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Caroline Kennedy's Senate Bid Over; Barack Obama's First Day in Office; Interview with Nancy Pelosi

Aired January 21, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, it's President Obama's first full day in office and the pressure is on.
What decisions must he make in his first hundred days to get a grip on the country's problems?

First, he had to be sworn in again.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The office of president of the United States faithfully.


KING: Plus, is Nancy Pelosi already at odds with Obama?

The House Speaker's here in an exclusive sit-down.

And breaking news -- Caroline Kennedy out of the running for the U.S. Senate.

And music royalty -- Aretha Franklin is with us.


KING: Yes, the queen of soul, right now on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

We begin with two terrific journalists. Here in Washington, Bob Woodward, a frequent guest on this program. Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, associate editor of "The Washington Post," number one "New York Times" best-selling author, most recent book, "The War Within."

And in L.A. another one of our favorite folk, Tavis Smiley. The host of "The Tavis Smiley Show" on PBS. He is presenting the American I AM African-American Imprint Exhibit. That exhibit opened last week at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia -- the start of a four year national tour. And we'll ask about that in a while.

OK, I'll start with you, Bob.

Caroline Kennedy, surprised?

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: No, actually. I mean, she's a shy person, stayed out of the limelight. I've had some interaction with her and I think she's quite smart. But, you know, not tested.

And I suspect people said to her, is this worth it?

Do you want to do this at this stage of your life?

And so...

KING: Do you think, therefore -- if you agree, Tavis -- that the sickness of Uncle Ted was an excuse?

TAVIS SMILEY, HOST, "THE TAVIS SMILEY SHOW": I suspect that might have something to do with it. And I'm not sure I'd call it an excuse. It may be a legitimate issue, given how close she is to her uncle.

But I think that Bob Woodward is right about the fact that she is untested. And when she got out to be tested in the media, she did not do as well. Clearly, she was no Sarah Palin here, but she didn't do as well, I think, as people might have hoped or expected. And it certainly put the governor -- Governor Paterson, in a tight spot. I know he has to be relieved. I would think, at least, that the pressure on him to pick Caroline Kennedy is dissipating now. And he can go the way that he thinks is best for the State of New York.

KING: Does that make anyone the favorite, Bob?

WOODWARD: No idea. No idea.

I mean, isn't it kind of Saturday he's going to announce this?

KING: Supposedly. I saw him today.


KING: And he said the end of the week.


KING: So I would assume Saturday.

All right, Tavis, what about retaking the oath?


KING: Is that fun or what do you make of that?

SMILEY: I got a kick out of it. I mean, yesterday, we all saw, of course, the chief justice fumble and stumble and bumble those 35 words. It's one of the things I'm learning, Larry, as I get older -- I don't try to remember things. I write things down.

If he had had a simple index card in front of him, this might not have happened.

But it -- let's be honest, it was his first time doing it, even though it was just 35 words. But I think the Obama administration made the right decision, for all those conspiracy theorists who believe that he is not actually the president because he didn't quote the words in the right order. It was the right thing to do. I'm glad it's behind us.

But let's face it, it was a little funny.

KING: All right, Bob, there's no more presidential expert than you.

Is he off to a good start?

WOODWARD: Yes, he is. I thought the inaugural address -- it didn't rise to high rhetoric. But on rereading it, there's a lot in there that actually -- he goes right to the moment and he says, I'm humbled. And thanks to George Bush. And then he says we're in a crisis.

And on the economic front, what is quite interesting, the dog that doesn't bark. There are no specifics. There's not a talk of bailout and trillions of dollars and what's happening with banks.

But in foreign policy, he actually lays out -- when you read the speech, kind of a six point plan. And the first point is very, very clear, that he said it's a false choice between safety and our ideals. He made it clear we're not going to interrogate harshly.

KING: What did you think of the speech, Tavis?

SMILEY: As I get older, Larry, I come to believe that, as Americans -- Republican, Democrat, black or white, conservative or liberal -- we all want the same thing. And that is to live in a nation that is as good as its promise.

His election, his inauguration, moves us, I believe, one step closer to being a nation, Larry, that is as good as its promise.

I agree with Bob -- with most of what he just said. I would only add this. I think, Bob, he did a good job of -- Mr. Obama, that is -- President Obama now. He did a good job in his speech of managing expectations on the one hand, but at the same time giving us enough to hold him accountable to.

