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Obama's Presidential Honeymoon; First Couple at the Inaugural Balls

Aired January 20, 2009 - 23:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's take this map and crumple it up and get rid of it. And start over here in Indonesia. Look at this woman. Big sign Obama right on her head up there in paint, celebrating.
And here is in Japan. And the town called Obama, Japan where people were celebrating and very happy about everything.

Here is in Guantanamo, Cuba, American servicemen looking at the thing that might -- the moment in American history that might change their future. He's talked about closing some of the operations down in Gitmo.

Down here in Peru, there's a man walking by with candles blessing a photograph of Obama.

We move across the ocean over here. This is in Bosnia, in Sarajevo, people gathered around TV watching CNN, seeing the returns there.

Down here -- look at this amazing picture from Nairobi, Kenya. Look at the celebration in that crowd. Unbelievable.

And then, further on up here we have Poland, Warsaw, people gathered around watching.

People gathered over here in Baghdad.

Over here in Pakistan; an important place that Barack Obama has put a lot of emphasis on.

And lastly, one more here. Look at the crowd in India. I don't know what was going on there, but clearly another sign that billions of people around the world are paying attention.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And Barack Obama directly addressed, Tom, as you know, the Muslim world, though we'll talk about that in the hour ahead.

We're at the top of the hour now. About 11 hours after becoming President, Barack Obama right now is savoring the short honeymoon and making the stops that many inaugural balls tonight in Washington.

He's got to be exhausted. But you wouldn't know that by watching him dance. Especially at the Youth Ball just a few moments ago. You're watching the special inaugural edition of "AC360." I'm joined along with Campbell Brown tonight. We're following the very latest in this extraordinary moment in our nation's history.

Shortly, after noon Mr. Obama was sworn in as the 44th of the United States. At noon he officially became President even though the swearing in was a few minutes after that. He is, of course, the first African-American commander-in-chief.

To witness the events, well as we've been talking about billions around the world and hundreds of thousands on the National Mall. It was a day, a sea of faces. As we speak, President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama are stopping at the inaugural celebrations. There are at least ten official balls across D.C.

We have live reports from some of the biggest parties. That is a color of the guard at the Biden Home State Ball. You never know who's going to show up at these things.

As we said, Barack Obama is on his Presidential honeymoon. The work, however, is already under way. Their meetings with economic advisers planned and his military council tomorrow will be his first full day in office.

But again, that is tomorrows; a few hours from now.

Here's what happened today. Candy Crowley on the "360 Transition."


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The majesty of democracy and the making of history.


CROWLEY: It was a moment in time 200 years in the making. A million and a half people surrounding iconic reminders of American history as Barack Obama became the first black man to be President of the United States.

No need for adjectives or explanation.

OBAMA: So help me God.


CROWLEY: Tomorrow, history is history. Presidents are about what's next.

OBAMA: Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interest and putting off unpleasant decisions, that time has surely passed --

CROWLEY: It was an artful speech of balance, befitting a man with big dreams and caution.

OBAMA: Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America. They will be met.

CROWLEY: Barack Obama thanked George Bush for his service, and then signaled his intentions to undo much of what has been done. It went unspoken that that includes the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison.

OBAMA: We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

CROWLEY: And to the world that watched from North Korea to the Middle East, Obama offered an opening.

OBAMA: We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

CROWLEY: But warned of a nation willing to act.

OBAMA: For those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us and we will defeat you.

CROWLEY: So on this day he wrote history, tomorrow he goes to work. The Obama era begins.


COOPER: And it is already begun. And we're watching it right now. Let's listen in at the Biden Home State Ball.

OBAMA: We are responsible to you. We are accountable to you. We are grateful to you. Not only for the trust you've bestowed, but also for a guy named Joe Biden.

As I said earlier today, we face some daunting challenges. It will not be easy, and it will not be quick for us to solve these issues. But looking out over the almost two million people who were there today, I am reminded of the power and the force of this country when people are united.

