Return to Transcripts main page


Obama Senate Replacement Issue Settled?; President Bush Opens Up

Aired January 12, 2009 - 20:00   ET


Tonight, President Bush opens up as never before in what he calls the ultimate exit interview.

Bullet point number one: the president's final White House news conferences. He was humorous, sarcastic, defensive, angry, thoughtful, but, most of all, candid, perhaps more than ever, about the last eight years.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People say, "Well, there you are in Crawford, on vacation." You never escape the presidency; it travels with you everywhere you go.


BROWN: You will hear what he thinks that he and other Republicans could have done better and why the president is not apologizing for some of the grimmest moments of his time in power.

And bullet point number two tonight: an addition to the Obama inauguration that could bring some controversy. An openly gay bishop will deliver the opening prayer at Sunday's first inauguration event. Is there a message there, after President-elect Obama asked gay marriage opponent Pastor Rick Warren to speak on the big day itself?

Bullet point number three: What seemed like a political suicide mission now looks like a done deal. Roland Burris will likely be seated in the U.S. Senate by the end of the week. Senate leaders who said they would stop the Illinois Democrat named by embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich now agree he has the credentials needed to fill Obama's old seat.

And bullet point number four tonight: Britain's Prince Harry touches off a firestorm again. He makes racial comments to his fellow soldiers on a videotape that he shot himself. Harry has apologized, but it may not be enough to stop yet another royal scandal. We will hear from royal -- from veteran royal Tina Brown of "The Daily Beast." She will be with us a little bit later.

First, though, "Cutting Through The Bull."

Much of President Bush's news conference today was a defense of the many controversial decisions of his presidency, though much of it was also reflective, with the president showing a willingness to admit and to talk about the serious mistakes made by this administration.

But, on one topic in particular, he seemed almost entirely disconnected still from what really happened. As someone who spent many days in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I was taken aback when I listened to what he said today about the government's response.



BUSH: People say, "Well, the federal response was slow."

Don't tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed.

You know, I remember going to see those helicopter drivers, Coast Guard drivers, to thank them for their courageous efforts to rescue people off roofs -- 30,000 people were pulled off roofs right after the storm moved through. That's a pretty quick response.

Could things have been done better? Absolutely. Absolutely.

But when I hear people say the federal response was slow, then what are they going to say to those chopper drivers or the 30,000 that got pulled off the roofs?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Now, many people will disagree over many aspects of the Bush legacy. But on the government's handling of Katrina, it's impossible to challenge what so many of us witnessed firsthand, what the entire country witnessed through the images on our television screens day and night.

New Orleans was a city that for a time was abandoned by the government, where people old and young were left at the New Orleans Convention Center for days with no food, with no water. We were there. The whole country saw what was happening. The people stuck on their roofs were one part of a massive catastrophe.

But there was so much else that the government didn't do. To this day, the city is fighting for its life.

Mr. President, you cannot pat yourself on the back for that one. We will debate the war in Iraq, debate national security, the economy, and the rest of your legacy. And those debates will continue for years to come. But on how you handled Katrina, there's no debate.

Now, whatever you may think of President Bush, we all learned a lot from this morning's very revealing news conference. The president covered a lot of ground, starting here with the war that defines his presidency.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: When the history of Iraq is written, historians will analyze, for example, the decision on the surge.

The situation was -- looked like it was going fine, and then violence for a period of time began to throw -- throw the progress of Iraq into doubt.

And rather than accepting the status quo and saying, "Oh, it's not worth it," or "The politics makes it difficult," or, you know, "The party may end up being -- you know, not doing well in the elections because of the violence in Iraq," I decided to do something about it and sent 30,000 troops in as opposed to withdrawing.

And so that part of history is certain, and the situation did change.

I have often said that history will look back and determine that which could have been done better or, you know, mistakes I made.

Clearly, putting a "mission accomplished" on an aircraft carrier was a mistake. It sent the wrong message. We were trying to say something differently, but, nevertheless, it conveyed a different message.

Abu Ghraib, obviously, was a huge disappointment, during the presidency.

You know, not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment.


BROWN: He also talked a lot about the economy, the president talking about turning away from his own free market principles, hoping to keep the financial meltdown from getting even worse.



BUSH: I have told some of my friends who've said -- you know, who have taken an ideological position on this issue, you know, "Why'd you do what you did?"

I said, "Well, if you were sitting there and heard that the depression could be greater than the Great Depression, I hope you would act too," which I did.


BROWN: When he was asked about the Democratic election sweep, the president remembered 1964, when his own father, running for Senate, was one of many Republicans crushed at the polls. The GOP soon bounced back, and Mr. Bush expects another Republican resurgence, if the party learns to grow.


BUSH: This party will come back. And -- but the party's message has got to be that different points of view are included in the party.

And, take, for example, the immigration debate. That's a -- obviously, a highly contentious issue.