I've talked before, Larry, about the fact that I think that what the country witnessed is what I call an engagement dividend. Clearly, Americans of all races and colors and creeds and stripes were engaged in this campaign -- in this contest for the White House by Mr. Obama.

The question now is, how does he want to spend -- invest that engagement dividend?

I suspect in the coming days, we'll get more of his thoughts on how we use -- how he wants to call upon us to invest and to engage ourselves in this process.

Not enough of that yesterday. But I suspect in the days to come, we'll get more of that. WOODWARD: And he really kind of hit a note about the psychology of total engagement. He said, look, this idea that you totally commit to something, roll up your sleeves and work hard -- and, you know, that's the message. And the other element in this message, he fingered the greed on Wall Street and elsewhere. But he said there is a collective failure here on the part of the citizenry, which was unusual.

KING: Woodward and Smiley will be with us through most of the program.

When we come back, the speaker of the House. And a great pleasure to have her with us. Nancy Pelosi is next. It's exclusive.

Don't go away.



KING: On this historic occasion, we're back at the House of Representatives with the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

You were just a few feet from everything yesterday.

What was that like?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: It was very exciting just to witness history and then to see the challenges that we have ahead. To hear this new, young president speak with such strength, inspiring such hope, so eloquently, it was just amazing.

And to look out over the crowd -- I say there's nothing more eloquent than Obama's speech than perhaps the eloquence of the size of the crowd and the attention they paid.

KING: Yes. But it wasn't everything's honky dory.

PELOSI: No. That's -- that was the strength of it, that he was strong and brave enough to talk about the challenges we face, the optimism he has that we can meet those challenges and the direction he wants to give us to work together.

KING: What do you make of his approval rating, now 80 percent?

PELOSI: Isn't that great?

I think it's based on two things.

First of all, it's based on him and the inspiration that he has provided for our country and the hope that he has given people, but, also, the crisis that we have. And people know things have to go in a different

-- we need a new direction for our country. And they like what they hear coming from him. KING: And there are areas that you and him and that (INAUDIBLE) -- well, I want to get into that. But two other things before I get into that.

What do you make of freezing all salaries?

PELOSI: Oh, I think what he's doing this morning is -- today, is very important. It's about the highest ethical standard in the White House in terms of salaries, in terms of -- well, not that -- that's not necessarily ethical, but it is very -- it's important to do. But the ethical part that is important is the revolving door of people who've worked outside government coming in and then going back out to the private sector in a way that might have personal aggrandizement for them.

KING: Wouldn't you wonder why we haven't had this before?

PELOSI: We tried. We tried to do this. But we really can't direct, from Congress, what the White House does as far as these things.

KING: Yes, it does.

PELOSI: But he could. And that's great.

KING: Do you think Geithner should be confirmed?

PELOSI: Yes. I think he's very talented and he has the confidence of the president of the United States.

KING: Now, let's get to economics -- I guess the most important thing he's going to do right away.

PELOSI: Yes it will be.

KING: When are you going to have a stimulus package ready?

PELOSI: Today we're marking up in the Appropriations Committee -- we'll stay in as long as it takes to finish the work today.

The bill was introduced last week. It is being marked up in committee today. That means the Republicans and Democrats can have at it on their amendments or suggestions that they have.

And then next week, we will bring the bill to the floor. It will go to the Senate. And we will go to conference. That's very process- oriented.

We will have a bill before the Presidents Day recess or else there will be no Presidents Day recess.

KING: Which is mid -- mid-February?

PELOSI: Mid-February.

KING: Or there'll be no recess? PELOSI: Or there'll be no recess. But I'd rather have -- you know, we'll keep people in until we get a bill. But we must have a bill in February.

KING: Are you confident?

PELOSI: I'm confident. I'm confident.

He is -- he, the president, is open to every voice and every view. He's reaching out to the Republicans.

Of course, this bill will have his priorities in it. He is the president. He has made -- he's given a direction to the American people that he wants to take the country in. This bill does that.

In terms of addressing the downturn in our economy, it creates new jobs immediately. Four million new jobs will be created or saved by the bill. And it will be done in a way that stabilizes the economy, so it's building a foundation for future economic success.

