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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Obama Era Begins

Aired January 20, 2009 - 23:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Tonight --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: America's 44th president is sworn into Office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: So help me God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And history with challenges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: They are serious and many.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Goals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Greatness is never a gift. It must be earned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And even a threat to the country's enemies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You cannot outlast us and we will defeat you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Celebrations are still going strong at this hour. And Usher is here. Will.I.Am will perform.

And we'll have an update for Senator Ted Kennedy. How's he doing after a health scare today?

All next on a special inauguration night edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

KING: Good evening, it's been quite a day and night; Washington still awhirl with all kinds of inaugural parties and celebrations.

The Obamas are racing from one ball to another. I think they are going to number seven right now and they've got three to go. We'll be checking in at some of them.

But first, let's meet our guests: Will.I.Am, the acclaimed producer and musician, front man for the Black Eyed Peas and early supporter of Barack Obama. He was inspired to write "Yes We Can," "It's a New Day" and "America's Song." He will perform "It's a New Day" at the end of the show tonight. It's incredible. We pre-taped it. Wait until you see it.

Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor of Huffington Post.

And Jeff Johnson, managing editor and chief correspondent for "The Truth with Jeff Johnson" on BET.

What's your reaction to today, Will?

WILL.I.AM, MUSICIAN: I think it's beautiful, it's refreshing. We have now the fuel to step into the future and continue to inspire the world. And hopefully muster some type of way to continue to educate our children.

KING: Were you moved, Arianna?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Very moved. I took my 19- year-old daughter to the Capitol this morning to actually be there when he was sworn in. And it was very moving being there with her and a lot of other young people and getting there early and experiencing the excitement mounting.

And then, when he spoke, it was clear that his message was a very somber message. I mean, his opening line was "I'm humbled by the task ahead." You know, the enormity of the task, the challenges that he talked again and again about.

And the message for me really was grow up, America.

The most compelling moment was when he quoted scripture and he said it's time to give up childish things.

KING: Jeff, what went through you when he put his hand on the bible and took that oath?

JEFF JOHNSON, "THE TRUTH WITH JEFF JOHNSON": I'll be honest with you that that wasn't the moving part for me. I was expecting that. I had been anticipating that. I had been envisioning that.

It was really for me after that process had gone forward, after he gave a very eloquent and pragmatic and I think somber speech.

And then Reverend Lowery started the benediction. And he started it with the third stanza of the Negro National Anthem. And, to me, that's when I got moved. It was this culmination of this fusion of so many cultural and human realities coming together in a way in America that they'd never come together before.

When you could hear the third stanza of the Negro National Anthem before the National Anthem was sung and it made sense.

KING: Let's listen to a little of the 44th President's inaugural address. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end. That we did not turn back, nor did we falter. And with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forward the great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Will, you performed at the Neighborhood Ball earlier. The President was there, I gather. What was that like?

WILL.I.AM: Once again, another wonderful thing to be a part of. I got emotional performing there. Because I couldn't help but to think about my childhood and the schools I attended and I'm -- I'm from California. And I think its $250 million cut from the California school systems.

And we have a very, very tough task ahead of us. And being a part of that, knowing -- coming from the projects and going through grade school, I felt blessed. I knew my mom was at home, proud. Just being involved in it, it was beautiful.

KING: How high is the expectancy? I mean, can he reach that?

HUFFINGTON: Well, actually, he made it very clear that he should not be expected to reach it alone. That's why again and again in the speech, he called on everybody to do their part.

And he actually extolled what he called the doers of things, the makers of things; the people who make things as opposed to the people who make things up. He didn't say that, but that was sort of the assumption that we spend far too much time extolling people who make up derivatives in Wall Street, or who make up stuff that have no real value, so that speech was really about real value.

KING: I want to show you a great moment. And Jeff, I'd like you to comment on this. Over a million people went on to the Mall today. And lots of emotion.