And the problem with the outcome of the initial round of the debate was that some people said, "Well, Republicans don't like immigrants." Now, that may be fair or unfair, but that's the image that came out.


BROWN: He also talked about how much he enjoyed being president, rejecting the image of being suffocated in an Oval Office bubble.


BUSH: I believe the phrase "burdens of the office" is overstated. You know, it's, kind of, like, "Why me?"


"Oh, the burdens," you know."Why did the financial collapse have to happen on my watch?"

It's just pathetic, isn't it, self-pity?

And I don't believe that president-elect Obama will be full of self-pity.


BROWN: The most recent CNN/Opinion Research poll right now shows that barely one-quarter of all Americans approve of the job President Bush is doing. Two-thirds say he should stay out of public life after he leaves the White House, had enough.

Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley watched this morning's news conference. She's joining us right now.

And, Candy, you covered the entire Bush presidency. You interviewed the president just a few weeks ago. Who was the George Bush you saw today?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Those were all the George Bushes, very defensive, as you said, on a number of things, from Katrina to how the world now views the U.S. as a result of his policies.

You saw humor. You saw a little bit of reflection. That's not what he does very well, but some of that. But I have to tell you, between the interview that I had with him and watching him today, what really stands out to me is there is a bit of melancholy in this. I saw a melancholic president, which is different from nostalgia. This is not -- you just cited those numbers -- this is not how he saw his administration ending.

BROWN: And, Candy, obviously, he's leaving office deeply unpopular. What do you see him doing when he gets back to -- well, not Crawford -- as we understand now, Dallas?

CROWLEY: He's anxious to get out of the limelight. So, all those people who want him to stay out of public view for a while -- I think it's been, particularly over the past couple of months, pretty obvious that this has worn on him. We all talk about how a president looks when he comes into office and when he leaves.

But he has mentioned several times, I want to go and have as normal a life as I can.

He talked today about getting out of the klieg lights. They have been very harsh on him. So, you will not see much of George Bush. I suspect, at some point, he will write a book.

BROWN: All right, Candy Crowley for us tonight -- Candy, thanks.

And this afternoon, President Bush asked the TV networks for a slice of prime time to deliver his farewell address to the nation. That's going to be 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday. We will have that for you live, followed immediately by NO BIAS, NO BULL. And that's Thursday, 8:00 Eastern time, right here.

Can President Bush talk his way into a better legacy? Was that, in part, what he was trying to do today? Our panel is going to be with us next to debate that.

Plus, what does it say about Barack Obama that his inaugural events now include a bishop who is gay, a pastor who says gays should not marry?

And Prince Harry apologizing yet again for doing something many would have to be a sign of hate, this time caught on tape. Why can't this young man third in line to the throne contain himself?



BUSH: There is no such thing as short-term history. I don't think you can possibly get the full breadth of an administration until time has passed.


BROWN: Well, Mr. President, time has passed, not as much as you had in mind, I suppose, but pretty nearly a whole day.

So, we're going to ask our panel at least to begin taking measure of the Bush administration.

Joining me right now, CNN contributor Stephen Hayes, senior writer for "The Weekly Standard," CNN political analyst Roland Martin, and Mark Halperin, "TIME" magazine editor at large and senior political analyst, with us here in New York.

Welcome, guys.



BROWN: So, let me just get your reaction, because this was pretty unusual, I thought, the range of emotion, the enormous amount of ground he covered.

Mark, what did you think watching?

MARK HALPERIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it was fascinating for those of us who have watched him over the years. This was letting it all hang out.

I think the greatest thing -- and Candy alluded to this earlier -- was the palpable frustration he felt. It was one last chance to try to make this case in this forum, in a press conference. And I think he recognizes that he has alienated, if not half of the country, pretty close to it. And I think there was frustration about that.

Every president, every politician wants to be loved, not detested by a larger and larger group of people. And I think he was frustrated. He showed that today.

BROWN: What did you think, watching it, Roland?

MARTIN: If President Bush had been this humble, if you will, if he had owned up to some of these mistakes a year ago, two years ago, I think people would look at him differently.

But he carried a cocky attitude, as if, I'm not worried about these particular things, I don't really care. So, all of a sudden, he is saying, it's a disappointment when it comes to weapons of mass destruction.

We all remember how he had a chip on his shoulder when we asked the question beforehand.

BROWN: Well, what did you think, Steve? Because it was striking, too. There was an endearing quality, because he was honest in a way I don't think we have ever seen him be about -- about certain issues.

STEPHEN HAYES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, he was, although not sure that, if he had admitted these mistakes before, Roland would have been standing on the side of cheering for George W. Bush.



MARTIN: Actually, Stephen, I do like a thing called honesty.

HAYES: No, I -- look, it was smart for him to be candid.