That's what this campaign's been about. That's what this administration's been about. And that's why I'm confident that our better days are ahead of us.

So with that, you'll please excuse me if I dance with my wife.


COOPER: And there, a sight we are now getting used to, watching several times tonight now. Let's listen in to them.

OBAMA: Let's go change America. COOPER: I want to bring in CNN's Candy Crowley who is also standing by. Candy, you've been following the Obamas for an awfully long time. Maybe you've seen them dance an awful lot, though a lot of America probably hasn't.

As you seen Barack Obama, as you seen the President tonight and you see Michelle Obama, the First Lady, tonight, what goes through your mind? How do they seem to you? You've followed them through thick and thin over the years.

CROWLEY: They have always seemed enormously comfortable with each other. I think this is a delightful family, if you'll allow me that. I mean, the kids are darling. They're really well behaved.

And they just always seemed to have such a great relationship. He says all the time in his speeches and in private that she's the boss. She's the one that says, hey, you're not so great as you think you are.

But they obviously look like they're having fun, although I'm thinking ten inaugural balls where you have to dance and speak ought to be put on that list of torture. Because this must be -- after the day they've put in -- this is pretty amazing. But I'm sure it's an adrenaline high.

But I think the relation between them is pretty much what you've seen and not unlike the Bushes who it was very obvious they had genuine affection for each other and enjoyed each other's company.

COOPER: All right, Candy Crowley. I appreciate that. Let's go to Randi Kaye now who was at the Commander-in-Chief's ball. She's with two members of the military who had the honor of dancing with the new Commander-in-chief and the First Lady tonight -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Anderson, yes. These two military members had a very special dance tonight. I'm here with Sergeant Margaret Herrera and Sergeant Elidio Guillen. Both of you had a chance to dance with the First Couple tonight.

First tell me, how were you chosen?

SERGEANT MARGARET H. HERRERA, U.S. ARMY: I was nominated by my commander, ma'am.

KAYE: And you as well?


KAYE: And then from what I understand then it's the inaugural committee that will then vote on all of those who are nominated and the two of you got picked.

Tell me what it was like to dance with the President of the United States? As we probably take a look at some video of you dancing.

HERRERA: It was an amazing experience and I'm very proud to represent the females of the Armed Forces.

KAYE: What did he say to you?

HERRERA: He asked me where I was from. And then we tried to get the dance steps together. And before I knew it, the dance was over.

KAYE: So you didn't step on his toes, did you?

HERRERA: No, ma'am. No, ma'am.

KAYE: And what was it like for you to dance with the First Lady?

GUILLEN: An amazing experience as well, ma'am. This has been an honor to have the privilege to dance with the First Lady.

KAYE: What did you say to her?

GUILLEN: She just asked me where I was from and I wished her a belated happy birthday. And before we knew it the song was over. We thanked each other and went on our way.

KAYE: And when you found out, I guess you found out just a few days ago that the two of you were going to have this dance tonight. What did you think when you found that out?

GUILLEN: I just went ecstatic, told my wife and she went ecstatic. So something we'll treasure and we can show our family and our kids that their dad danced with the First Lady.

KAYE: Were you nervous about dancing with the President.

HERRERA: No, no, ma'am. I'm a soldier. We handle pressure.

KAYE: All right. What do you think about your new Commander-in- Chief?

GUILLEN: He's a great gentleman and a First Lady as well. So we'll follow his orders to the state (ph) and we'll go from there.

KAYE: Any dancing tips for either one of them.

HERRERA: No, ma'am.

GUILLEN: Not at all, ma'am.

KAYE: Good enough for you, huh? All right. I'm sure you'll both remember this night for a long, long time.

HERRERA: Yes, ma'am.

KAYE: All right Anderson, there you have it. Two very happy dancers here at the Commander-In-Chief's Ball.

COOPER: Randi, our soldiers and marines are incredibly well trained. Did they actually practice dancing? That was my only question. KAYE: Did they actually what?