Watch this young girl from Chicago with her grandfather. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOIRA BROWN: My name is Moira Brown (ph), I'm from Chicago, Illinois. And this is my grandpa. Judge Keith, he's a judge in Detroit and I feel so great being here with him. He fought for civil rights his whole life. And then I look for the future generation, I feel like it's so cool.

JUDGE DAMON KEITH: I would like to say this -- I have seen three historical events in my life. When Mandela came to Detroit, Mayor Coleman Young asked me to introduce him at Tiger Stadium. And I did that.

I was here for the march on Washington for Martin Luther King.

And I'm here today to see this man become President of the United States. It's a great event. Shows you what can happen in America. We are good people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Two things there. The last one first -- you see the emotions that are birthed from the manifestation of generations of sacrifice and work. And I don't think that anyone African-American or otherwise takes away the fact that there were those that toiled in the vineyard that there could be a Barack Obama.

But what's even more exciting is the energy of a granddaughter who is excited about not only Barack Obama but was excited to be there with her grandfather who had obviously planted a seed.

And so I think that part of what Will talked about with his own experience and speaking of these young people is that there's a real opportunity that we have -- with the Obamas in the White House -- I think to spark a new kind of energy, a creative energy, a human energy, and an energy of service that we haven't seen in this country in quite sometime.

KING: We have some breaking news late tonight.

In one of his first acts in office, President Obama has ordered the U.S. government to suspend prosecutions of prisoners at Guantanamo for 120 days; that's according to a military spokesman.

So when between all of the celebration, President Obama down to business already. We'll keep you updated on that.

There was a shadow on today's inauguration's celebration. Senator Ted Kennedy who's battling a brain tumor suffered an apparent seizure at the post-inaugural luncheon. Doctors say it was brought on by fatigue. The Senator has been hospitalized. Late word is he's doing well with good spirits and according to Senator John Kerry, has his eye on our show. We wish him well.

Still ahead, Will.I.Am will sing "It's a new Day." And we're going to go to some balls. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama solemnly swear --

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back. The Youth Ball took place tonight. There's some of the scene there. You had to be between 18 and 35. It was the lowest priced ball, except for the free ball of the night; admission was $75. The average age was 18 to 24.

By the way, Will.I.Am has agreed to direct a short film of music video for CNN shot at the end of the week based on today's inauguration and that should be airing pretty soon. Good idea.

WILL.I.AM, SINGER: Yes, they called me today. Under pressure -- I don't know how to execute it.

Oprah called me a week and a half ago and asked me to write a song for her Oprah tapings here in D.C. I wrote a song called "America's Song" and performed it with Bono, Faith Hill, Seal, Mary J. Blige and myself.

KING: Yes, but who?

WILL.I.AM: I watched it yesterday on the Internet. I couldn't believe that I was a part of that song.

KING: What kind of singer are you?

WILL.I.AM: I ain't a singer.

KING: You're not a singer?

WILL.I.AM: No, I just use my imagination and end up there.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTON POST: But you know Larry, what is interesting is Oprah asked him to do a song, CNN asked him to do a documentary. But the first -- the big thing that he did during this campaign, the "Yes, We Can" was something that you came up yourself. You decided to do it, nobody asked you.

In a sense that's really what we all have to do to see what is our part in this journey, what are we going to do? KING: There are a the Obamas; this is the Southern Ball. He's pretty much been making the same speech in each of the balls because the people there haven't seen one of the others. Mrs. Obama looks gorgeous. They'll do their schtick and then dance in a little while.

Jeff, what do you make of this -- I'm sorry, we're told to let's listen in.

OBAM: Inauguration is wonderful as it's been for Michelle and myself. This inauguration is not the end of the beginning. And in the days and weeks and months and years to come, I hope all of you have been reinvigorated to participate in the democracy. Because we're going to need you in order to bring about the changes that are possible in this nation.

I hope you've had a wonderful day. With that, I want to dance with the one who brung me, the love of my life who does everything I do except backwards and in heels. The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

(PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AND FIRST LADY, MICHELLE OBAMA DANCING.)

KING: Jeff Johnson, what do you make of the suspension of the prosecutions at Guantanamo?

