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Obama Faces Challenges After Inauguration; Inaugural Concert Draws Thousands to Mall; Singing Students Take Ultimate Field Trip

Aired January 18, 2009 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good evening from Washington, everyone.
I'm Don Lemon reporting live from the National Mall where it has been a day of remembrance, worship and celebration. I am joined by thousands of people from all over the world, all over the country.

The crowd is surrounding me and the excitement, you can see it. It is building. Less than two days until Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president.

You know, this morning, the president and vice president-elect traveled across the Potomac to Arlington National Cemetery. There they honored America's war dead by placing a wreath at the tomb of the unknown. And the Obamas then attended services at Washington's historic 19th Street Baptist Church. We're told they plan to visit more D.C. churches as they look for a new church home.

And look at this. Just hours ago, here on the mall, the celebration really got started. The Obamas and the Bidens attend a concert featuring actors Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington and musicians like Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen and U2. The President-elect also took the stage and he spoke to the crowd about the serious challenges facing all of us.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Along the way, there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our resolve as a nation. But despite all this, despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure. That it will prevail; that the dream of our founders will live on in our time.


LEMON: Well, you know what? The attention is on Barack Obama, but I've heard Barack Obama say recently this inauguration is really about the people, a celebration of the people. And that's what we're doing here on CNN.

We are celebrating the people who came here for this inauguration. And our Chris Lawrence has been talking with them on the National Mall.

Chris, they are excited to be here. It is cold, but they are warm in spirit.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Excited, Don. That is an understatement.

North Carolina, Mississippi, so many states are just represented here. And it's not just adults. It's a lot of kids, too. This family, where did you guys come from?



LAWRENCE: OK, from El Salvador.


LAWRENCE: And you decided to bring your kids down here. What's it been like? Walking the mall, seeing all these people out here. What has it been like for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been really great. Like really fun to like bring my little brothers here and like watch them have fun and like, yes.

LAWRENCE: You know, they are so young. They aren't really going to really even remember any other president other than a President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's like -- that would be a good memory for them because -- yes, like just like a good experience for me. So hopefully it's a good experience for them.

LAWRENCE: All right, you have plenty of kids out here. Don, I've got to tell you. The concert has been over. The stars have gone home. Even the Obamas have pretty much retired for the night. Yet all of these people are still out here having a great time.


LAWRENCE: A lot of excitement out here, Don.

LEMON: What do you mean the stars have gone home? You're here. The viewers are here. The viewer is a star. They are the star, man.

Give us a shout out. Where are you guys from? We're going to get everybody in. There we go. There we go. Where are you from?


LEMON: You know what? I like this because I like everybody to be involved. Involved online, involved on television. And now that we're here live on the Mall we want to get our viewers involved. They are excited. Very good.

Calm down now, guys. We want to talk about a very serious subject. Thank you very much. We know that Monday, which is tomorrow, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Right. One day before Barack Obama's historic inauguration. The proximity isn't lost on many this weekend; excitement, definitely building on many levels. You can see it and feel it here.

But the day after the inauguration, the President-elect will have to hit the ground running to deal with all of the challenges facing the nation. I want to bring in Mark Preston, he's our political editor.

Mark, celebration, yes, we need something good after the economy and all of that, wars, everything that's going on. But this is a reality check. The day after, he's got to get to it.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, absolutely. And in fact, after he's sworn in tomorrow at noon -- rather on Tuesday at noon, we are going to get to it because we'll see perhaps some of his cabinet choices actually confirmed by the senate.

Perhaps Hillary Clinton will be confirmed on Tuesday. That's not clear if that's going to happen but that could happen. They need to hit the ground running. We know there's a big problem of course over in Gaza. We have wars going on in Afghanistan and Iraq. There's a lot going on.

LEMON: This seems pretty fascinating. You say it's not out of the ordinary at least when it comes to a transition. They are right on track with most transitions.

PRESTON: They are right on track. And you have to give the Bush administration some credit for working with the Obama incoming administration to try to grease the skids, to try to get them in the office.

There's a lot on the plate for them. The stimulus package, they have to deal with Guantanamo. He's got to hit the ground running.

LEMON: There was that long trip yesterday, a 137-mile trip back from Philadelphia here to Washington. And we're watching the lights at Blair house went off very early last night because we hear Barack Obama has been working on finalizing his inauguration speech.