Some of us in Washington, people who have covered the White House, you can see him in these settings, usually, and then you go to these sessions with him where he's off the record or you interview him one-on-one, and you find a very different person.

And I think what I have had trouble actually just explaining to friends and family over the years is why George W. Bush that they see in press conferences, see seize up, tripping over his words, is so different from the guy that I have seen in these off-the-record sessions or in one-on-one interviews.

I think what we saw today, in effect, was George W. Bush off the record, but he was on the record. I mean, this was -- he's very comfortable. He seemed to be sort of happy to talk about these things. And you saw some of his feelings. You saw that he was frustrated, as Mark pointed out.

BROWN: But here is the thing, Steve. Clearly, this is about legacy shaping, to a certain extent. He's got a 27 percent approval rating. Is there anything he could possibly say at this point to change public opinion?

HAYES: No, I don't think that he probably could. I mean, they re doing as well as they can.

They're putting out -- I have gotten this thing that the White House is actually putting out. It's a 50-page glossy brochure which details the Bush legacy, as they want this first draft of history written. Now, some of it is good. I think some of it is pretty questionable. I agreed with you on Katrina. I think that's a very tough sell for him to say, well, because they rescued 30,000 people, the Katrina rescue effort wasn't slow.

We will bat this back and forth. And historians will do the same. And I think we will eventually settle on the legacy.


MARTIN: Campbell, one of the things that jumps out is his initiative in Africa. Frankly, I think the White House has done a poor job really talking about that.

I spent a year-and-a-half trying to get to these guys to talk to my black audience on TV One cable network and others. And they were like, well, we have pretty much moved on from that.

And, so, that's probably his biggest legacy, what he's been able to do there. And you say, what can improve it? A post-presidential initiative. You look at Jimmy Carter, not well-liked when he left, but people have a different view of Jimmy Carter today.

BROWN: But, Mark, in addition to what Roland pointed out, he's faced criticism in so many areas, national security, Iraq obviously, Katrina. Where do you see areas that, with time and a broader perspective, he will be redeemed? HAYES: Well, I think, if Iraq ends up panning out, if there is a democracy established there, and that beachhead sends democracy pulsating through the region, I think the president will be vindicated to some degree.

I think his greatest accomplishment and where he may be vindicated plays off of what Roland said, AIDS in Africa and also a general attempt to try to uplift people's sense of the importance of every human life, of every human spirit, not just in AIDS in Africa, but also No Child Left Behind, the importance of giving every child in the country a chance to learn, also, compassionate conservatism and trying to get faith-based groups involved in this country, and his pro-life and rhetoric and actions.

I think all of that adds up to a greater valuation of life than we have seen from most presidents recently.

BROWN: And, quickly, Steve, do you agree with that? What do you think...



HAYES: I don't. I don't. In fact, I think almost -- you could go down and tick off those things and I think those are areas where he will have been seen to have failed, with Africa being an exception.

I think he's likely to remembered as the president who kept America safe for seven years after September 11.

BROWN: A fair point, on the note.

OK, guys, we have got to end it there. Or, actually, you're going to stick around. We have got more to talk about after the break. Stay with me.

When we come back, we're going to talk about one of Obama's first priorities as president, new details about when he will shut down the prison at Guantanamo, why he wants to do it so quickly.

And, also, later, Tracy Morgan's Obama comment at the Golden Globes, just a joke or something more?


BROWN: Today, CNN learned that Barack Obama will issue an executive order as early as his first week in office to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

But there's no word yet on what will happen to the terror suspects being held there.

Here's what the president-elect told ABC News yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ABC NEWS) BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're going to close Guantanamo and we're going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution.

That's not only the right thing to do, but it actually has to be part of our broader national security strategy, because we will send a message to the world that we are serious about our values.


BROWN: But what will it take to actually shut down Guantanamo and how soon can it really happen? That's the question for our panel.

Back with us once again, Steve Hayes, Roland Martin, Mark Halperin.

Steve, you know, we were just talking about Bush. It's so interesting, Bush being so defined by Guantanamo in so many ways, and it's almost going to be one of the first acts of an Obama presidency shutting it down, or at least taking a step in that direction.

How important is it that he do this, given the rhetoric he devoted to it during the campaign?

HAYES: Well, I think it's -- this is the first easy step. Shutting it down and announcing that you're going to do it within the week, making the announcement within the first week, I think, is the easy part.

The tough part comes when we try, as you say, to figure out, what comes next with these folks? You have got the Obama transition team right now poring over the records of these detainees to try to figure out which ones we release, which ones we try to repatriate to other countries, which ones we try, which ones we hold here. And there are serious and very, I think, complicated issues involved in doing that.

BROWN: And, Mark, do they have any idea how to do this? I mean, it's easy to sign an executive order, but then what?

HALPERIN: Well, I think they will start with the easy ones. As Stephen said, some can be repatriated back to their countries. Some countries have already shown a willingness to sort of cooperate with the new president-elect -- president of the United States and take back people.