KING: Madam Speaker, he seems inclined to let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010. You said you think they should be repealed for folks making more than $250,000...


KING: yesterday.

PELOSI: Well, no, no, no, no. First of all, that has nothing to do with this bill. That won't...

KING: I know.

PELOSI: That won't be in this recovery package. Right now we're talking about tax cuts for 95 percent of the American people, tax cuts for the middle class. And that will be in this legislation. We have tax cuts to create jobs. And such as...

KING: But do you have a disagreement?

PELOSI: Well, I don't know -- I don't know that he has stated that he's not going to repeal those tax cuts. That's -- that's a decision for another day. But it is a long-held view by many of us in the Congress on the Democratic side that campaigned in '04, '06 and '08 that, on the basis of the information we had from the Republican Congressional Budget Office, that the tax cuts were the biggest contributors to the deficit -- the biggest contributors to the deficit.

We can't afford -- we have to be fiscally sound as we go forward. We have to make some investments to grow our economy. We have to make some tax cuts which will inject demand into the economy and create jobs.

But those tax cuts at the high end have not been good for the economy and they have heaped mountains of debt onto future generations.

Think of it this way. Think of it as borrowing money from the Chinese to give a tax cut to the wealthiest people in America and send the bill to your children.

Now, I don't know what the figure is, if it's $250,000, if it's $300,000, whatever it is. But that -- that's a big impact on the deficit and -- but, again, that's a discussion for another day when we do tax simplification and fairness. Today, we're talking about growing the economy.

KING: But $850 billion...

PELOSI: Right -- no, our bill is $825 billion.

KING: Sorry.


PELOSI: Well, it's lower.

KING: Are you sure you're right?

Are you sure we're on the right track here?

Because if there are more mistakes, I mean...

PELOSI: Yes...

KING: ...could this country go under?

PELOSI: Well, I was very pleased today that we had a comment -- a report made by someone named Mark Zandi, who was the economic adviser to Senator John McCain in his presidential campaign. And he has said that this bill will produce or save four million jobs, that we'll reduce the unemployment rate by 2 percent by 2010 and that if we don't do this, all of the unemployment will -- will go up.

KING: You have to, then.

PELOSI: So that's even from the conservative side of the ledger.

I do know that more jobs are created by investments than by tax cuts. And the economists from right to left tell us that.

So we have diversity in the package. We're going -- rebuilding America in a new, green way -- innovation, investments in innovation to keep us number one internationally; innovation for health care to keep us healthier at a lower cost; and innovation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reverse climate change -- creating good- paying green jobs in America.

KING: So you are optimistic?

PELOSI: I'm optimistic. First of all...

KING: You look like you're on a high.

PELOSI:'s necessary -- I am on a high. I am very excited about the prospect of serving as speaker of the House with President Barack Obama because of the power of his ideas, the strategic thinking that he brings to it and the leadership that he provides to speak to the American people.


KING: We have another session coming up with the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

By the way, John McCain will be our guest tomorrow night.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back.

When I sat down with Speaker Pelosi this afternoon, I asked her about Caroline Kennedy. But that was before news broke that she's dropping her bid to become senator from New York.

And, meanwhile, President Bush's may be gone -- President Bush may be gone, but Speaker Pelosi is not finished with him yet. We talked about a proposal by House Judiciary Chair John Conyers for a commission to investigate the Bush administration's anti-terror policies and actions.



PELOSI: And I know that Mr. Conyers did an op-ed last week to that effect. I do think that there should be some review of some of the actions that may be criminal that occurred in the Bush administration. I don't know specifically the parameters of the investigation Mr. Conyers is talking about. I'm sure he will make that known to me.

KING: Apparently, it's not a criminal probe as such, but it could lead to that.


KING: Are you surprised that the president appears to be against that?

PELOSI: No. I think the president is taking exactly the right approach. His approach is he's about the future. He's going into the future using his energy, his intellectual resources and time to make the change that he promised to the American people -- again, with stability, with bipartisanship, with openness, with transparency and fiscal discipline.

And that's a big order. That's a tall order -- to restore our place -- our rightful place in the world. That's a tall order.

The -- the members of Congress have worked on these issues for a long time. And there are issues that are still out there from before. As a matter of fact, we have contempt of Congress charges against members of the Bush administration, which we've renewed in this new Congress, for withholding information from Congress.