What might we hear from him when it comes to the speech on Tuesday?

PRESTON: Well, I think he's going to talk about personal responsibility. At least that's what we're hearing right now, we're looking at a speech now that will be about 20 minutes. He's going to say that all of us have some kind of role in where we are right now and all of us need to fix it.

LEMON: Drawing from history, people probably like Roosevelt and of course his mentor is past President Abraham Lincoln.

PRESTON: Yes, absolutely. I don't think it will be a terribly long speech. But 20 minutes out here in the cold tends to be long. LEMON: Yes.

PRESTON: We won't hear specifics about his programs. But we do know some specifics already. His transition team has already told us.

LEMON: Are we going to hear, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. What if -- everybody is wondering, what is he going to coin or is it going to be an "ask not" moment for JFK? So we're wondering, what is he going to coin come Tuesday? And I'm sure that's on his mind as well.

PRESTON: Yes, what is going to be the most memorable line that we actually take from him? But I will tell you, I know that his legacy, at least he believes this, is going to be a long-term legacy.

LEMON: Right.

PRESTON: That's why you see the likes of Hillary Clinton and others who were his competitors in the primary. He's brought them into his administration; he realizes this is a longer term problem. It won't just be a phrase for him. It's going to be fixing problems.

LEMON: This is a lot about what he speaks to, at least what he says about including everyone and not holding grudges and bringing everyone into the tent.

So at least it appears now that he is walking -- talking the talk and walking the walk.

PRESTON: He's talking a good game right now, Don, but he has to actually execute it.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely. People are hurting. The economy needs to be fixed. People are worried about their jobs. So he's got to get it going. Thank you very much, Mark Preston.

PRESTON: Thanks Don.

LEMON: Much appreciated.

PRESTON: I appreciate it.

LEMON: Stay warm.

Now we want to go to a very special story we have been following. And it's about a group of singing children. They were inspired by Barack Obama.

Some inner city kids have turned a civics lesson into a national Internet phenomenon. They are students from the Ron Clark Academy, a very special school in one of Atlanta's poorest neighborhoods.


STUDENTS: Dear Obama bop, bop, bop --

LEMON: Like the man who inspires them...

OBAMA: Yes, we can.

LEMON: ... they, too were underdogs who beat back the odds, with help from a man with a dream.

RON CLARK, FOUNDER, RON CLARK ACADEMY: The focus is on the kids, and that's where it should be. These kids, they worked really hard and they deserve this.

LEMON: Today, the Ron Clark Academy sets a standard for educating young people from troubled neighborhood, encouraging them to be creative. It all came together after Clark won the Educator of the Year award, wrote a book and went on the Oprah show.

CLARK: Oprah focused my book "The Essential 55" on her show. She held it up to the camera and said, everybody go out right now and buy this book. One hour after her show it was number two in the nation right behind Harry Potter. And we used the proceeds from that book to start this amazing school.

LEMON: Clark says he searched for the right place for months. Everyone thought he was crazy when he decide on a 100-year-old factory in one of Atlanta's roughest neighborhoods.

But it wasn't easy. He says the neighborhood crack cocaine addicts would steal supplies during the renovation. Yet he was determined.

CLARK: So I took my backpack and went to every house and I showed them the book and the movie. I'd see some houses that had crack heads sitting on the front porch. And I'd be scared to go up there.

And I'd walk up there and I say hello. They'd say are you Mormon? I'd say, no, I'm not Mormon, I'm a schoolteacher. And I show them the book and the movie and I told them about it.

And I got the same reaction everywhere I went that said you know what? If this school had been here when I was growing up, I could have been something. I would have been something.

LEMON: Now, two years later, it's paid off with some of the best students in Atlanta and the country; students who use the creative freedom of rap music to express their feelings about an historic election.

CHILDREN: Dear Obama hear us sing we're ready for the change that you will bring. Vote however you like.

LEMON: A parent put the video called "You Can Vote However You Like" on YouTube.

It went viral. TV news producers came calling and the students became overnight sensations; a symbol of Barack Obama's message. Their story spread like wildfire. Oprah sent them $365 as a Christmas present. Then just last week, a message from the Obama campaign.