COOPER: Did they practice dancing to prepare for this?

KAYE: That's a good question. Did you practice? Anderson Cooper wants to know, did either one of you practice in the days since you found out that you were going to dance with the First Couple.

HERRERA: I must admit, ma'am, yes, we did a little box step in the office. But I didn't want to go out there cold turkey, so I did practice.

KAYE: And what about you?

GUILLEN: I practiced with my wife a little bit. Again, we did the box step. Just try to get warmed up and make sure I didn't step on her toes.

KAYE: I'm glad you did. From down here where we were, Anderson, they looked pretty good up there. So I guess the practice helped.

COOPER: They did a great job. I could not have done what they did. It was a lot of pressure and they certainly performed very well under pressure as they do all the time.

KAYE: I agree.

COOPER: Great talking to them. Randi, thanks so much.

It is late, or depending I guess on your view, early. Either way the parties are in full swing. Our coverage continues all the way through I think until 3:00 a.m. We are on until midnight.

Larry King then starts the special edition of "Larry King Live" until 1:00 a.m. and then we'll continue on to about 3:00 a.m. A lot of balls to come; the Obamas are going to be up late, so we figure why won't we?

Also take a look at some of the many parties. I think that's the Youth Ball right there. It is still hopping. Gary Tuchman has disappeared. He's off in the crowd trying to find out where the after party is, I think.

But we'll have our coverage continue from Washington. We'll be right back.



OBAMA: Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America. They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama, part of his inaugural speech. It lasted about 20 minutes. Also on the platform, a familiar couple, Senator Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton there.

Senator Clinton was Mr. Obama's Democratic challenger, obviously, during the campaign. Now she will be serving as his Secretary of State once that confirmation hearing wraps up.

Back to President Obama. Today he signaled a new era for the nation and with it new challenges to overcome. A very tall order. You just heard in his remarks.

We want to bring our panel in for some discussion. Now, joining me: senior CNN political analyst Gloria Borger; former spokesman for Mitt Romney, Kevin Madden; CNN senior political analyst, Jeffrey Toobin and NPR commentator John Ridley all joining me now. Welcome everybody.

Let's talk about something that happened during the actual swearing in as Obama was taking the oath. I know you have some strong opinions about this, Jeff Toobin.

But let's just say that Chief Justice Roberts may have fumbled the ball a bit. Let's play it for people and then we'll talk about it.


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE: I, Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear.

OBAMA: I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear.

ROBERTS: That I will execute the Office of President to the United States faithfully.

OBAMA: That I will execute --

ROBERTS: The office -- faithfully -- the Office of President of the United States faithfully.

OBAMA: The Office of President of the United States faithfully.

ROBERTS: And will to the best of my ability.

OBAMA: And will to the best of my ability.

ROBERTS: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

OBAMA: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

ROBERTS: So help you God?

OBAMA: So help me God.

ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.


BROWN: OK. So, Jeff, you -- you had some pretty harsh words for him. First, explain what happened.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Ok, this is why I love the news business. Because you never know what's going to happen. Here you have the perpetual A student, John Roberts. The guy has never made a mistake in public before and he thought he could administer the oath by memory because it's only 35 words.

BROWN: Right, laid out in the Constitution.

TOOBIN: But twice he got the words wrong. First he put faithfully after execute the --

BROWN: Right.

TOOBIN: -- office of President of the United States. Then he left out the word execute the second time he did it. And you could see Obama --

BROWN: Knew the words and paused.

TOOBIN: Right.

BROWN: Letting him correct himself.

TOOBIN: Started to chuckle a bit because he knew that Roberts had made a mistake.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: So what do you think he's going to do, what do you think is going through Obama's mind? Am I going to correct the Chief Justice of the United States? I think I know this oath. But maybe he knows it better than I do. So Obama kind of balked a little bit.

KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR MITT ROMNEY: He rolled with it, he actually kind of rolled with as kind of an ad lib.