JEFF JOHNSON: I think a lot of us anticipated that Gitmo was going to be one of the first places that he exhibited an executive order. It just was how.

I think there will be some that will pleased with the 120-day stay but I think there will be some that say that's not enough. And perhaps it's a first step towards closing. But I don't think it's a surprise for many people. I'm not surprised by it.

KING: You surprise?

HUFFINGTON: No, of course I'm not surprised. But I'll say, it sounded in a way -- he alluded to in his speech today when he that America can be strong without betraying our moral values. That's really a fundamental message that came through everything that he said about foreign policy, too.

KING: You're not surprised, Will?

WILL.I.AM: No.

KING: He pretty much said he was going to do it. Do you expect other executive orders quickly?

HUFFINGTON: Oh, yes. There is one coming up this week, creating an office of social innovation which is going to be very central to all the things he'd been talking about in terms of service and taking all these energy that has been unleashed and directing it in ways that become central to governing. So they're not just kind of the icing on the cake. KING: You know, one item that wasn't covered much today, maybe it's because it was kind of yesterday's news, were you surprised that President Bush had no pardons?

JOHNSON: No. I think that President Bush is the most relieved president in the history of American politics to leave office. And that he had gotten to a place where he really was looking toward to getting on that helicopter, sitting with Laura, popping a bottle of grape juice and flying off into the sunset.

HUFFINGTON: Not as much as the American people were looking forward to seeing them in that helicopter.

KING: Thanks Will.I.Am, Arianna Huffington, Jeff Johnson, we'll be calling on you again and lots.

Who or what should be on the president's to-do list? Tell us your thoughts at cnn.com/larryking and click on blog and we'll read some of the suggestions later in the show.

Barack Obama's first speech as president, was it as serious as it was ambitious? We'll get to it in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. There you see Joe Biden and his lovely wife at -- this is the Eastern Ball. What happens is each candidate, each elected official goes to the ball, makes a few remarks -- these are the same remarks at each -- and then dances with the missus.

President Obama talked tough in his speech today. He was clear about what ails America and equally direct about the there being no easy fix.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: That we are in the midst of a crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened; a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many. And each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is the sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable; that the next generation must lower its sights.

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Once again at the Eastern Ball, Joe and Jill Biden, the vice president and his missus at the Eastern Ball tonight.

Up next, Usher joins us from the Youth Ball.

It's Inauguration Night on "LARRY KING LIVE," stick around.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: God love you all and thank you for your help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us now at the Youth Ball is Usher, the singer song writer working as MTV's guest correspondent for "Be The Change" live from the inaugural. What's it been like, Usher?

What's it been like?

USHER, SINGER: Okay. How are you guys doing?

KING: do you hear me okay?

USHER: I don't know whether to celebrate or to talk.

Hey, America, how are you doing?

KING: I'm fine.

USHER: Are we live?

KING: Yes, you're live. What's it been like?

USHER: Well, if we are live, we are here at the MTV Youth Inaugural Ball. Barack Obama has graced the stage as the president of the United States of America with the First Lady.

We had an incredible time tonight. Kanye West performed The Fallout Boys, as well as Kid Rock; it was an incredible event. Man, this is -- this is beautiful. I mean everything that we've seen in the last year should motivate all of us to be very positive. Think positive and be optimistic. I'm so happy to be an American right now.

KING: Have you campaigned in an election before? Have you ever campaigned before?

USHER: I'm sorry?

KING: Have you ever campaigned before.

USHER: Actually, this will be the second time. Bill Bradley was the first time I had ever campaigned. But when I men Barack Obama, I knew for sure he definitely had a very promising future.

At the time, I don't think presidential campaigning was on his agenda. But he's proven to be an incredible success story for all of us. I'm very, very happy to be an American, as I said, for our ancestors that came to this country and experienced slavery and the segregation that continues to plague our country every day. It becomes more abolished each and every moment with this reality. I'm very, very happy at the progress that we've made.

But yet there's more that lies ahead of us. As he said in the speech today, they're reforming of the greatness of our nation. We understand the greatness is never given but something that must be earned. President Barack Obama was right about that.

