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Interviews from Obama Inaugural Week

Aired January 24, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the week that was in Washington. President Barack Obama's Inauguration brought millions of Americans to the Capitol, including Sean Combs, Aretha Franklin,, and everyday citizens who just wanted to be here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really an historic moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not believe that this would happen in my lifetime.


KING: We look back at it all in a star-studded LARRY KING LIVE starting right now.

Thanks for joining us. It has been an amazing time to be in the nation's capital. Tonight, the best guest, acts, and reflections from this historic week. We start with a conversation I really enjoyed, Seal, Sean Combs, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson were the guests. It was Monday, just hours before Barack Obama became our 44th president.


KING: Well, it has finally come, Sean. How do you feel?

SEAN COMBS, MUSICIAN: Oh, it's really hard to describe in words. You know, it's such a proud moment. I'm so happy that the world gets to see that this is truly what America is, what America is about.

I've never seen an Inauguration that has been so well represented, from a multicultural standpoint. What you're seeing on your television sets is what America is about, people of all colors and creeds together celebrating the greatness of who we are.

And as an African-American, this is like the proudest day of my life, to be able to see the first family that represents us -- represents all of us, but truly represents us, as African-Americans, be sworn in tomorrow.

KING: What's it like for you, Seal, as a non-American?

SEAL, SINGER: Well, it's -- the only word I can think of, Larry, is magical. You know, I've lived here for 20 years. You're right, I'm not American, but I do have three American children. So I have a vested interest in the future of this country.

And I think that one of the most amazing things, to me, about the whole historical event is the resounding effects that it had -- that it is having on the rest of the world.

I was in France and England the day that the results came through. And people were just rejoicing when they heard that he had won the election. And I think that was -- that was always one of the big issues, wasn't it?

It was -- you know, there were two problems that were facing America. There were the internal problems, such as the economy; you know health care -- insufficient health care, et cetera. And then there was the external problem, which was the popularity of America...

KING: Yes.

SEAL: know, as being the leader of the free world. And I think over the last sort of eight or so years, that popularity had been somewhat damaged. But it was certainly restored when the rest of the world saw just how great this country is (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Are you going to be a citizen?

SEAL: Am I what?

KING: Going to be a citizen?

SEAL: Am I going to be a citizen? Well, my wife is a citizen. And I have three American children. And one of us is a citizen. I think that's -- that's a good thing.

KING: We're just the colonies to you, then?

SEAL: Well, no, no, you're not.


SEAL: You are not the colonies at all, Larry.

KING: Kevin, how do you explain this, a generally unknown guy, draws 200,000 people in Germany? Seal just describes the reaction in France and Britain. How do you explain that?

MAYOR KEVIN JOHNSON (D), SACRAMENTO: He has a charisma. He has something that somehow has ignited and struck a chord, not just with Americans, but in people across this country.

People are so disillusioned and cynical about government and politicians. You get this guy with a funny name who comes out of nowhere and he has captured the imagination of people all over this world. Truly amazing. And it's a true testament to who he is.

KING: Sean, do you think it gives him two balls and no strikes? Is he ahead of the game? COMBS: I think that -- that one of the reasons why everybody is so receptive to him is that we feel like he's telling the truth. I mean, it feels honest. For so many years, it feels like we've -- there's something that somebody's not telling us.

And I think the thing that, you know, gives him -- you know, the thing that makes him special, that -- the way he connects with us, because he's telling the truth. He feels like the truth.

KING: According to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, Seal, 69 percent of blacks say the United States has fulfilled Dr. King's dream. Forty-six percent of whites think they have fulfilled the dream.

Do you think the dream is fulfilled?

SEAL: Well, I think President Obama is the typical -- the quintessential example of the American dream. I don't necessarily think it's an exclusive -- it's a black dream or a white dream. I think it's -- he embodies the very strength of -- of this country.