Some of them will be tougher, how to try them. I think the details won't matter. It's the symbolism of what Barack Obama does here, first of all, a quick executive order, but also then following through, and not just -- Guantanamo gets a lot of attention -- but in a range of areas, he's going to have to have a balance between national security and civil liberties.

He clearly will want a balance more toward civil liberties than George Bush did. The question is how much. And can he afford to do anything that suggests a weakness? I think you saw in the remarks he made to ABC that he's going to tilt a little bit back toward national security. He doesn't want to start off on the wrong foot.

MARTIN: Campbell...



MARTIN: .. this is a perfect example of why he kept this in place by having Robert Gates continue as secretary of defense, because they are able to have a continuity there.

There's not only that. When you talk about who to let go, remember, there are some people who were held over there who were never charged, who were never involved in anything, but they were held for a number of years. And so it makes sense to say, if we believe in the values of America, we should make this move.

But announcing you're going to close it down doesn't mean that you're going to put locks on the thing in a couple of days. It will take some time to make it all happen.

BROWN: Let me move on to another issue before we run out of time here.

We also learned today, Steve, that Obama has chosen an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, to give the invocation at the inaugural kickoff on Sunday. And people will remember it was only a few weeks ago gay rights groups were pretty outraged when Obama picked Pastor Rick Warren, who of course campaigned against gay marriage in California, to say the prayer at the inauguration. Is this a way of placating everybody?

HAYES: Well, I think the Obama people would tell you that they had planned on having the second pastor give this prayer all along and that it is not in fact a reaction.

But I think they raised -- this raises some important, I think, questions for them. If they're seen -- if the perception is that they're giving in to an interest group or placating an interest group because they have had well-organized outcry about the original selection of Rick Warren, that could be a problem for them.

BROWN: Why court controversy at all with both of these choices?

HALPERIN: If you are president like Bill Clinton and like George Bush, who is polarizing, if the country remains polarized, this kind of stuff looks horrible and will alienate both sides.

If you are a different kind of president, as he aspires to be, if you bring together people in the center, if you separate right-wing radio talk show hosts from Republican politicians in Washington and Republicans at large and bring them to the center, this kind of stuff is great and inclusive.

If things go bad, though, if he loses control of the sense of unity, this kind of stuff I think would hurt him long term. BROWN: But, right now, it works?

HALPERIN: I think it does right now.

BROWN: Do you agree, Roland?


MARTIN: Campbell, January 21, nobody is going to remember who the heck gave a prayer. They are going to be talking about his presidency.

He also has a woman who's going to leading his prayer service. And, so, what do you know about that? Are we going to hear Baptists say, hey, there's no Baptists or Catholics represented among all of these preachers here?


MARTIN: The bottom line is, people are not going to really care at the end of the day who gave a prayer.

BROWN: A controversy or a non-controversy?

All right, we will see. We have got to end it there. Guys, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

When we come back, a case of royal-foot-in-mouth disease, Prince Harry in trouble again. We're going to tell you why, this time, an apology may not be enough to calm the uproar.

And, then, later, Barack Obama's Cabinet picks head to Capitol Hill. Will their confirmation hearings be a slam dunk or a speed bump? Who faces the toughest challenge? We will take a look when we come back.


BROWN: Tonight, Senate Democrats wave the white flag of surrender in their battle with Roland Burris.

Burris of course is the man disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich picked to succeed Barack Obama. This morning, Majority Leader and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said the Senate would accept Burris' credentials and seat him later this week.

In a news conference just a little while ago, Burris told reporters he's ready to take office.


ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS SENATOR-DESIGNEE: I have no regrets for what I went through. It's made me more humble and made me to be prepared to work harder to serve the people of my state.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: So, that's one down, but there are still major battles looming on Capitol Hill.

And, for that, we turn to national political correspondent Jessica Yellin.

And, Jessica, tell us what happened here. Did Senate Democrats ultimately decide that battling Burris was more trouble than it was worth?


The Senate Democrats basically walked into a trap on this one, Campbell. Say what you want about Blagojevich, but he was smart. Burris was lawfully named by a sitting governor. He was untainted by scandal. And by blocking him, all the Democrats did was create a bizarre media circus that distracted from their own agenda.

The irony here is that Blagojevich won this round because he followed the letter of the law. It made the Democrats look like they were trying to bend the rules. And they finally figured out it's not a fight worth winning.


BROWN: I know.

And, Jessica, with Burris now out of the way, the Senate is starting hearings on some of the president-elect's more high-profile Cabinet appointments. You're hearing one nominee might be in for more of a grilling than expected. Tell us what your sources are telling you.

YELLIN: Right.

Let's first start with the big one. Hillary Clinton's hearing is tomorrow. And everyone expects that to have fireworks. I certainly expect her to get some sharp questions about her husband's Middle East donors and about comments she made about Barack Obama during the campaign.