BORGER: He did, totally.

MADDEN: You TV guys and your impossibly perfect standards. He made a mistake. He got caught up in the moment.


JOHN RIDLEY, NPR COMMENTATOR: And your job is to come in, deliver your one line and get off the stage and that's it. But this guy, I mean, everybody has been preparing for this. It's not like he didn't know it was coming. To not get it right --

MADDEN: Not to hammer him too hard; though unexcusable on this day.

BROWN: But the Constitution actually is pretty precise about this, isn't it?


BROWN: Because the bottom line here is that none of this has any bearing on whether he was actually going to become President or not. At noon he officially becomes President whether he's taken the oath or not.

TOOBIN: The 20th amendment to the constitution which is the one in 1933 that moved the inauguration day from March to January sets that time at noon. In fact, that oath was administered at about 12:03. Obama was, in fact, already President. So the oath is just a formality.

BROWN: Ok, guys, we want to peek in now.

We're going to watch pictures of it -- we don't have audio just yet. But this is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ball. Which -- are we at number five? I've lost track. Five more to go?

TOOBIN: I think it's going to be "Our Love is Here to Stay". It's the song. I think he pretty much committed to it.

BROWN: Right.

BORGER: They're getting a little more comfortable with the dancing and the twirl.

BROWN: Well, you would hope so after five of the exact same song. Let's see if we can get any audio here. He's about to make his remarks. Well, he should be shortly.

I can tell you that the "Grateful Dead" minus Jerry Garcia, obviously, is playing at this ball.

No audio.

TOOBIN: This is such a big deal that maybe they will actually get Jerry Garcia.

BROWN: We'll see about that. This is -- as we said, this, I believe, is number five. They have five more to go.

And if you look at the schedule, they plan to be out on the town until around 3:00, 3:30, although I think they're running a little behind so it may be later than that.

Anderson Cooper is planning to stay up with the Obamas, I'm not.

BORGER: I don't think the young girls are going to be waiting for their parents to come home tonight.


BORGER: I think they'd probably like to try.

BROWN: No. I don't think so either.

Anyway, let's just go back briefly to his speech from a moment ago while we work on trying to get the audio here and a little bit more of the event today.

Just -- because we haven't talked about it in a while and I haven't gotten your views on this, John Ridley. You just joined us for the first time this evening. Thank you for being one of the late arrivals.

Give us your sense -- I've asked everyone this, what their sort of one moment was. For a lot of people it was the swearing in, you saw the crowds go crazy at that moment.


BROWN: But for you what was it?

RIDLEY: Well, you know, I had a really wonderful morning. I was with the Tuskegee Airmen; I've just spent the night with some of the guys. And coming over this morning with these guys, you know the question is for a lot of older African-Americans and black Americans --

TOOBIN: Actually John, you should say who the Tuskegee Airmen are.

RIDLEY: Well a lot of people don't know and surprisingly a lot of people don't know. But the Tuskegee Airmen back when the Armed Forces were still segregated, these were the black flyers, the mechanics, the staff officers who are with the first flyers.

And Barack Obama said that I rode in on the shoulders of these gentlemen. That they really fought for the right to fight and die for the country that a lot of black Americans did not have.

They did serve obviously in the Civil War and things like that. But they were not allowed to serve.

So I was with them last night. I was with them in the morning. And the question again for a lot of black Americans, did you ever think that this day would ever come.

And they said to me it was not a matter of thinking. This was not even on our calendar. We could not imagine that this day would come. And the fact that they are in their 80s but lived to see this day really is a testament to the genuine qualities of this country --

BROWN: Right. RIDLEY: And the fact that we could achieve this. And that it happened and when it happened, it happened very quickly. Took a long time, but when it happened, happened very quickly.

BROWN: Very, very powerful John Ridley and the panel. And it looks like -- we got the audio. Let's take a moment and watch them dance for the fifth time to the same song.

BORGER: That twirl.