CLARK: We're going to the inauguration.

LEMON: Their hard work had paid off.


LEMON: Look at you. Look at you. You guys made your teacher cry. Hey, look. They've come a long way to realize a dream, and it started with, just with a song. The amazing journey of the students of Atlanta's Ron Clark Academy. They are here.

And they are ready to sing.



RON CLARK, FOUNDER, RON CLARK ACADEMY: We've gotten so many calls to perform this song that we've even got some very special calls. And next week, we're going to the inauguration.


LEMON: Ron Clark telling his kids that they were going to Washington to sing at Barack Obama's inauguration. Look. Every time he sees that he goes, "Oh, God, Don, Why did you do that?"

I spent the day with them on Thursday as they were getting ready for the ultimate field trip. Take a look at this, our time on Thursday.


CLARK: Your bow tie? All right. Let's do that.

This is even beyond my dreams. For my students to be going to the inauguration, to be going to all of the balls and to be singing and performing, just that they have such a light about them. Such an excitement about politics and history and what's going on now. It's great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's amazing. This is fantastic. I never imagined that we'd be going to the inauguration. It's hard for me to get some sleep because I'm thinking, hopefully, really hopefully, we'll meet Barack Obama.

LEMON: What does it personally mean to you to have the honor of going to the inauguration for this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the -- a big opportunity. And this is, like -- this is my first time actually getting to do something this exciting. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama has done so many things that I am so proud of, and he has like broken down doors for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, we have our first African-American president, and you -- kind like you want to go back in time and relive it over and over again.

CLARK: They didn't care if I said we have to walk to the inauguration. When you start walking they'd say, "let's get it, Mr. Clark." These kids are so excited to fly to Raleigh, drive six hours, bus, train. Whatever, they don't care because they're going and they are going to be there.

LEMON: You look good. You like it? What do you think? You can't stop smiling, can you? What do you think?

He's checking himself out. Good, good.


LEMON: It's an incredible weekend for Ron Clark and his students and they are right here, as promised, to tell us all about it. So listen. The last time I saw you guys Thursday, right, you were getting ready in your tuxedos. Where are the tuxedos?

CLARK: At the hotel.

LEMON: You are afraid to talk now?

No, sir. Yes, sir. Are you guys cold?


LEMON: They are so polite. I just did that so you could hear that.

So it's been incredible. Since I saw you guys on Thursday you got on a plane on Friday. You flew into Virginia, right?

CLARK: Yes, we flew into Raleigh, North Carolina.

LEMON: North Carolina. Got on what? Vans?

CLARK: About five minivans because we didn't find out we were coming until late. We had to call Delta; they're the biggest supporter of our school. And they were able to fly us to Raleigh. Then we got five minivans. We drove from there to Washington, D.C.

Now we're here. We're pumped up. We're excited.

LEMON: Are you guys excited?

STUDENTS: Yes, sir.

LEMON: Oh, man. Yes, sir. You aren't tired at all?

STUDENTS: No, sir.

LEMON: Has anybody been on an airplane before?

STUDENTS: Yes, sir.

LEMON: Yes, you had. So you are in Washington, D.C. You have been doing a number of performances. What performances have they done?

CLARK: They have been singing all over the city. It's been incredible. This morning we actually performed at a gala for Georgia. We got to represent hometown Atlanta and Georgia this morning. Tomorrow we're forming at the Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon. Then tomorrow night, we're performing at the ICCF foundation gala. And that's co-hosted by George Bush and Bill Clinton.

And then Tuesday night, we're performing at the African International Friends gala with Patti LaBelle. It's going to be so cool.

LEMON: Wow. I heard you guys. I got a call saying, "Oh my gosh, these kids did such a great job at the Georgia event. They really turned it out." I asked people around -- did you get a standing ovation in some places at all?

CLARK: Yes, we got a -- when they said kids from the Ron Clark Academy they already gave us a standing ovation. And then the kids came in and -- some of the students had tears in their eyes; they even the song because it means so much to them. This whole experience, it touches these kids so much. It was just beautiful.

LEMON: Hey, Ron. Let's listen a little bit. Let's let our viewers listen. Do we have that? Let's play it.