But you know she will be thoroughly prepped, and everyone thinks she will get the nod.

The other hearing expected to be fiery is for the attorney general nominee, Eric Holder. He will face some prickly questions about choices he made when he served as a deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton. But, again, it will be fiery. They expect him to get confirmed.

The hearing that, surprisingly, could produce the most tension is for a guy we just don't hear much about, Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary nominee. Now, he ran the New York Federal Reserve. That means he was partly responsible for the decision to let one of the nation's major investment banks, Lehman Brothers, fail. Some think that accelerated the financial crisis we're in. He was also there when Wall Street asked for all that bailout money.

So, Obama thinks all this experience is a plus, but some on Capitol Hill think it's what got us deep into this mess. And they're going to demand some answers to some awkward questions for him. So, that is one to watch.

BROWN: Absolutely. Jessica Yellin with all the scoop up for us up on the Hill tonight. Jessica, thanks.

And we should let you know CNN will provide live coverage of Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing. That starts tomorrow morning, 9:30 Eastern time.

And coming up, a developing story about the plane crash that has turned into a bizarre mystery. The pilot made an emergency call just before the plane went down and then, he just disappeared. What happened? Stay tuned for the surprising answer.

And in Washington, inaugural preps are well under way. Event planners aren't leaving anything to chance. They even tapped an Obama stand-in for a full-blown dress rehearsal. What Obama had to say about it, coming up.


BROWN: Still to come, Prince Harry caught on tape making jaw- dropping racial comments. Find out what he said and how the royals are handling the fallout. First, though, Tom Foreman has "The Briefing" tonight -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Campbell. We have breaking news tonight from Texas where an Army Black Hawk helicopter has crashed at Texas A&M University killing one passenger, injuring four others. It happened during a training demonstration in front of nearly 200 ROTC cadets.

A pilot is believed to be on the run after his plane crashed in the Florida Panhandle. Marcus Schrenker's investment business in Indiana was already under investigation for securities violations. Sheriff's deputies say he called in a phony Mayday message saying his small plane's windshield had blown apart and that he was bleeding. Authorities believe Schrenker then abandoned the plane in midair bailing out with a parachute.

Bernie Madoff gets to stay at his luxury New York apartment. At a bail hearing, prosecutors failed to convince the judge that the investment guru accused of a $50 billion Ponzi scheme should be locked up. Madoff and his wife shipped expensive jewelry to family and friends. Prosecutors say he planned to send out up to $300 million in assets.

Joe the plumber gets an unusual token of appreciation in Israel. Joe Wurzelbacher was given a mock missile signed by an Israeli plumber after interviewing the mayor of a city hit by Hamas rockets. The last-minute star of the 2008 presidential race is reporting on the war in Gaza for a conservative Web site. And speaking of getting a new job, well, if you're willing to travel, here's a good one. Australia's Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef needs a new caretaker. It's called the best job in the world. You'll spend all of 12 hours a month feeding turtles and watching whales while living in a three-bedroom home said to have unbeatable views of the beach. And the pay is pretty good too, just over $100,000 for a six-month assignment. I don't know what the catch is, Campbell.

BROWN: I want it.

FOREMAN: It sounded too good to be true. Yes.

BROWN: What do I do?

FOREMAN: We're going to split it. You get the first six months.

BROWN: Where do I send my resume?

FOREMAN: I'll take the second six.

BROWN: OK. Tom Foreman with a good story tonight. Tom, thanks very much.

Coming up, how Barack Obama is transforming Washington into the land of Lincoln. No, they're not making it over to resemble Illinois, but you will see here and maybe even taste lots of throwbacks to the 16th president. Details to on our "Welcome to the White House" coming up.

And with a prime time comedian using the next president for a punch line at the Golden Globes, or did he deliver a serious message?


BROWN: President-elect Obama checked off another item on his pre-inauguration to do list today, meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Since the 1980s, incoming presidents have met with Mexico's chief executive before taking office. The Obama transition team also announced plans for his first international trip. He's going to Canada.

With just eight days to go until the Obama inauguration, tickets are sold out. Yesterday thousands of people got to take part in the next best thing, the dress rehearsal.

Erica Hill is here with more on tonight's "Welcome to the White House" special inaugural edition.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a good way to get a little taste of the inauguration even if you can't be there.

BROWN: It's getting exciting.

HILL: I'm excited too. It's going to great. A full run through the inauguration kicking off at 6:00 a.m. complete with a parade, music and stand-ins for the Obama family, both parents and little girls. The stand-in for the president-elect, Army Staff Sergeant Derrick Brooks. He was chosen because he resembles Mr. Obama in height, weight and skin color.

So what did the president-elect think about his doppelganger? Well, the two met last week. Obama reportedly told Brooks, your ears aren't big enough.

