries, Iran has already sent its statement. For instance, one of the deputy speakers of the parliament who said that Obama can change what he called the defeated Bush policies and in doing so can play an important role in future relations between the U.S., Middle East and Asia. This is very important, because those secretaries of state including Colin Powell have put Iran at the top of an agenda calling for the next president to engage and in many, many other similar issues.
ROBERTS: Of course, Iranian leadership you'll recall that about 15 months ago during the debate, then Senator Obama promised that he would meet with the leadership of the country within a year of taking office.
AMANPOUR: This is a little bit of a straw man. He's did say that. He's worked that back. The real issue is engaging without preconditions. Engaging in relations.
ROBERTS: But he never walked back the timetable though.
AMANPOUR: No, and the secretaries of states, from Kissinger to Colin Powell to Jim Baker to Madeleine Albright, all have all called for an engagement without preconditions at a level, not necessarily presidential.
ROBERTS: So we have plaudits from Iran at the same time, you know, Russia's leadership took a glass of cold water and said welcome to the club. SESNO: Even the Europeans who are very excited about this, if the vote had taken place in Europe, Obama would have won six months ago, 10:1. But the president of the European Commission today is saying we look forward to working with President Obama, but we look forward to being, you know, in a real, meaningful relationship. The Europeans, it's not just about engaging the world, it's not just about leading, listening, it's about letting others take a role. Others who feel that they've been locked out of a process or have been taken for granted in the last several years.
ROBERTS: There's going to be a lot testing going on.
SESNO: I think there's going to be a lot of testing.
AMANPOUR: Let's not forget the monumental mess that he inherits. Two hot wars ongoing, huge challenges - the massive global financial crisis, huge, huge. Some were saying you know, people inevitably those celebrating his victory are going to be disappointed as well because he's got so much on his plate, but there's a massive reservoir of goodwill.
ROBERTS: Expectations are high.
SESNO: And expectations are especially high overseas I think because of the contrast and the realities in terms of dollars and in terms of where the power is and where the influence will be.
ROBERTS: Right. We better wrap it here. But thank you very much.
SESNO: Thank you.
ROBERTS: -- for your analysis.
AMANPOUR: It says a lot about America to the world.
ROBERTS: It does. Eight minutes at the top of the hour.
ROBERTS (voice-over): After an epic evening in American history.
OBAMA: Change has come to America.
ROBERTS: James Carville live. What he says president-elect Barack Obama must do to unite the country.
Plus, inside the election-night parties.
MCCAIN: The American people have spoken. And they have spoken clearly.
ROBERTS: The drama, and the tears. You're watching a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hi, I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, Germany, where the props for the election-night parties are slowly coming down. Many people here in the German capital celebrated Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel good! Like I know that I would so good.
PLEITGEN: And not only German entertainers, Chancellor Angela Merkel also congratulated Barack Obama. She says she hopes the U.S. and Europe will work closely together to tackle the world's problems and she invited Obama to come visit Germany soon.
AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Al Goodman in Madrid where Spain's leading radio network took the extraordinary step of not broadcasting two important football matches Tuesday night, so they could cover the U.S. election results. And the results seem to please a lot of Spaniards.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'm happy. That it's a good thing, so it will be good for everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is very important victory for Europe and for America.
GOODMAN: Spanish newspaper headlines call it a time of change, of hope, and of dreams come true. Spain's socialist government, which has had cool relations with President Bush, is hoping there will be warmer relations with President Obama.
CHETRY: Well, this morning President-elect Barack Obama begins to write a new chatter in American history. We know that John McCain tried to run away from President Bush and his unpopular presidency during the campaign. But exit polls suggest that he really couldn't get far enough away from the President's baggage. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is looking at that for us this morning. It was awn uphill climb for McCain when it comes to that.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it certainly was. And President Bush played a key role in this election in uniting the country against him. Look at the Americans who disapproved of bush. This was 71 percent of Americans said that they disapproved of Bush. Here's how they voted in the country as a whole. Two-thirds of them voted for Barack Obama. So, really united the country against him and, of course, the major reason there was the economy.
Look at these people up here who said their family financial situation has gotten worse. If we can get it to happen. There it is. The country as a whole. These are people whose family's financial situation has gotten worse.
CHETRY: Actually, that's the same.
SCHNEIDER: It's the same. It's a little high to reach.
SCHNEIDER: It's a little high to reach. So, let's try it again. Family's financial situation worse is up there. There it is. And in the country as a whole, that's Maryland. In the country as a whole we have a little reaching. There it is. There it went again. Aha, 70 percent for Barack Obama. People whose financial situation has deteriorated, which is almost half the country voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama.
CHETRY: You know, a lot of the things that people were bringing up was whether or not the race, in what ways race could play a role in how people vote. What did you find?
SCHNEIDER: We found that race probably helped Obama as much or more than it damaged Obama in this election. Take a look at people who said the race of the candidate was an important factor in my decision, an important factor of how to vote. In the country as a whole, they voted for Obama by a margin 53 percent to 46 percent over McCain. You know -
CHETRY: In this instant, it helped him.
SCHNEIDER: It helped him. I grew up in the segregated south, like millions of Americans, I am saying to myself, I never thought I'd live to see the day. We have lived to see the day.
CHETRY: Bill Schneider, with a good look of this for us. Thanks so much.