KING: So that's outstanding.

PELOSI: And that's outstanding because that's important for the following reason.

We are -- our founders provided for three branches of government, not for a king who would just say I'll do whatever I want to do and don't ask me any questions and I'm not accountable to anyone. And that's basically what the basis of the contempt of Congress charges are.

So we have to take these things one at a time. I wouldn't do any sweeping throw out a net and see what we catch review. But I think that we should subject some of what happened in the Bush administration to some scrutiny.

KING: The president seems to be leaning out to conservatives, Republicans...


KING: ... Taking a kind of middle of the road stance.

Does that bother you as a liberal?



PELOSI: No, I'm thrilled. In fact, I wish that President Bush had done that. We wanted to act with him in a bipartisan way to find common ground to get results for the American people. So I salute that.

Most of us -- I can't speak for every single person, but I speak -- or I can speak for many -- came to Washington to do just that, to have a debate of ideas. This is the marketplace of ideas. That's what it was designed to be, not a rubberstamp for anyone -- not for a president, not for a speaker -- but to hear all views on both sides of the aisle.

Every American deserves to have his or her voice heard regardless of who is in the majority in Congress.

KING: Were you surprised the president -- the outgoing president issued no pardons?

PELOSI: He found -- I spoke -- we spoke to him about that yesterday at breakfast before we came to the Capitol. And he was very proud of that. That he said people who have gotten pardons are usually people who have influence or know friends in high places and it's not available to ordinary people. So he was very -- he was very proud of that. It was interesting to hear him talk about it.

KING: The first I've heard of that, really (ph), because for one of the people, his father wrote letters.

PELOSI: Well, you know...

KING: Which is extraordinary. I mean, your father.

PELOSI: I don't know about that situation. But I know that he was very clear -- you know, that -- I don't know what he would have done if he thought there was any real fairness in the system. But he thought that there was more access for some than others and he was not going to do any. He did commute part of a sentence of the two Customs ...

KING: Yes, the two Customs (INAUDIBLE).

PELOSI: But he did not issue any pardons.

KING: I have regards from you from someone who feels very close to you. I had lunch with him today -- no breakfast, the governor of New York.

PELOSI: Oh, David Paterson.

KING: Yes.

PELOSI: Isn't he wonderful?

KING: He was invited to your daughter's wedding.

PELOSI: He was in our daughter's wedding.

KING: He said he was very proud of it.

PELOSI: Yes, we were very proud of it. And he was the lieutenant governor at the time.

KING: That's right.

PELOSI: And we were thrilled, as a family friend, that he was there.

KING: So, do you think he should appoint Caroline Kennedy to the Senate?

PELOSI: One of my principles as speaker is not to get involved in state matters when it comes to who the governor will appoint. I have great respect for many of the candidates who are being considered and I know that David Paterson has good judgment. And we'll look forward to having that other vote -- I think he said by Saturday.

KING: Yes. PELOSI: We'll look forward to having another vote over on the Senate side.

New York is a great state. And all the dynamism in New York, I mean it should have -- although Chuck Schumer can speak for many, it's nice that they have the full complement of senators.

KING: You've seen a black inaugurated president of the United States, which I'm sure you wouldn't have bet 10 years ago you would have seen.

Will you see a woman?

PELOSI: Of course. Of course. And we've seen a woman, Hillary Clinton, show that a woman can get into that arena and debate the issues, have the stamina. It takes a lot of stamina -- and to do so with a great intellect and vision.

And I think that that campaign, Obama and Hillary Clinton -- and now one of them emerged -- has paved the way, that there will be a woman president.

In the meantime, we'll enjoy President Barack Obama, the first African-American. It's -- first of all, we're thrilled because he's so talented. He's a person of great vision, great intellect, great strategic thinking and great eloquence to give hope to the American people and to communicate with them. And he happens to be African- American. And that's pretty thrilling.

KING: And Congress has some clout in this administration. Two senators are president and vice president. A congressman is chief of staff. There are other key cabinet posts...

PELOSI: Rahm Emanuel. He's great.

KING: Yes.

Does that give you good feelings?

PELOSI: I have enormous respect for the judgment of Barack Obama. And so whether it's in his decisions or his personnel choices -- policy decisions or personnel choices, my attitude is to take his lead on them.