BROWN: The twirl is getting better, isn't it, Gloria? Let's take a look.

OBAMA: Thank you, everybody. Let's go change America.

BROWN: And they are off to the next one. The good news is, I think about six of them are all taking place in the Convention Center tonight. So that cuts down on the travel time a little bit.

But I guess when you have a Presidential motorcade that's not really a factor anyway.

When we come back, Jessica Yellin is at the All-Star Celebration tonight. Some of the biggest names in music and movies, they're all here in Washington. All here to party, Jessica will be telling us about that.

Then later, of course, the gown, the girls, Michelle and Sasha and Malia usher in a new sense of style. We'll have the latest on that as well.



OBAMA: For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth. And because we have tasted the bitter swill of Civil War and Segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatred shall some day pass, that the lines of tribes shall soon dissolve, that as the world grows smaller our common humanity shall reveal itself and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.


COOPER: We spent an awful lot of time today with our cameras trained on the high-powered people on the podium there on the west front of the Capitol. Understandable the focus today was on President Barack Obama and -- and First Lady, Michelle Obama.

But often when we turn the cameras around the real story was the two plus million or so people who stretched out some two miles, all along the Washington Mall, some 300,000 or 350,000 all along the parade route waiting for Barack Obama to emerge on that limousine as we saw him do twice today.

And that's what we want to talk about with our panel. The power of all those people today, what it means for today, what it means going forward in the political battles that Barack Obama will have in the days ahead.

We're joined again by CNN's contributor, Alex Castellanos, David Gergen, Hilary Rosen also from Huffington and Pamela Gentry, senior political from BET.

Is there political capital in that two million plus people?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Anderson. We heard him tonight at one of those balls talk about he looked out across that throng. He said this is not about me. It's about looking out across that vast sea of humanity of nearly them million people and them expressing the will for change, the desire for change. And now we, the people's representatives here in of Washington must deliver on that.

It echoed what he said in the Statuary Hall today at the luncheon with all the VIPs. He said we're the people's representatives in this room. We must listen to the people out there.

He's seizing upon that huge crowd for political leverage. He understands what it can mean.

COOPER: And Pamela, I mean, he has a tremendous ground swell of support. It's got to be among Republicans as well as Democrats because with the high approval ratings he has right now, you don't get that from Democrats alone; more than any other president has had at this point in office.

PAMELA GENTRY, SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, BET: And then "Wall Street Journal" did an interesting poll last week and they said that 68 percent of Republicans and independents said that they would like their members to be -- to work with him rather than to stand firm against him; to be ready for compromise. So that is something that's probably unheard of.

But I think today -- I was at Ben's Chili Bowl. BET did their broadcast from there. It was an emotional crowd. Every time he appeared, every time he spoke, and especially during his swearing in, some people were cheering, but a lot of people were just sitting silently almost in tears just watching it. It's really interesting, the emotional appeal that he has to people who are supporting him.

COOPER: It's interesting, Alex Castellanos from a Republican perspective -- the level of score -- if that poll from the "Wall Street Journal" that Pamela was talking about is true. How much is due to the economic crisis? All of a sudden we find ourselves in this economic crisis, in this freefall where you see the stock market tumbling 300 points today. We don't know where this thing is going to end. People are desperate for anyone at this point who may have some sort of an answer. ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think a tremendous amount of it is, Anderson, nothing unites the people of earth like a threat from Mars. Right now this economy is melting down, concerns us all. So the American people are not just saying, "Hey, we like you, Barack Obama," though they certainly are saying that. They're saying, "We want to invest our political capital in you. Do something about this."

I think there's also a real challenge in this young support that Obama has. The other side of this is, this is the social networking generation. They've never been told what to do by anybody.

And now -- they're very much more comfortable with the organic bottom up politics of the Obama campaign. They're now seeing the biggest expansion of top down, I'm going to tell you what to do government in history. What's going to happen when those two currents collide? I think that's a challenge for Obama.