Yes, change has come to America, but we represent the mobility of it. To continue to, you know, rebuild our communities and invest into community service. It's incredible.

Today was not only about the celebration and the inauguration of our president, but also the showing of an incredible service project that we did in Canada as well as here in D.C. at -- at, you know, at a high school -- elementary school. As well as the house in New Orleans.

But those are very, very the major things that have been done. There's so much that we can do as Americans in our own communities. And I'm just very happy, man. Very, very happy.

KING: We're happy for you, Usher. Did you see President Obama when he came there?

USHER: Actually, we saw him on stage, we saw the first dance, the first kiss. He showed us a little old school. We do it fast on the dance floor, he basically took his time. We were able to see if first kiss. It was an incredible moment.

KING: You're an incredible performer. Thank you for joining us Usher.

USHER: And you're an incredible host if anybody hadn't already told you that, sir.

KING: Thank you, Usher. The brilliant Usher; singer, song writer. He wrote "Be the Change Live" -- he's a correspondent for "Be the Change Live" from the inaugural for MTV

Fashion and the inaugural always plays a part. We're going to get into it right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions; that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Now the world of fashion as it relates to this day. In New York is Tim Gunn, fashion expert, chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne, known to millions as the on-the-air mentor of the competing designers on "Project Runway." And Robin Givhan, she is the Pulitzer prize winning fashion editor of "The Washington Post."

What did you make of the -- we start with Robin -- the First Lady's inaugural ball gown.

ROBIN GIVHAN, FASHION EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: You know I thought it was an incredibly romantic gown and I thought it was very youthful. What I thought was particularly interesting is that it's the most revealing gown we've seen a First Lady wear really since Nancy Reagan.

KING: Really?

GIVHAN: Yes, I mean, Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton all wore gowns that were very covered up, a high neckline. So I thought that was striking. And I love the fact that she chose a young designer; someone that we haven't heard of.

KING: A Latino, right?

GIVHAN: Jason Wu, no. He was born in Taipei.

KING: Taipei.

GIVHAN: Exactly.

KING: Tim, what did you make of the gown?

TIM GUNN, FASHION EXPERT: Well, Larry, I have to say I have particular biases here because Jason Wu was my student at Parson's. So I'm absolutely enraptured by this gown.

KING: What about what she wore, Robin, to the inaugural, the yellow thing, the yellow ...

(LAUGHTER)

GIVHAN: That's a yellow frock.

KING: The yellow frock.

GIVHAN: The yellow smock.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What did you think of it?

GIVHAN: I thought it was really beautiful. Again, I thought the choice of designer was really intriguing, Isabel Toledo. Not a usual suspect, someone you really have to seek out and someone who is incredibly respected in the industry and doesn't get much play.

KING: Tim, what did you make of the yellow outfit? GUNN: Well, Larry, Robin and I were always on the same page, I have say. I was disarmed by the choice of that dress. I thought it was dressier than I expected Michelle Obama to go with this. But her husband is being sworn in as president of the United States. Let's be exuberant. Let's really wrap it all up. I thought it was fabulous.

KING: Let's chat with Tim this time. The president's attire. To the balls he wears a white bow tie with a single vent notch collar tuxedo.

GUNN: Larry, you know, for -- for us guys, it's so easy. I mean, really, this is a no-brainer. It's -- the women, it's much more challenging for them.

KING: (INAUDIBLE), he can't go wrong with what he wore?

GUNN: I agree.

KING: What about Jill Biden, Robin? Her inaugural ball outfit?

GIVHAN: You know, I actually started to feel a little bit guilty about Jill Biden because I didn't really pay much attention to her lovely clothes because we were all so fixated on Michelle Obama.

But I thought she looked really fantastic and I loved that she wore boots with her coat at the swearing in, because, again, both of these women are dressing in ways that, I think, are so contemporary and really are helping to take the image of first ladies and vice president's wives out of this kind of sealed and amber.

KING: You like the coat?