And, sure, I'm going to miss Rahm here. He was a very valued member of our leadership. But it's so exciting that he is the chief of staff to Barack Obama, president of the United States.

KING: Good seeing you, Nancy.

PELOSI: My pleasure.

Thank you.


KING: Bob Woodward and Tavis Smiley are coming back, when LARRY KING LIVE returns.


KING: We're back with Bob Woodward and Tavis Smiley.

Your reaction to the speaker?

WOODWARD: Well, what's so interesting about that, she has fallen in line. And we -- we write about the -- and we think about the awesome power of the president and the presidency -- all of that concentration of power.

She just said whatever he wants, we're going to do. We're in line. And there was -- one of the really important things that happened today, because this is Obama's first day as president, is a little film clip of it, where Obama and Biden were swearing in the White House staff.

And Joe Biden, the vice president, made a joke about how Chief Justice Roberts had screwed up.

KING: Right.

WOODWARD: And you could see Obama kind of touch him -- touch Biden. And it was just total ice on his face.

KING: Speaking of that, President Obama was sworn in a second time by Justice Roberts tonight. It happened at the White House a short time ago.

Let's take a look.


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...

OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...

ROBERTS: That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.

OBAMA: That I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States.

ROBERTS: And will, to be 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 me god. OBAMA: So help me god.

ROBERTS: Congratulations again.

OBAMA: Thank you, sir.


OBAMA: All right.


KING: All right, Tavis, back to you. We discussed that already.

So what did you think of the Speaker?

SMILEY: The first thing, very quickly, Larry, on the chief justice.

If the chief justice can make a mistake in life and get a second chance to get it right, hopefully the cases in the coming months and years that they oversee...

KING: Yes...

SMILEY: ...they'll keep that in mind about people having a chance to get it right the second time.

But I digress on that issue.

Back to your question about the Speaker. I thought about two things.

First of all, Larry, a good conversation with her.

I thought two things as I watched the conversation.

Number one -- and Bob sort of -- I want to echo a little bit of what Bob Woodward suggested a moment ago. The Democrats control the White House, the Senate and the House. To the American public, there will be no excuse -- no excuses for not getting an agenda passed that makes the quality of life better for all Americans, particularly if they're going to fall in line that way.

No excuses when you control every branch of government, basically, that's connected to at least passing legislation. That's number one.

The second thought I had, Larry, watching that conversation, was just since you talked about the economy, the Democrats have got to get this right. There is absolutely no excuse. It is shameful -- it is, quite frankly, disgraceful -- that the first half of this $700 billion bailout money -- $350 billion out so far -- and none of it has trickled down, pardon the expression, to everyday people.

It is shameful that the banks that have taken this money have used that money...

KING: Yes.

SMILEY: invest it, to acquire other properties, to pay down their debt. But they're not loaning it to everyday people. This money has not gotten down yet to the weak, working class.

The Democrats, if they have a spine, ought to take that issue on. And the second half of this money that they now control -- that Mr. Bush is out of town...

KING: All right...

SMILEY: ...they ought to make sure that money gets to everyday people.

KING: Bob?

WOODWARD: What's also interesting here, there's been no accounting of that money. Tavis is right, it's just gone to the banks and these institutions which needed it to prop up their balance sheets. And it's not at all clear that the banks on Wall Street, they talk about a second wave of problems coming. So this a serious issue.

KING: Could this become his recession?

WOODWARD: Well, no, it's already started. Tavis is right, there's an expectation you've got to get it right. Now I think people don't know the facts. I think Obama in his inaugural address didn't go into specifics about the economic remedies. Because they realize they have a mammoth problem here. They have to assemble the facts. And I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't some false starts in trying to fix all this. I don't think it's going to happen the first time.

KING: Back with more with Woodward and Smiley right after this. Don't go away.


KING: Tavis Smiley, what do you make of the cabinet?

SMILEY: I think he's done a relatively good job of putting people around him that have the kind of expertise that can help him advance the causes that he cares about. I've been on record saying already, Larry, that I am concerned about some of the Clintonistas around him. I only raise that because I think there's a distinct difference between revisionist and visionary.