You guys are getting down. Listen. The people in the audience -- the people who are standing out here want to hear you guys perform. They are like, let's hear it. They are going to do it in just a little bit.

But I want to go around. I don't have a microphone. Willie, how do you feel?


LEMON: Come closer to me. Come closer and talk to me. Say again.

WILLIE: I feel great. I feel energetic. Being in Washington, D.C., it's such a once in a lifetime thing. And getting to meet -- and getting to be where Barack Obama is and him becoming the first African-American president is just something that has been in many people's dreams but now that's finally coming true. It's great.

LEMON: Really? You are excited, aren't you?

WILLIE: Yes, sir. LEMON: How do you feel? You are on TV. The world is watching you. You nervous?

WILLIE: You know, it's just that you don't get nervous because when you go out there and you see all these people, it just gives you that adrenaline to keep on going and to just give it all your best.

LEMON: Yes. Do you guys agree?

STUDENTS: Yes, sir.

LEMON: Yes, sir. You don't have to say yes, sir. Do you guys agree?


LEMON: How has it been for you? Tell me your name again. I know I spoke to you on Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Aliya Kolfer (ph).

LEMON: Aliya Kolfer. How has it been?

ALIYA KOLFER (ph), RON CLARK ACADEMY SINGER: I am very excited to be on this trip and I never thought that I would ever go to school where all these amazing things could happen. And I never thought I would be right here Washington, D.C., performing and doing the "Dear Obama" song. I'm very excited.

LEMON: You are. We're very excited as well. Hang on.

More when we come back. I think they're going to perform. You're going to see them. Thanks, guys.


LEMON: We're back here live on the mall. Let me scoot down here so you can see me with the kids. Back here live on the mall with the kids from Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta and they are going to perform as promised. I'm going to step out of the way.

RON CLARK STUDENTS: This is a letter to Barack Obama. It's our way of saying thank you.

Thank you for showing me that no doors are closed.

I have the power to control my own future.

Thank you for showing me that I can stand tall and be proud of who I am.

You have given us strength, courage and hope.

And for that, we all say thank you.

Dear Obama hear us sing. We're ready for the change that you will bring. Going to shine a light for the world to see. To spread peace, hope and democracy.

The time is now bring our troops home. Iraq can stand strong on their own.

And fight for health care for the young so that coverage is available to everyone.

And it's time to find ways to fuel our needs so we don't have to (INAUDIBLE) in Middle East.

We've got to stand up strong for the middle class. And regulate (INAUDIBLE).

Got away with no oversight doing things that were not right giving loans to bad advice (unintelligible).

The change we need should begin today. And Barack, we stand behind you as you lead the way.

Dear Obama bop, bop, bop, Dear Obama, bop, bop, bop, you've broken down walls, you've broken down doors.

Obama we all agree that yes, we can.

Dear Obama we must unite and put together members of the left and right. The terror threat bringing fear, we hope our words you will do hear.


Give us the opportunity the world see us with adoring eyes and our popularity will rise. Please pay off all our debt to China. And strengthen our forces against Al Qaeda.

You have the power to change education giving our public schools some dedication raising up teacher pay (unintelligible).

Dear Obama bop, bop, bop. Dear Obama bop, bop, bop. Obama you've broken down doors, broken down doors, no limits anymore. Obama, Obama. We all agree that yes, we can.

Today is a new day where we can all see a new hope for our country. We know along your journey, people said mean things to you and about you but you never gave up. And that gives us the strength to never give up. You are more than a president. You are a role model, a father figure and a man we can all look up to. And for that we all say thank you.

Dear Obama bop, bop, bop. Dear Obama bop, bop, bop. Dear Obama bop, bop, bop. You've broken down doors, you've broken down doors, no limits anymore. Obama, Obama we all agree that yes, we can.

Sincerely, every child, every family, everyone. Barack Obama, we thank you.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh. All right. I am in tears. You guys are amazing.

Ron Clark, come back in here. People are out here saying, "God bless you all."

CLARK: Yes, God bless these kids. They wrote this song. It took them ten tries. But the tenth one is beautiful because they feel in their hearts. These kids have learned all about world affairs, world politics. They deserve to be here and I couldn't be more proud of them.

LEMON: Come on, guys. Get in there. It's all about these guys. I'm going to step out of the way.