GIVHAN: I love the coat. I think it's a really great color for her.

KING: I like the coat, too. How do you sum up the new first lady's image, Tim?

GUNN: Well...

KING: What vision -- what is she sending out?

GUNN: Larry, she's sophisticated, she's polished, she has a comfort in her own skin that makes us feel confident in who she is. I think that's the greatest compliment that I could possibly give her. You want to come up and give her a great big hug. You feel that she's accessible and you feel that she wants that.

KING: Comparable to Jackie Kennedy, Robin?

GIVHAN: You know, there's been so much comparison to her because of their -- their mutual affection for sheath dresses and pearls. But you know, I -- I tend to think that Jackie doesn't get to own the sheath dress. I think that their similarity comes really in their youthfulness and then the way they really were able to use fashion to communicate a message that was in sync with the husband's White House.

KING: Tim, what about the kids? GUNN: They're wonderful, too. And today, dressed in J. Crew, it's fashionable yet it's accessible. And in this economic crisis to be stylish and a fashionable on a purported budget it's the greatest message we can send to America.

KING: Are short skirts fashionable, Robin?

GIVHAN: On 7 and 10-year-olds, they are.

KING: What about on first ladies?

GIVHAN: Well, you know, a lot of it depends on the kind of legs you have and your age. But, you know, I think that the key is not to really be concerned about whether or not they're in or out. I mean, fashion rules have gone by the wayside a lot. It's really just figuring out which silhouette works for you.

KING: Tim, these are tough times for lots of industries including fashion. Are the designers and retailers hoping that the Obama style is going to be a new economic stimulus?

GUNN: Indeed, Larry. And I have no doubt that they will be an incredible stimulus for retail. And I'm just crossing my fingers that it will happen sooner rather than later.

KING: Robin, what do you think?

GIVHAN: Well, I suppose I'm a little bit more skeptical than Tim is about the effect overall on retail. But I -- I do tend to think that where she'll have a huge impact is with some of these -- these lesser known brands. I mean these are folks who don't have the budget to advertise. So without this kind of high-profile personality wearing their clothes, we don't know about them.

KING: Generally, Tim, do you think the critics will be as kind to the first lady as you two have been tonight?

GUNN: Larry, I hope so. I mean Michelle Obama is a huge barometer for fashion and for style. And I think that she and the president are our great hope and I'm totally invested in them and only want the best for all of us.

KING: Robin?

GIVHAN: I hope that - well, I suspect that probably we will not be quite as kind as the years go by and there are the inevitable fashion faux pas. But you know, I think at the moment, there is a sense of celebration, because here's someone who really understand fashion, embraces fashion, and is willing to wear it. So, at this stage in the game, it's just all about -- it's a lovefest.

KING: Thanks, Robin. Very informative.

GIVHAN: Pleasure.

KING: Thanks, Tim. Always good seeing you. GUNN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Tim Gunn and Robin Givhan. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. This is a special edition, a midnight edition, a post-inaugural edition. Back in our regular time tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and one of the guests will be the speaker of House, Nancy Pelosi.

Back with more after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, everybody. Did you enjoy today? Today was your day. Today was a day that represented all your efforts, all your faith, all your confidence in what's possible in America.

They said it couldn't be done and you did it. And if we apply that not to just elections but to governance, to how we rebuild our communities, and when people tell you that we can't employ folks who are out of work, you say...

CROWD: Yes, we can.

OBAMA: When folks say well, you can't fix the health care system.

CROWD: Yes, we can.

OBAMA: Some of our kids are destined to fail in school, you say, we can change it.

CROWD: Yes, we can.

OBAMA: There is something in the spirit of the American people that insists on re-creating this country when we get a little bit off course. And that's what's powered this election. It's what's given our team the kind of energy that has allowed us to overcome extraordinary obstacles and it's what given me so much confidence that our better days are ahead.

As long as all of you understand that this is not the end, this is the beginning. And in - we are going need you tomorrow, we're going to need you next week. We're going to need you next month, next year, and out into the future because government alone can't do it. We're going to need you each and every step of the way.