BROWN: That was kind.

You know on the campaign trail, he was very famous for eating very healthy, shunning all that high-calorie food, I think. But we're hearing now that these healthy habits, healthy-eating habits might be put on hold.

HILL: It may be a little tough these days because he's a busy man when it comes to food. Every meal these days is a political event. For lunch this weekend with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty at Ben's Chili Bowl where Obama ordered a half smoked hot dog with chili to no less than three dinners inauguration eve, including one for Senator John McCain honoring him for placing the interest of America before his political party.

Now, we wanted to know what Senator McCain thinks about the dinner but in the spirit of bipartisanship his office is directing all the inquiries, Campbell, back to the inaugural committee.

BROWN: Of course they are.

And finally, the Obamas taking a lot of cues for this inauguration from one president in particular.

HILL: That's right. We've heard so much about the connections between Obama and Abraham Lincoln. Well, they're even more to tell you about tonight.

The entire Obama family made an unannounced visit to the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday night. The memorial will look pretty different though next Sunday when a rally and concert are going to be held to kick off the official event. The following day, the president-elect will be sworn in on Lincoln's bible. Lincoln's -- even the inspiration for the official inauguration lunch and menu.

Get this -- the appetizer -- seafood stew. Lincoln loved oysters. The main course, how does peasant and duck with sweet potatoes sound? Foods that apparently Lincoln would have eaten on the frontier. As for desserts, apple cinnamon cake because, get this, Lincoln liked apples and cake. Yes.

Kidding aside though, the menu is actually based on historical documents and some old White House menus from the Lincoln era. The guests will even be dining on replica's of the Lincoln China chosen by Mary Todd Lincoln. It is also the favorite China of another former president we're told, John F. Kennedy. (CROSSTALK)


HILL: He likes apples and cakes. So hey, put them together.

BROWN: You made me really hungry.

HILL: OK, sorry. I shouldn't do that to a pregnant lady.

BROWN: Who's the pregnant woman? I know, exactly.

Erica Hill, thanks Erica.

Coming up, Britain's Prince Harry has gotten in trouble before. But the royal family's wild child, could he have finally gone too far this time? Will talk to royal watcher and author Tina Brown about what Harry said and why it made the father of a British soldier absolutely furious. That's when we come back.


BROWN: Shakespeare wrote, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," but he never mentioned the mouth with a great royal foot in it. In this case, the foot and the mouth belong to England's Prince Harry who is apologizing for a videotape he shot two years ago that has just come to light. And the footage is narrated by the prince himself using language that is particularly offensive to many people who speak the queen's English. And Randi Kaye is here to fill us in on all of this.

Hi, Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Campbell. This is getting a lot of attention. The video was obtained by the "News of the World" tabloid in Britain. It's posted on its Web site with a banner that reads, "Harry's racist video shame."

The tape begins with Prince Harry's unit gathered in an airport. Harry pans around then zooms in close to one soldier of Pakistani dissent. Listen to what the prince whispers behind the camera.


PRINCE HARRY, BRITISH ROYAL: Ahh, our little Paki friend... Ahmed.


KAYE: The slur he uses, "Paki," dates back to when Pakistani and Bangladeshi migrants were victims of verbal and physical abuse. It's a word long associated with racism and hate. Noting the video was from 2006, the royal family is playing defense.


DICKIE ARBITER, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: The man that Harry was three years ago is not the same person today.


KAYE: For his use of the term "Paki," the royal family says in a statement, "Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be and is extremely sorry for any offense his words might cause. However, Prince Harry used the term without any malice and as a nickname about a highly popular member of his platoon. There is no question that Prince Harry was in any way seeking to insult his friend."

But that soldier's uncle reportedly told British media today he expected better from the royal family and the words used by the prince were "definitely derogatory and insulting." Prince Harry's second questionable comment came when his camera focused on a soldier wearing camouflage over his head.


PRINCE HARRY, BRITISH ROYAL: (Expletive deleted) me, you look like a raghead. Look at me, look at me. Look away.


KAYE: The royal family did not even try to apologize for his use of the word "raghead" but instead try to explain it saying, "Prince Harry used the term 'raghead' to mean Taliban or Iraqi insurgent."

There are some lighter moments on the tape as well, like the one where the prince is smoking a cigarette and pretending to be talking to the queen of England, his grandmother, on his cell phone. He tells her sarcastically send my love to the corgis and grandpa and God save you.

Now, this all was taped in 2006 just a year after Prince Harry was criticized when pictures appeared of him at a party wearing this Nazi uniform you see there. He apologized for that too, telling Britain's press association, "It was a very stupid thing to do and I've learned my lesson."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it doesn't appear he has learned his lesson.