You know what? I don't know where we're going so I'm going to send it to break. But before I do, thank you so much for coming on CNN and thank you for what you guys are doing.

Amazing. We're back with our live coverage on the mall here in Washington. Thank you guys. Thank you. Hope you enjoyed that.


LEMON: Less than two days before Barack Obama becomes the nation's 44th president, it's been a day of both solemn remembrance and celebration. This morning the president and vice president-elect honored America's war dead. Barack Obama and Joe Biden traveled across the Potomac to Arlington National Cemetery where they placed a wreath at the tomb of the unknown.

And this afternoon here on the Mall, the focus was on the future. The Obamas and the Bidens attend the concert featuring everyone from Beyonce to U2 to Bruce Springsteen and the president-elect stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and talked about the common hopes shared by all Americans. As the inauguration progresses, we've been talking to people, a lot of the people who will be talking to Barack Obama. The people who make up his inner circle. Last hour we talked with Illinois state senate president Emil Jones.

Well, this hour we'll let you hear from Valerie Jarrett who will be a White House senior adviser. She was a co-chair of the Obama transition team and she has known both Barack and Michelle Obama for many, many years.


LEMON: People say that about you two that you can communicate. I've read that about you. I've never witnessed it, but people say you can look at each other and communicate. You don't need to talk and that almost since the very beginning, it's like when you met you can almost kind of read each other's minds. Is that true, Valerie?

VALERIE JARRETT, OBAMA TRANSITION CO-CHAIR: I think we have a pretty good sense of each other, how we think, what our priorities are, what our values are. We have a very similar sense of humor. So, yes, I think we read each other very well.

LEMON: Yes. What is that like? Do you know what's good for him, what's bad for him? What he shouldn't do? What he should do?

JARRETT: I know what I think. I'm not going to say we always agree, but I understand what motivates him. I know what his values are. I know how he was raised. I have a very good sense of the kind of core decency and empathy he has for mankind and the direction he wants to take our country. And he hasn't changed over the last 17 years that I've known him. He's always had the same commitment to focus first on people and what we can do to improve their lives.

And when you stay kind of singularly focused on that, it makes it a lot easier to make important decisions. Over the course of his career, the decisions, obviously have become more and more important and the challenges, but the opportunities also that we face right now are enormous. And I'm just so proud of him. And he's so ready for this.


LEMON: Valerie Jarrett will be the senior White House adviser. Our Dana Bash is standing by in front, the west front of the U.S. Capitol building. And that's where Barack Obama will be sworn in as the nation's 44th president come Tuesday. Dana, tell us what you know. What we should expect on Tuesday.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we should show our viewers what this scene looks like. In fact, you know, normally, this is the way I come in to work. I cover Congress and this is -- these are the steps I usually come in to get into the U.S. Capitol.

But nobody has been able to do that since mid-September. Mid- September. Before the election, in fact, that is how long it has taken for the construction of this inaugural setup to take place. So that's sort of an interesting tidbit. Now, what you see here, you actually see a group there of -- it looks like some tourists at the spot where Barack Obama will actually be administered the oath of office.

He is going to be given that, administered the oath by the chief justice of the United States. John Roberts. And he's going to be the second person to take the oath. The first will actually be Joe Biden. And he will be administered that oath by the Justice John Paul Stevens. And this is going to be done, don, to -- down to the second. I mean you should see this list that we are getting in terms of when Barack Obama and others come out here.

Who is going to speak? When are they going to speak? When we're going to hear music from Aretha Franklin, from the United States marine corps band. When are we going to hear a 21-gun salute and Barack Obama is going there for the first time as president hear "Hail to the Chief."

All of that is going to take place really within the span of about an hour. And you know, the key is for then President Obama to take that oath at high noon. And that is actually something that is now a part of the constitution. It's the 20th Amendment to the Constitution that says that the president of the United States takes that oath at noon on January 20th. And that is what we're going to see on Tuesday.

You know, another interesting thing I think we should show our viewers is the kind of view that Barack Obama and everybody else, all the dignitaries, the Supreme Court, senators, other members of Congress are going to be seeing. And that is of the Mall. Obviously, it's dark now. But I think we have a camera that can show you, and they are all going to be able to see straight down to -- past the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.