If you're willing to join us, then I think that we can continue this extraordinary ride. This is our last event of inauguration day. And so since -- since the first lady of the United States has been doing the same thing that I have been doing, except backwards and in heels, let me ask her for one last dance.

KING: As Frank Sinatra would sing, "It's the Last Dance."

David Theall is making the party rounds tonight blogging from one of the balls.

David, where are you? And what are people saying?

DAVID THEALL, BLOGGER-IN-CHIEF: Larry, as you know from your time here in D.C., there are two events that get D.C. excited. And that is, of course, the White House Correspondents Dinner and inaugural events. And Larry, this town is alive tonight.

We are at the Feeding America Recording Industry Association of America charity inaugural ball. Rihanna is on stage right now. She is headlining. Cher just walked the red carpet (INAUDIBLE) a while ago. Shakira is here. David Arquette and his lovely wife Courteney Cox are here. They're going to be joining me here in just a little while.

I also have to tell you, Larry, that we've begun live blogging as we have been doing recently. We are live blogging during this inaugural ball. And our question on the blog today was, for people to make a to-do list for President Obama.

If you have the chance to make a to-do list, what would you put on that to-do list? That's CNN.com/LarryKing. Of course, we've heard about the economy and of course, we have heard about health care and immigration return.

And, Larry, I have to tell you one thing that we've also heard and that is somebody said on his to-do list was keep yourself healthy, to President Obama, and somebody else said tell Vice President Biden not to talk so long.

That's how it is here at this inauguration ball, Larry. CNN.com/LarryKing. That's where the blog is at.

KING: That's our man, David Theall, always on the scene.

David Arquette, and we think Courteney Cox are next. They're at the celebration that just might have the most star power tonight, or should I say this morning. We'll check with them right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: How good looking is my wife?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: By the way, a program reminder. I love to say that. Program reminder. On Thursday night on LARRY KING LIVE, our special guest is a United States senator. You may have heard of him. Senator John McCain of Arizona.

John McCain will be with us on Thursday night. He's almost become a part of the administration. He's certainly been called on a lot.

Arianna Huffington returns as we have -- David Arquette is at one of those big balls and it's very hard sometimes to connect to, Arianna has graciously returned.

What do you make of the way he's using McCain?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, THE HUFFINGTON POST: UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think all this bipartisan stuff is great. (INAUDIBLE) about what he wants to do. And then being as gracious as he has been, having a bipartisan dinner for John McCain that he had, another bipartisan dinner honoring Collin Powell, all those are great (INAUDIBLE). And they're going to make it much easier to plan the (INAUDIBLE) when he really wants to pass the legislation, if he wants to pass or create the climate of opinion that oppose what he's doing to make that happen.

KING: What -- what is fixating about him? Because he certainly is. I mean, he's -- he's a nice-looking man. He's not Clark Gable. What is fixating about him?

HUFFINGTON: First of all, it's an amazing story, Larry. You know, this man whom -- whose father abandoned him, whose mother basically also left and made -- allowed him to sort of be brought up by the grandmother. And he had all this really rough beginning and yet he managed to overcome all the obstacles and end up where he is today.

And I think there's so much about him that is like a teachable moment for people. He's unflappability, his equanimity during the campaign. You could throw anything at him and he remains centered. And the fact that they're bringing the grandmother to the White House, I think, is a great teachable moment. I love it.

I mean, as you know, my mother lives with me and my children, the great yaya. So the sense that so many people are on this country who are struggling with child care while their parents are in old people's homes can see what's happening in the White House is another teachable moment.

KING: What's the weakness?

HUFFINGTON: Well, the weakness as he has really indicated himself is that he still hasn't overcome his smoking habit. So that's something that he will have to deal with because dealing with stress has to be done in a way that's not involved smoking because then you end up having to do it not in front of the press, not in front of people who are going to talk about it and create this sort of sense of secrecy which is not helpful.

KING: Why would that be? Roosevelt smoked, Lyndon Johnson smoked. But in -- you're saying today's day and age...