BROWN: Certainly did not. So what happens? Will he be disciplined by the army? Or --

KAYE: He may be. The case will be examined and investigated and reportedly be handled in line with any normal army procedures. Any other procedure would be handled. The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said today that he believed the prince's apology was genuine, that the public would give him the benefit of the doubt. The prime minister also said it's up to the army, Campbell, if it wants to discipline him.

BROWN: All right, Randi Kaye. Thanks very much, Randi, appreciate it. And joining me now to talk about the trouble with Harry is long- time royal watcher and author, Tina Brown. She is also the founder and editor in chief of," a fantastic Web site with the must reads of the day that we have all on this program become addicted to reading every day.

TINA BROWN, FOUNDER, "THE DAILY BEAST": I'm so glad to hear it.

BROWN: Good to have you here.

T. BROWN: Thank you.

BROWN: So what do you think -- first, give us a sense of how this is playing in Britain?

T. BROWN: It is really big news in Britain, you know. I mean, Harry -- people -- it's a kind of irresistible story for the tabloids that, you know, the second in line to the throne actually stood up to Prince Andrew but he is pretty much up there, has put his foot in his mouth again.

BROWN: And to even have the prime minister speaking out about it.

T. BROWN: It's really explosive. And one of the reasons it's explosive is because the whole issue of sort of racism in the armed forces in England is a very tender one. There's only 250 Muslims in the entire 1,800 British armed forces across the board, which is a tiny number. And there's recently been in the UK a real kind of recruiting drive to try to get Muslims to sign off and join the forces. But, of course, you know, with the feelings about the Iraq and Afghanistan, it's very hard to recruit them. So this is not exactly good news for them.

BROWN: Well, what do you think of this young man? I mean it's hardly the first time, Randi just walked us through. He has quite a track record here.

T. BROWN: And with Prince Harry -- the thing about Harry is he's very much a Spencer. You know, he's Princess Di's son, you know, in the sense that he is reckless, he is emotional. You know, he's kind of himself at all times whereas Prince William on the other side is much more of a Windsor. You know, he's far more sober. He's far more, you know, square and loves to sort of shoot and hunt and fish, and he's very much a Windsor.

But Harry is a little renegade and he actually he's a cutup. You know, he really is and this is how he is. He's also very popular, much more popular really than William because he is a real funny sort of, you know, out there kind of guy, very emotional. But he's a goodhearted boy, actually.

And I don't think he is a racist. I think it really speaks much more to the culture of the sort of cadets in the army when he was there at that time and still is, really. I don't think it's great in a way that they refer to Pakistanis as "Paki" and so forth, but I think it's very current. You know, I think that he's just being himself.

BROWN: You know, he and his brother have very different roles and sort of functions within that family, I guess. Do you think that affects his behavior and allows them to be sort of the renegade as you describe him?

T. BROWN: Well, you know -- you know, in fairness to him, you know, he's put in a difficult spot because he wants to be a regular army guy. You know, he wants to get on with his fellow soldiers.

It's a rough, tough out there kind of group of soldiers. They're using this kind of slang amongst themselves. And you know, he's just trying to be one of the boys and so he does. But then, you know, what is he going to do when he's caught on videotape and he's being viewed as a prince?

BROWN: Right.

T. BROWN: You know, if he behaves like a prince with his mates in the army, they're going to think he's Little Lord Fauntleroy. And if he behaves, you know, like the soldiers and he's caught on videotape, he's -- you know, people think that it's a disgrace.

BROWN: Quickly, do you think the response from the palace is strong enough?

T. BROWN: Probably not. But I don't know -- I mean, actually I think it would have been better if Harry had actually gone on television himself and just put this debate because he's such a charming, sweet guy. I think people would understand.

I think that the stiff statement wasn't a great idea. I think it's significant that Gordon Brown went out and made the statement today because that was very much about him telling his own MPs, and his own members of the cabinet, back off leave this alone. He's probably has the palace talking to him and saying please try to, you know, dab this down.

BROWN: Right. Tina Brown,, check it out. Definitely worth checking out. Good to have you here. Appreciate it.

And still to come, how did the president-elect get mixed up in Hollywood's Golden Globe awards by way of Tracy Morgan? We'll explain when we come back.


BROWN: We have a new development in a story we told you about earlier tonight. The Senate Democrats finally agreeing to swear in Roland Burris as the junior senator from Illinois. President-elect Obama has just put out a written statement. It refers to him as Senator Burris and says, "The president-elect has high regard for him and looks forward to working with him."

Looks like a done deal. We'll talk about this a little bit more tomorrow night. For all of you trying to lose those extra holiday pounds, LARRY KING LIVE has a little inspiration for you. It's coming up in just a few minutes. Larry, tell us who you've got tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You got it, Campbell. "The Biggest Losers" are here. They dropped a lot of weight, but have they kept it off? We'll check in with the fat-to-fit champs from seasons past.