And obviously, you can see there the White House as well. So it is certainly quite a sight that Barack Obama and everybody here are going to be able to see. They are actually not going to be able to see the White House. This is the shot that you should be looking at, down the National Mall. It's about two miles long. You are in the thick of it there, Don.

You are in the middle of where all the masses are going to be. So he's going to be able to get that view of the sea of people we expect to be here on his inauguration day, Don.

LEMON: Yes, it must be amazing. Can you imagine becoming the president and looking out and seeing that and saying you know what? I am in charge of this, at least for the next four years. And Dana, you are right about -- it's scripted, every second.

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: I don't know how you guys are going to keep up with all of the guidance that you are getting. Even the folks who are involved in it, keep up with it. Dana Bash, we appreciate it.

BASH: Thank you.

LEMON: All right. Thank you.

Hey, listen. We want you to be a part of the conversation tonight. We've been hearing from our viewers. People who are here on the mall watching. So make sure you join us. Logon to Twitter, to Facebook, to, MySpace. Make sure you'll tell us what you're thinking. And we'll get some of your responses on the air and we'll try to get some of it on. By the way, I have so many Facebook friends, I can't take anymore.

I got to start a new page. You know, we're going to talk about the buzz on the air waves. The radio buzz. We'll take a look at what America is talking about with our two biggest talkers.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can use the inauguration as something substantial. What he's going to do different on day one from the office. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I think I've heard pretty much all of it by now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message which I don't think is going to come is how he's going to cut spending, cut taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to hear some specifics about how he plans do different on day one from the office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I think I've heard pretty much all of it by now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message which I don't think is going to come is how he's going to cut spending, cut taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to hear some specifics about what he plans to do in Iraq in terms of withdrawal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to hear a call for national sacrifice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hysteria about how difficult everything is going to be --

LEMON: Talking already. You're talking already.

You know no matter where you fall in the political spectrum, everyone is talking about this inauguration, especially on the radio. Chris Plante, Warren Ballentine. They're hosts of their own radio shows. Both have stopped by to tell us what their listeners are going to be talking about. And these people are screaming out to you saying, hey, Chris. Hey, Warren. You know these guys?


LEMON: You call into their shows?


LEMON: That's the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't nobody know me.

LEMON: Please. They don't know you, Warren. You are so thin now. I didn't even recognize you. Are you OK? Are conservatives all right? Are you going to be fine?

CHRIS PLANTE, HOST, WMAL-630AM'S "THE CHRIS PLANTE SHOW": Everything will be all right. Every now and then the pendulum swings and we'll cope with it. Four years and, you know, then out. It's OK.

LEMON: Are you OK with it, though? We were talking about it. You said something about John McCain. PLANTE: Well, from where I sit you know, honestly, John McCain was not my first pick. He was not my second pick. He was not my third pick. And spending the next four years defending John McCain who was very often wishy washy and -- it, for me, it's going to be a lot easier going forward under these circumstances than it would have been had the election come out the other way.

LEMON: I think Warren probably feels the other way. You say it would have been better if McCain was --


LEMON: I know.

BALLENTINE: I said this 23 months ago on "Lou Dobbs Show," right here. I said that Barack Obama would be president of the United states.

LEMON: What did they say to you?

BALLENTINE: They said I was young and naive. They laughed at me. But you know history has been written. Barack is the president. And honestly, I think -

LEMON: Not yet. Another day.

BALLENTINE: A couple of days he'll be the president.

LEMON: Chris is like don't jump the gun yet.

PLANTE:: One president at a time, remember.

BALLENTINE: I honestly believe this. I think that not only are democrats excited. I think conservatives -- I think republicans are excited.

LEMON: I've heard that.

BALLENTINE: Because they see this man is so inclusive with everybody that he is really -- he's doing something that hasn't happened since Mandela. He has the world excited about a president.

LEMON: Chris?

BALLENTINE: I mean this is something that we need to be talking about.

PLANTE: All of this is true. But the reality is that in a matter of days we're going to get down to the business of governing. And Nancy Pelosi is already firing shots across the bow and Harry Reid is already firing shots across the bow. The two leading democrats on Capitol Hill just behind us here. He's going to have to deal with a lot of very serious issues. But let's let the celebration take place and then we'll get down to business.