HUFFINGTON: This is 2009, you know.

KING: ... you can't smoke?

HUFFINGTON: No, because there's too much medical evidence about how destructive it is, how many deaths it leads to. So -- and he's also a role model. He's been an incredible role model. And he's not just the commander in chief. He's not just, in many ways, as a policy maker in chief. He's also the role model in chief.

And he, like every transformative president, is going to use the bully pulpit to send out certain messages as he did during the speech today when he talked so much about the old values of the American character.

KING: What are you expecting from Hillary Clinton?

HUFFINGTON: I actually was at a dinner earlier today where she spoke and she looked beautiful and glamorous in her ball gown and she was very excited, you could tell, about launching into something enormous at this time in history being secretary of state when American credibility abroad has to be rebuilt.

And she's such a hardworking woman. I mean we saw that during the confirmation hearing. She was so prepared for every question they threw at her. So she's going to be incredibly well prepared, incredibly hardworking. And this could end up being a very good decision.

KING: And we'll be back with some more. Don't forget, Will.I.Am, still to come, and a great singing performance with a fantastic group of kids. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A whole lot of effort has gone in to CNN's inauguration coverage and no one's worked harder than Jane Maxwell, head of CNN's special events team. Jane is a CNN original with the network since it started. And this is her last presidential inauguration with CNN. She's retiring. And boy, is she going to be missed.

Thanks for all of the terrific work, Jane, and the best of luck.

Now we're going to go to the Feeding America, ARIAA, that's the recording industry of America ball. David Arquette and Courteney Cox Arquette, there they are, standing by.

What -- what's been it like -- what's it been like for you, David?

DAVID ARQUETTE, ACTOR, ACTIVIST: It's been amazing. I mean, what a day to be part of history, such a -- it's a -- words can't describe it.

KING: Courteney, what did you think of the speech?

COURTENEY COX ARQUETTE, ACTRESS: I thought it was amazing and beautiful, and everything I would ever hope it to be. It's fantastic.

KING: How old is Coco, your daughter, David?

D. ARQUETTE: She's 4 1/2.

C. ARQUETTE: She was just here.

D. ARQUETTE: Yes.

C. ARQUETTE: She just left. It was a little loud for her.

D. ARQUETTE: Yes, we didn't take her to the swearing in either because it's a little too cold, too long to wait, too many people.

KING: What do you think Obama's presidency, Courteney, will mean for her?

C. ARQUETTE: Oh, it will mean, you know -- it will mean everything. It will mean people serving their country in ways of -- charitable ways, it will mean her environment and her economy and everything is intact. And...

D. ARQUETTE: Yes. It's like a -- it seems like there's a change in sort of consciousness and the whole sort of movement. We need a leader who can just have a positive influence and it's just a perfect time for our world and our country.

And I love what they're saying about serving your country. That's why we're sort of here at Feeding America. I'm the chairman of the entertainment council and it's -- Feeding America is the nation's largest hunger relief organization.

KING: David, we'll be...

D. ARQUETTE: Feed over 25 million Americans a year.

KING: We'll be calling on you both again. David Arquette and Courteney Cox Arquette.

Will.I.Am performs next.

D. ARQUETTE: Thank you.

KING: And he's brought a few of his friends to back him up. A 35- member choir. It's going to be good. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Will.I.Am was on the Obama bandwagon from the beginning. Inspired by the candidate, the man and his message, he wrote "It's a New Day" in Barack Obama's honor and he's here to sing it for us with the Agape Choir of Los Angeles.

Watch.

(MUSIC)

KING: The inauguration is over. But our great guest list -- guest list, rather, never ends. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is here tomorrow. Bob Woodward will join us. And the queen of soul herself, Aretha Franklin will stop by.

That's LARRY KING LIVE Wednesday. And Thursday, John McCain, what's he thinking about America's new president? You could bet I'll ask.

Go to CNN.com/LarryKing. Tell us what you think. We're open all night.

Senator Kennedy, get well. Time now for more inauguration coverage on "AC 360."