I hope that we really are going to get the kind of change we were promised we were going to get, because if you go back just to what we had, as opposed to advancing the cause of America, moving us further down the road, giving us real change -- The Clinton years were OK. But I think the American people have bought into a philosophy now, a belief that we can do better.

Let's not just be revisionist. Let's be visionary and step boldly into this moment. We'll see if that happens.

KING: Bob, what do you make of this?

WOODWARD: Well, I think he's got some people out there that he's not -- he doesn't know that well. Hillary Clinton, they campaigned against each other. She's going to be secretary of state now. She was confirmed and sworn in today.

One of the headlines from the inauguration speech -- I hate to go back to that, but that's kind of the blueprint -- is Obama saying, if you unclench your fist, meaning countries like Iran and so forth, we will extend our hand. That is a major commitment to active diplomacy. And one of the themes here is going to be how does Hillary do as a diplomat? Will she go out? Will she be given the authority to go to the Middle East, to deal with the Iranians, the North Koreans and so forth? We'll see.

KING: Tavis, you think Mr. Geithner will be confirmed?

SMILEY: I think ultimately he will. I think there is a bit of a double standard, given how some past nominees have been treated certainly on the immigration issue and the person who worked for him. I think it is interesting to a lot of Americans that the person in charge of the Treasury, over-seeing the IRS, couldn't figure out how to pay his own taxes. These are legitimate issues, not casting aspersion on him.

I think in the end, given the signals that many Republicans have already sent up, he ultimately will in fact be confirmed.

WOODWARD: I'd like to meet someone who has ever figured out how to pay their taxes. Anytime somebody comes and looks at one tax return and they send it to ten preparers or ten experts, they all come up all with different answers.

KING: They don't take his taxes out, right, he's supposed to pay it quarterly or --

WOODWARD: Right. This is a mistake and a serious mistake. What interests me just thematically is he's acknowledged it. He's apologized. He's really grovelled. And let everyone stand up who's never made a mistake.

KING: But he's a wizard of finance, right?

WOODWARD: Yes, but -- I mean, I don't know what -- do you -- how much do you know about your own tax, Larry?

KING: Nothing.

WOODWARD: You don't even sign it, you have a stamp.

KING: I sign it.

WOODWARD: I tell you, taxes are the most confusing thing. And you can think you're doing it right. I have one of the great accountants, who I think secretly works for the IRS, because he smiles every time -- oh, we found this. You know, we were going to ask to pay this and that. So, I mean, as a citizen, I have some sympathy.

KING: Another break. I want to see what you're saying about this show. Stick around. Your blog comments are coming.


KING: Let's check with David Theall. What's happening on the blogs, David?

DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Hey Larry. If given the opportunity, what would you put on the president's to-do list? That's what we've been asking people who drop by the blog. We've been having a lot of fun for the last couple of days during the inauguration.

We did ask people to fill out President Obama's to-do list. Now, we put the intern Garrett to counting up the responses that we got. Thus, were we let our bloggers do the president's to-do list, it would something look like something like this, Larry.

Number one would be to do today, fix the economy. Number two, end the war in Iraq. Number three, concentrate on foreign policy and the Middle East.

Now, Larry, we also heard from some people who had other things that they would put on the president's to-do list, people like Reginald, who said, if he could put something on the to-do list, he would say, "insist that the SEC clean up music on the radio."

Diana said she would say simply "fix everything."

David said, were he to put something on the to-do list, his would be one thing, "resign."

And we also heard from Wilda, Larry, who said that she would put this on the president's to-do list, "let your hair grow just a little longer," she says, "so your ears will not appear so prominent."

We're going to continue the conversation, as we always do, throughout the night, Look for the blog link, click it, jump into the conversation. We look forward to seeing you.

KING: Thanks, David, as always, on top of things. Tavis, you've got this American I am, the American African Imprint Exhibit. It's now at Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center. What is it?

SMILEY: America I Am, the African-American Imprint is the most comprehensive exhibit ever, Larry, that tell the story of the African- American contribution to the country. We celebrate this moment of Barack Obama. I want him to be a great president. I believe he will be.

But there's a 400-year journey that makes this moment possible, 400 years of getting to this point, since the Africans first arrived at Jamestown. It's an American story. We know the story of America through the eyes of the immigrants coming to Ellis Island. There is another story. This exhibit celebrates the contributions that African-Americans have made to this country.