BALLENTINE: let me have one thing in here.

LEMON: Do we have a security guard here?

BALLENTINE: A lot of the conservatives want to talk about Harry Reid. All right. But let's say this. Bush wanted to privatize Social Security. Imagine if he would have done that in this market? Imagine what would have happened if Harry Reid had not stood up and said that this was a horrific idea.

PLANTE: Privatizing Social Security is liberal speak for what the president wanted to do and it's not that what he wanted to do at all. As everyone who reads the papers knows. But it was an option. Imagine -- and there is still -- I mean -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to tell you -

BALLENTINE: I'd like to tell you this, Chris. We gave you eight years. And in those eight years you gave us torture. Now it's time for euphoria. It's time for euphoria now. It's time for change. It's time for change.

PLANTE: Barack Obama has said he's going to go ahead with the enhanced interrogation techniques as well. And this is something that slipped through the torpedo nets a couple of days ago when Barack Obama went to "The Washington Post" for their editorial board meeting where he was cheered by the staff of the objective "Washington Post." They didn't report on it much, but it turns out that Barack Obama is now saying he'll be disappointed if at the end of his first term Guantanamo Bay is still open. That's four years if I'm not mistaken.

BALLENTINE: Conservatives are trying to pick things out of the air to be -- you --


PLANTE: We like to call them facts. We like to call them facts.

BALLENTIINE: When Clinton first got into office you first announced, this is the first day of being locked up by President Clinton. Now I'm going to tell you something. What's going to happen in four years is this. In four years, this economy is going to be booming. Jobs are going to be at a surplus. Education is going to be better. And this country -- and this country is going to be united. And I want you to eat your words?

PLANTE: Whether you want it or not -


LEMON: I didn't have to jump in because you were talking to each other. I know, we can't let you defend yourself now because we don't have time. I'm sorry.

PLANTE: Oh, really? There's plenty of time to deal with all of this. The confirmation hearings are coming up. A lot of problems with the Treasury secretary. Hillary Clinton and her husband's dealings.

BALLENTINE: Chris, I like you but sometimes you need to put some glasses on.

LEMON: Thank you, guys. Really. Thank you. We've got to run. But I let you guys talk.

PLANTE: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: It's good to have you together and hashing it out.

BALLENTINE: Thank you, everybody!

LEMON: Chris Plante and Warren Ballentine. It is cold out here. If only the inauguration was held in springtime we would not be wearing these jackets. We'll see what's ahead for Tuesday from our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. Always good to see you guys.

PLANTE: We'll see you, Don.



BONO, BANDLEADER, U2: On this spot where we're standing, 43 years -- 46 years ago, Dr. King had a dream. On Tuesday, that dream comes to pass. One man come in the name -


LEMON: That was earlier tonight at the Lincoln Memorial. A star-studded spectacular concert. Man, a ton of people showing up here in Washington. Lots of people here on the Mall. We want to check in with Tom Foreman in New York. And Tom, you've got some 3-D -- and I guess, I'm not even going to try that word. Photosynth.


LEMON: Well you know, I've got people singing behind me, so I can barely hear you.

FOREMAN: Well they like it. That's the thing. Let me tell you. Just like Bono today, it was a moment that people were excited about. We are very excited here about this new technology that we're using throughout this inauguration to capture the moment as it appears.

Look on the wall here. Look what you are looking at. This is a 3-D environment created out of many photographs. It's called Photosynth. We're using it for the first time for this gigantic project of ours. These are all individual photographs. Just like you might take when you're on vacation somewhere. What Photosynth does is it looks at all of these pictures and finds similar things, whether it's the flag there or the columns or part of a statue or part of the dome. Then it combines them all.

It stitches them all together to create this 3-D environment where you can move among it and explore everything about it. Now, I want you to look at some of them that was just taken this afternoon by my producer, Kati Rausch. She was down there on the mall and she took pictures of people gathered to watch Obama's speech, and look at how you can navigate through this environment, see the speech. There's the Lincoln Memorial, the capitol on the other side over here.

All taken in just a matter of moments, fed into Photosynth and put together to create this utterly unique environment. And we want you to be part of it, just like this young woman I took a picture of the other day in front of the capitol. If you widen out here, you can see what happens when it all goes together.