GERGEN: Republicans pay a lot of attention to the throngs that are out there in the mall today? Will that matter to them?

CASTELLANOS: The Republicans are paying a lot of attention to it now. The Republicans are making, I think, a mistake though. They're thinking that it's about technology. That if they can just get on the Internet they can speak to young people. No. You've got to have much more an empowering message. Obama did. We as Republicans didn't.

HILARY ROSEN, HUFFINGTON POST: And the Obama team is not going to leave anything to chance. They are organized with a significant multi-million dollar organization that is geared up and ready to go to support this agenda to continue the momentum.

COOPER: We're going to continue our discussion. The inauguration balls continue well past midnight. We can't get into them now, of course, because we're working. But Jessica Yellin has managed to get by the velvet rope. Jessica is at the Ibiza nightclub where a star studded soiree is just getting started.

Jessica, what's the scene there?

Clearly, we're having some problems.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a packed dance floor. You're seeing all the D.C folks kind of awkwardly beep-bopping on the floor trying to have fun. A lot of celebrities here, we talked to a bunch of them including Courtney Cox and David Arquette. They're two of the sponsors of the evening.

They support the charity that -- Feeding America. We asked them a little bit about what it was like to see the Obamas up close. They were sitting up close at the inauguration. Here's what they had to say.


OBAMA: There is work to be done. The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift and we will act not only to create new jobs --

DAVID ARQUETTE, ACTOR: It's amazing. Caring mother that really --


YELLIN: I think that was not -- that was not the right spot. I will tell you the Cox-Arquettes told us that they were impressed by Barack Obama's family and their core unit. They really like them as role models for the nation and he wants to play basketball with the president as does most about every man we interview.

We also got a chance to talk to Rihanna, who's going to be headlining the show that's starting here soon. She's a hot celebrity but also from out of this country, she's from Barbados. And she was talking about the day Obama was elected; she was in Australia. And it impressed her the reaction his election got.

Here is her comment.


RIHANNA, SINGER: All the way in Australia -- I mean, I mentioned something about it on stage. People were -- like they were in America; like they were Americans. They felt it. It had such a strong impact all over the world. He's the first black president. Part of that is really what made it such a big deal to the rest of the world.


YELLIN: So, Anderson, we got a big party here tonight and a big show later. We'll bring you as much of it as we can as the evening goes on -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, thanks very much. Appreciate it, Jessica Yellin.

Also I think now the Obamas are at the Western Regional Ball. I think we're just getting that video in. We're trying to keep ahead of this very quickly moving motorcade.

Let's listen in to the president.

OBAMA: Today was about you, the American people and how you can achieve extraordinary things when you put your mind to it. How you can make possible what seemed impossible. How you can make real what seemed unreal.

And if you can do that in an election, then you can apply that same principle to making sure that we have work for people who need a job and health care for those who can afford it. That we preserve and protect this environment, this precious earth of ours. That we have a foreign policy that reflects our ideals.

It's all in your hands. The Obama administration will make government work. But we're not going to be able to do it by ourselves we're going to need you and so this is not the end. This is the beginning.

And if we have the same kind of mobilization, the same kind of willingness to go all out on behalf of what we value most, then I am absolutely convinced that we've got better days ahead.

And now I would like to dance with the person who's -- who's brung me, who does everything that I do, except she does it in heels; the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.


OBAMA: Let's go change America.

COOPER: And they are on to yet another ball. We believe it's their sixth ball of the night. They're supposed to hit ten balls. We're going to try to cover them all for you.

This is a kind of a fast-moving evening. We're not sure exactly what is coming up next, because their schedule, they've been behind schedule so they've been trying to switch things around. The schedule we got is a little different so we're just trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Our coverage continues.

There's been a lot of talk from the best political team on television while you all are watching the Obamas dance about what Michelle Obama is wearing. Hilary Rosen seems to have an opinion about it. Pamela Gentry seems to have an opinion about it.