The great black intellectual Dubois once asked this country, Larry, would America have been America without her Negro people? So over 300 items, 12 gallery, four theaters, 15,000 square feet, now at the National Constitution Center, through May the 3rd. You can see firsthand, up close, all of these items that really tell the story of the African-American constitution to this great country. It will start traveling after that. But at the moment, it's at the National Constitution Center. Thanks for letting me mention that.

KING: Bob, my -- in that regard, my younger son Cannon, he is eight. And he now says that he would like to be black. I'm not kidding. He said there's a lot of advantages. Black is in. Is this a turning of the tide?

WOODWARD: Well, maybe. My 12-year-old daughter, Diana, after listening to the inaugural address said that the part I like the most is where he said, get up off the floor, dust yourself off and go back to work, because she's heard that around the house a good deal.

The other thing she tuned into was -- because Obama was very critical of Bush and just said, you know, we're going to -- once again, we're going to lead and so forth. And she picked up on this. And said, ooh, you know, he's sitting there. You know, she was quite aware of the emotional impact it must have on Bush.

And to Bush's credit, he hugged Obama. He took it, hasn't, you know, made any cheap shots, and, you know, has gone back to Texas like a good Texan.

KING: You two are a great team. We're going to have you back together a lot. Bob Woodward and Tavis Smiley. Coming up later, a pint-sized reporter with big ambitions. This kid is tough. He even grilled Woodward and Bernstein. Take a look.


DAMON WEAVER, CHILD JOURNALIST: Hi, I'm with Bob and Carl. I keep on hearing that you guys have something to do with Watergate. What is that?


KING: That kid will be here. But next is Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, a witness to history. Back in 60 seconds.


KING: We're back. We're going now to the Royal Suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. Joining us is Aretha Franklin, the legendary singer, songwriter, musician, the queen of soul. She sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at the inaugural yesterday. Let's take a quick look.


KING: Nobody does it like Aretha. Before we ask you anything else, Aretha, where'd you get that hat?

ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER: Well, I bought it at a little millinery that I frequent out in Detroit.

KING: It was adorable and different.

FRANKLIN: Thank you. I loved it. I loved it.

KING: What was -- what was that like for you yesterday?

FRANKLIN: Oh. What a tremendous, mammoth morning, evening, the ball, everything, from one event to the other was just too much. Too much.

KING: How did you find out you were singing?

FRANKLIN: How did I find out I was singing? My agent called me and he told me that he had received an invitation and a telephone call, asking for my presence and performance at the swearing-in and the inauguration.

KING: Did you choose the song?

FRANKLIN: Yes, I did.

KING: Is that a tough song to sing?

FRANKLIN: No, not at all. But yesterday it was.

KING: Because?

FRANKLIN: Mainly because of the temperature outside. I don't have to tell you, it was freezing, if you were there.

KING: You're not kidding.

FRANKLIN: And some singers it doesn't bother, and others it does. I don't care for it. It definitely is going to -- it affected my voice.

KING: We'll be right back --

FRANKLIN: Definitely, that was not -- huh?

KING: Hold on, we're going to take a break, come right back. We'll be back with the queen of soul right after this.



KING: Back with Aretha Franklin. You sang at Martin Luther King's funeral, did you not? FRANKLIN: Yes, I did.

KING: What do you remember about that?

FRANKLIN: That there were very, very long lines, of course. I recall walking in the street behind the bier, somewhere maybe about 300 feet -- 200, 300 feet from the bier, I think. I recall Leontyne Price being there, as well as Eartha Kitt. They shuttled us from one point to the other. And that the passing of a great man was at hand.

KING: How did you feel yesterday about seeing a young black man elected president?

FRANKLIN: Oh boy, how do you put it into words? There's a love affair going on with the country and Barack. I think it's the age of Barack. People have just fallen head over heels in love with him. His assent to the presidency was miraculous. But we have to remember that he's not a -- he's not going to work miracles right off the top. It's going to take time.

A lot of problems and there's a plethora of things to deal with for he and his administration.

KING: One thing, with you magnificent voice, is it hard to sing out doors?

FRANKLIN: It depends on the temperature. Yesterday, mother nature was not very kind to me. I'm going to deal with her when I get home. IT by no means was my standard. I was not happy with it. But I just feel blessed, because it could have been five above zero or five below zero like it is in Detroit. I was still blessed to be able to pretty much just sing the melody. But I wasn't happy with it, of course.