On inauguration, if you have any view of the moment when Barack Obama raises his hand, take a picture, cell phone, digital phone, any phone. Send it to We will synth it all together and then you will be able to see it both online and on the air within an hour or two. It's going to be a very exciting moment, and we will record it in a way that it's never been recorded before and put it right on the air for you.

Tom, always very interesting. Hey, guess what? You have some fans here. They're sad you couldn't be here and they want to say something to you. Everybody?


LEMON: They're saying hi, Tom.

FOREMAN: Tell them I wish I could be there with them, but I was condemned to be in the warm studio.

LEMON: Oh, yes. He says he wishes he could be here, but he's condemned to a warm studio. Thank you, Tom. We appreciate it.

Now, we're going to say hello to Jacqui Jeras. She's at the warm studio at the CNN severe weather center. Tell us about the forecast here in D.C.. Everybody say hi, Jacqui.


JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Oh, my gosh. Look at all of you appropriately dressed people. I love that. Don, you're like a rock star out there. I can't believe all the people that have come out to watch the show and see you tonight. The weather has been pretty comfortable for it throughout much of the day today. And that is going to continue through the evening hours, but for the most part we're going to be going downhill the next couple of days.

So you really need to bundle up tomorrow and Tuesday in particular. We do have a weather system moving through much of the northeastern corridor. The worst of the weather has been in New England where six to 14 inches of snow has been coming down, but we've been looking at mostly cloudy conditions in D.C., a few snow flurries are possible tonight, but nothing to accumulate.

The temperature and the wind chill the same, meaning the winds are calm right now. So it feels like 35 degrees and that's what it says on the thermometer, but we will watch temperatures drop overnight tonight to about 20, maybe 21 degrees, and check out Monday. Snow back in the forecast. So likely be in the afternoon hours. Very little accumulation, maybe an inch or so. We'll be clearing out for Tuesday, but it will be cold. 31 degrees is what we're expecting for your high on Tuesday, and that's below average. We should be seeing temperatures well into the 40s for this time of the year, but it will by no means be the coldest inauguration for the month of January.

Ronald Reagan takes the cake on that one when it was seven degrees at noontime and wind chills in the negative 10 to negative 20 degree-range. Mighty chilly back there in 1985. Don.

LEMON: All right. Jacqui, they approved your forecast here, and guess what? Bye, Jacqui.


JERAS: Bye, guys.

LEMON: She says bye. All right. You guys ready for the encore? More from Atlanta's Ron Clark Academy, the students, coming up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all say thank you. Hear Obama --


LEMON: All right. You know what? These people have been sharing their opinions, and we want to get your opinions as well. As we look at that beautiful picture of the capitol. Check out what you have been sending in. Here is what Thechickonthelo says. "OMG. They did such a wonderful job. That indeed brought tears to my eyes. Dear Obama."

And then JesusPalma says, "This is a start of a new age for America, and I wish I could be out there in the freezing cold to witness its birth." Alnandr says, "For such an important and historic event in history, I can't thank life enough for being part of it to tell my children." And Campbell 444 says, "I'm glued to CNN. I can't stop watching this historical moment in history. It's great. I can barely sleep. Let it be Tuesday!"

All right. Well, we'll keep your comments coming. We'd love to get it here on CNN, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or You, too, can be a part of history. CNN is teaming up with Facebook to bring you complete coverage of the inauguration online. You can connect with and engage with other users while watching live inaugural events on And on Tuesday make sure you watch a historic swearing in of Barack Obama right here on CNN.

Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper will lead our coverage as well as the best political team on television beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern. Our coverage is actually beginning now, but that special part of it is at 10 a.m. Eastern. And on Monday, CNN's Soledad O'Brien takes us on a special journey from MLK to today, including a rare rebroadcast of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s entire "I have a dream" speech. That is at noon Eastern. "MLK to today" begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Monday only here on CNN. Did you guys have a good time tonight?


LEMON: We thank these guys so much. We love you. We love you. Thank you for watching. I'm Don Lemon, everyone. CNN's special inaugural coverage will continue. "State of the Union" with John King is coming up at the top of the hour. But you know what I want to leave you with this. It was such an amazing moment. More from the kids from the Ron Clark Academy. Good night everybody. See you at 10.