I didn't hear Alex Castellanos's opinion or David Gergen's but we're eagerly awaiting that. I don't really have an opinion. I do like to watch them dance, though.

A lot of people though talking about that; we're going to talk about the fashions of Michelle Obama and also a lot about Sasha and Malia Obama as well.

Also the sights and sounds that we saw today from down inside the crowd; talking to people who came from all around America and all around the world just because they wanted to be here. They wanted to experience it for themselves. We'll hear from them ahead.


BROWN: You're looking at a live picture now. This is the Midwest Regional Ball. Sheryl Crow performing there in a little bit. Let's listen to the president speak.

OBAMA: We don't want somebody telling us what we can't do because yes, we can. If you can make this election possible and this Inauguration Day possible, then you can make good jobs for people who don't have jobs possible. You can make affordable health care possible. You can make a quality education for every child possible. You can make sure our veterans are treated properly. That's got to be possible. We are grateful to you.

But understand this is not the end. This is just the beginning. Together you and I, all of us, we can make sure that America's better days are ahead of us. Thank you. God bless you guys.

And now I'd like to dance with the one who brung me, who does everything that I do, except backwards and in heels; the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.


BROWN: We're going to watch them dance there at the Midwest Regional Ball as we mentioned, and bring in our guests. We've got right now our style expert, Robert Verdi, who's been with us tonight and Mary Alice Stephenson, celebrity stylist and contributing editor at Harper's Bazaar to update everyone on the dress which, of course, has been getting a lot of attention. Which I think looks beautiful on the dance floor; very flowy and white.

Mary Alice, give us your take on it.

MARY ALICE STEPHENSON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, HARPER'S BAZAAR: Jason was approached by Michelle's team and Ikram Goldman who is Michelle's stylist. Michelle's been buying clothes from his boutique in Chicago --

BROWN: And we should say -- let me just interrupt -- Jason Wu, who is the designer, he's a 26-year-old Taiwanese designer, correct?

STEPHENSON: He absolutely is. He's been designing for three years, based here in New York. He was approached by Ikram and Michelle's crew to submit sketches. And he did. They liked them. He submitted three dresses that were delivered to Michelle in December. One was white. And the other were colorful. And she chose this one. He was excited.

BROWN: You know what, Mary Alice? Hold that thought. Because it so happens that Jason Wu has called us. We've got him on the phone right now so we can hear it from the horse's mouth.

Jason, tell us how -- how thrilling this must be for you. Jason, are you there?

JASON WU, DESIGNED MICHELLE OBAMA'S DRESS: I've been on pins and needles all day, needless to say.

BROWN: Can you hear me?

WU: Yes.

BROWN: Tell us what this means to you, the fact that she's there wearing your design. That's got to be thrilling.

WU: It's thrilling. It's emotional. You know, it's inspiring. For a young designer, I couldn't ask for anymore than this. This is my dream come true. BROWN: So what was your vision here? You pictured her in this, you know, for how long?

WU: I pictured -- you know, I designed this dress with -- you know, I wanted it -- I wanted it to stand for everything she's about; her and president Obama is all about. It's about hope. It's about newness. It's about -- it's all a little dreamlike.

We're making history. I wanted to -- to really reflect that, you know. I wanted to be -- have a dreamlike quality.

BROWN: When did you find out that she was going to wear this? There were a number of choices, right?

WU: I found out tonight. I found out tonight.


WU: I did not know until the second she walked on the stage. I found out along with the rest of the world. You know, I was not given any -- I was not even given a hint. I did not know.

BROWN: That's so fantastic. So, Jason, this is probably going to change your life, I'm guessing, huh?

WU: You know, honestly right now, I am working on my fall show. Fashion week is approaching in two weeks. I've been working on stuff in the studio. I worked until -- pretty much I'm working until 8:00 today and starting next week all night.

It's a great boost for the show. It's really great. It's really -- it's given me a lot of inspiration to get back in the studio and work on my fall collection.