KING: It was great to listen to.

FRANKLIN: But I was delighted and thrilled to be there. That was the most important thing, not so much performance, but just to be there and to see this great man go into office. The promise, the promise of tomorrow coming to pass.

KING: Thank you. The great Aretha Franklin.

Mr. President, look out, there's a reporter who is after an interview with you. He's not giving up until he gets it. We'll meet the ten year old journalist when we come back.


WEAVER: Hi, I'm Damon Weaver and I'm here at Root Ball.

Hi, I'm here with Spike Lee. He's the director. Who did you vote for?

SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR: I voted for Barack Obama.

WEAVER: Don't you make more than 250,000 dollars a year?

JACKSON: Yes, I do, and my taxes will go up.

OPRAH WINFREY, "OPRAH": Let me interview you. You tell me. So what do you think of this whole -- is this your first inaugural?

WEAVER: Yes, this is my first inaugural.


KING: OK. We've got him. Here he is. Big story at the inaugural this week, Damon Weaver, the 10-year-old Florida fifth grader. He's a young journalist, came to cover the inauguration. Hopes to get an interview with the president. I bet he will. How did this all come about? How did you get to come here?

WEAVER: Well, as soon as I interviewed Joe Biden, I thought that I should get an interview with Barack Obama. So I have been following him around in his campaign.

KING: Oh, but who sent you here?

WEAVER: My school.

KING: Your school picked you?

WEAVER: Yes, to create a report for my school. Actually, Mr. Zimmerman picked me.

KING: Mr. Zimmerman, your teacher.


KING: That's pretty good for a fifth grader to be out covering things. Have you enjoyed this?

WEAVER: Yes, I enjoy myself, but --

KING: But?

WEAVER: It's been cold.

KING: Ah, me too. I live in California. You live in Florida. You go nuts here. Too cold. When do you go home?

WEAVER: Sunday.

KING: Are you still hoping to get with Obama?

WEAVER: Yes, I am still dreaming about that.

KING: What -- do you want to be a journalist?

WEAVER: Yes. I want to be a journalist and a football player.

KING: Both? You can be a football player and a journalist. You could have a football career and then be a journalist.

WEAVER: I already got it planned. I can play in a football game and after that cover the press conference.

KING: Correct. You can do both. You can have it both ways. You crossed paths with Oprah.


KING: At the Root Inaugural Ball on Sunday. Let's watch.


WEAVER: What is it like working in the famous talk show business?

WINFREY: Well, I've been doing it for a very long time.

WEAVER: Do you like doing it?

WINFREY: Do I like doing it? Yes. I could not have done it for as long as I continue to do it if I didn't like it. I really love it. I love being able to talk to the people. And, you know, usually I'm the one holding the microphone.


KING: Did you enjoy that?

WEAVER: Yes, I enjoyed it very much.

KING: When you interviewed Joe Biden, we noticed that you were holding the microphone up to him.


KING: But the hand kept going down. Were you tired?


KING: Was the hand tired?

WEAVER: No, it wasn't the hand. It was the arm.

KING: Good point. Had to be the arm.

WEAVER: After the interview, I found that I had a cramp in my arm.

KING: Are your parents here with you?


KING: What does your dad do?

WEAVER: I don't know. KING: He doesn't live with you?


KING: Is your mom here with you?


KING: Do you have brothers and sisters?

WEAVER: No -- yes, I have brothers and sisters.

KING: You forgot them already. You're a big star. You forgot brothers and sisters?


KING: That happens in this business.

WEAVER: Never forget family.

KING: You get Oprah. You get Obama, right? It's your goal. You're going to make it, kid. You're going to have this seat some day, after your football career. Damon Weaver from Florida.

Before we go, we have got an exclusive web for you. What are you looking at? What did I do?

WEAVER: Pohokie, Florida.

KING: Pohokie, Florida, but it's near Bell Glade.


KING: The web exclusive, my interview with one of the best PR men in Hollywood, Howard Bragman. We talk about his new book "Where's My 15 Minutes" and he delivers the goods with all kinds of celebrity scoops. You can get it now at, along with our blog and other features.

Senator John McCain tomorrow. Send him an email at Now Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."