And Bob and Jillian will tell us how the new season is going on their hit TV show. They have some good advice for all of us, too. Campbell, it's next, not that you need it on "LARRY KING LIVE."

BROWN: All right, Larry, thanks very much.

Anybody watching the Golden Globes last night would tell you that "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan stole the show. Morgan said that if Barack Obama can be president, well, then, he can accept "30 Rock's" Best Comedy trophy instead of the show's executive producer, Tina Fey.

Tonight, people still talking about what Morgan said. We're going to get right to that and all the other highlights of the show with Sharon Waxman, editor in chief of, an edgy news entertainment Web site that is launching next week, right?


BROWN: Congratulations.

WAXMAN: Thank you. Thank you.

BROWN: Good to have you here.

So I want to get your reaction to what Tracy Morgan said last night. Let's play it for everybody.


TRACY MORGAN, CO-STAR "30 ROCK": Tina Fey and I had an agreement that if Barack Obama won, I would speak for the show from now on. Welcome to post-racial America. I'm the face of post-racial America! Deal with it, Cate Blanchett. The black man can't get no love at the Emmys. I love you, Europe!


BROWN: I know he's a comedian and this was partially tongue in cheek. But he did seem to be making a larger point about diversity and race in Hollywood. What did you make of his comments?

WAXMAN: Well, it was interesting because he happens to be right. There isn't a lot -- there aren't a lot of black men at the Emmys. There aren't a lot of black women at the Oscars. There have been in recent years, but particularly on television, we don't see a lot of diversity.

You don't see a lot of Asian faces. You don't see a lot of Latino faces, America Ferrera notwithstanding with "Ugly Betty." So I think he was taking the opportunity to say here we have an African- American president taking office and maybe there can be some change in Hollywood too.

There's a recent report that came out that shows the numbers have actually dropped. There have been an attempt in recent years by the networks and the studios to try to kind of diversify more and then there's this recent study that came out that said that the numbers are down again.

BROWN: So they kind of dropped the ball or are they just --

WAXMAN: I think it's just -- it's a perennial problem. I think that their heart's in the right place. You know, Hollywood is a very liberal place.


WAXMAN: They want it all think they're diverse but if you actually look at the way things work, it just tends to be a kind of clubby atmosphere. And if there's not executives who are green lighting those programs who themselves are of minority status, it's just harder for them to kind of go there.

BROWN: Right.

The other thing, I think especially in recent years with the Bush administration, you said Hollywood is a very liberal place. These awards shows have become very political. People were using their acceptance or, you know, introduction speeches whatever as opportunity to make a political point. You didn't see it last night, though.

WAXMAN: Very little. There's a bunch of stuff going on in Hollywood that you would never have known despite the fact that the Golden Globes are on national television. First of all, you have a vote for a possible strike to bring the entire industry to a halt.

BROWN: Right.

WAXMAN: That's one thing that's really concerns the people who were there. You have a president, a historic moment about to happen next week and you'd never know about it.

I think that Hollywood has just been -- I mean, as I wrote on my blog today I really think that the ceremony felt kind of like an exercise and a relevancy in some ways. But it is not true that Hollywood is not completely plugged in and aware that there's about to be an inauguration. There's going to be tons of stars at the inauguration next week. They're completely psyched about having the Bush era being over and Obama beginning.

BROWN: Right.

WAXMAN: But you would not have known it from watching the Golden Globes last night.

BROWN: Just let's embrace the moment and be entertainers for a night.

WAXMAN: Let's just dress up.

BROWN: Yes. Maybe everybody needed it. All right. We appreciate it. Sharon Waxman, good to see you. Good luck with the Web site.

WAXMAN: Yes. Thank you.

BROWN: And here we are, just eight days from the inauguration. A major unanswered question still hanging over the Obama administration. What is it? It concerns the first dog.

And tonight we know that the president-elect has narrowed down the options. Coming up next, the canine finalists.



NOAH BEN DAVID, KADIMA HEBREW ACADEMY: Dear President Obama. Hi, I am 9 years old. My name is Noah. I want to say good job.

Can you find better medicine for people that have cancer by finding experts to create better medicine? Thank you for reading my letter. Sincerely, Noah Ben David.


BROWN: Good job, Noah. Fourth grader from West Hills, California. Nicely done there.

Tonight's "Bull's-Eye" going to two breeds of dogs you may never have heard of before. And it looks like one of them will be the next presidential pooch. Check what Barack Obama told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, ABC'S "THIS WEEK": What kind of dog are we getting and when are we getting it?

BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: They seemed to have narrowed it down to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Medium-sized dog.

OBAMA: Medium-sized dog. And so we're now going to start looking at shelters to see when one of those -- when one of those dogs might come up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're closing in on it.

OBAMA: We're closing in on it. This has been tougher than finding --

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: That would be the Labradoodle on the left, the Portuguese water dog on the right. We will let you know which one it is. That's it for us.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.