BROWN: So what do you think of her finally as -- as a fashion icon? What is she going to represent in terms of her image? What are we going to see her wearing and her look? How will it be different?

WU: I think she's going to really inspire. She had shown us that she has (inaudible) and versatile. She's been able to wear everything from J. Crew to designer. She is versatile. She's like -- she can do it all. She's amazing. And you know, she has her own sense of style and I think that is -- there's nothing better than that.

BROWN: Well, Jason, congratulations to you.

WU: Thank you.

BROWN: It's -- I'm sure a great honor. Jason Wu, who is the designer of the dress that Michelle Obama wore tonight.

Up next on the special edition of "360," Gary Tuchman with Kanye West.

Also, the big crowds, the big emotional moments, reflections on today's massive turnout on The Mall.

And President Obama's message from the podium for this nation and the world. That's all when we continue.


COOPER: Gary Tuchman joins us now. He's at the Youth Ball with Kanye West who performed a short time ago -- Gary.

TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, this Youth Ball is still rocking at the Washington Hilton. And with us, the star performer of the nigh, Kanye West, hip-hop R&B performer; you brought down the house, Kanye. How did it feel to be at this performance? You've done a lot of performances but how did this one feel?

KANYE WEST, SINGER: It's just amazing to be involved with this. The energy in the house is really crazy and everybody is really receptive. It just made me feel really free on stage.

TUCHMAN: And when you performed "Love Lockdown," you brought down this place, man. Obama came about an hour later and they were ready to go for Obama because they listened to your music.

WEST: Yes, I mean, to be able to open up for the president is -- I mean, the entire thing is a dream come true. I'm just happy to be involved.

TUCHMAN: You're not usually the opening act. But this was okay, hey?

WEST: Yes, this is the only time I will be the opening act.

TUCHMAN: Were you nervous at all because of this event?

WEST: Yes, I was nervous. I definitely said a few prayers when I was in my dressing room. As we put together the medley that we're going to perform later this night. And it all came together.

TUCHMAN: Final question -- what do you think of Barack Obama being the President of the United States right now?

WEST: I think it's overwhelming. I think he's in touch with the people, his humanity. People realize that and they celebrate that and that's why they celebrate him. I feel like -- I feel like at the end of it was day, Bush was a -- he was a human being and I think a lot of things got overshadowed.

Now just for me to stand up and say right now, like, wow; this is a real person at the end of the day who has feelings and hurts too. It's just a shame that he couldn't have done more at the end of his term to, you know, save his legacy in some way.

TUCHMAN: But we have a new president now starting his four-year term today. And Kanye West, thank you for talking to us. It's good to see you. Usually people leave these balls when the presidential candidate speaks; they're all still here, more than 2,000 people. Anderson back to you.

COOPER: They certainly are that. It has been a remarkable evening watching. Now the Obamas still have a few more balls to get to. They're actually ahead of schedule. This is actually kind of surprising. We'll continue to follow them.

I think they have three more balls to get to.

"Larry King Live" is coming up very soon. But we'll be right back after this short break.


COOPER: Some late-breaking news amid the celebrations, we are just getting word that the Obama administration has suspended all military commission cases at Guantanamo Bay for 120 days. The cases had been proceeding almost up until today; now a hold.

Some 245 detainees remain in the system; 21 have been formally charged, 60 have been cleared for release. Now all of that is in limbo. No doubt that will be a big headline tomorrow.

The Obamas continue to go to celebrations this evening. We'll continue to follow them. A special edition of "Larry King Live" begins in a moment.

Campbell Brown, I want to bring her in, thank her for staying up late with us, as well as all our panelists and camera folks and technicians and all the people who've made this possible -- Campbell.

BROWN: It took a lot of them, Anderson, as you know. It's been quite a long day. Everybody has hung in there. And what an extraordinary day it has been for all of us to watch and to be part of -- Anderson.

COOPER: Absolutely. "Larry King Live" begins now -- Larry.