Just to go back on what Sean was saying earlier, you know, he has really struck a chord, because I think that, for the first time, along has come someone who is able to really read and assess the situation -- the climate in this country.

You know, there's that old saying that people can't handle the truth. Well, I think that his greatest strength, and his campaign strength, is that they were able to assess the climate in that America was ready for the truth.

And he came out straight-talking. And that had a resounding effect with people, particularly the young people. And so he is really kind of -- I think he's the symbol of the quintessential American dream.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't describe the moment. It's breathtaking right now. I'm so very overwhelmed. I'm so excited. I feel like I can conquer the world. I've never been so proud to be an American right now. So I'm trying to fight back tears right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know our ancestors are turning over in their graves, jumping and shouting in heaven because so many people died for this day to happen. For all of my family and my grandparents and my great grandparents who helped build this country, for all of us to be as one people, black, white, Jewish, brown, for Martin, for Malcolm, for Harriett, for Sojourner, I say praise God and thank you. And I hope that this day stays in the minds of all people to know that we come together in love, we can do anything.



KING: January 19th we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. It's a day that means many things to many people. On Monday's show, I reflected back on what it meant to me.


KING: Did you think you'd see an African-American elected president in your lifetime?

I've asked a lot of people that question since November 4th. Some, especially the kids, told me, absolutely. Some said simply, I hoped. And some answered flat out, no, I never expected to live to see that day. A few choked up and I knew that they were remembering.


KING (voice-over): April 15th, 1947, Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, Jackie Robinson breaks Major League's baseball color barrier, playing for the Dodgers. I was 13 and I was there.

I later interviewed Jackie Robinson three times, a great athlete, an even greater man. But on that historic day, while I believed in equality on the ball field, the idea of a black man in the White House never entered my mind.

I went to Florida in the '50s to break into broadcasting. At the train station in Miami, I saw separate water fountains. Never saw that before. I drank from the one marked "colored."

The bus into town had a sign: "Negroes in the back." I sat in the back.

As the '50s became the '60s, I interviewed every major leader in the civil rights movement, including a young preacher named Martin Luther King, Jr. I was with him once when he tried to integrate a motel in Tallahassee, Florida.

"What do you want?," the manager demanded?

"My dignity," said Dr. King.

August 28th, 1963, Dr. King shared his hopes for the future from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

KING: But did he really dream in his heart of hearts that America would elect a black president less than five decades later?

I remember LBJ signing the Voting Rights Act in 1965. I remember Watts erupting in riots less than a week later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are fires, little clouds of smoke. I can count, offhand, 26.

KING: Hate and racial hostility consuming hope.

1968, the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- blood, burning.

For some that I interviewed, it seemed the dream was in ashes. For others: Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Muhammad Ali, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis, Jr., the dream survived, but in different forms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States of America, the Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson.

KING: In the 1980s, I watched Jesse Jackson's political bid change the political landscape.

REV. JESSE JACKSON (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must all come up together. We must come up together.

KING: As the country moved into the 21st Century, black men did sit in the Oval Office.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cue the president.



KING: But only in movies and on TV.

And then came July 27th, 2004. I was on the convention floor in Boston when an obscure politician from Illinois keynoted his way into history.

Who is this guy?

His speech gave me some clues.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, THEN-ILLINOIS STATE SENATOR: There is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America.


KING: I got more from his campaign.

OBAMA: We know in our hearts we are ready for change. We are ready to come together. And in this election, we are ready to believe again.

KING: The ultimate answer came November 4th. Barack Obama is the man the American people have elected as their 44th president. I've lived to witness it.

(on camera): And tomorrow, I'll be here, in our nation's capital, to see him sworn in. Appropriately joining us on this day, celebrating his father's life, is Martin Luther King, III.

How do you feel?

MARTIN LUTHER KING, III, SON OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: Well, I mean, great jubilation, great pride. Perhaps most of all, I feel tremendously blessed to have been able to be with the president-elect this morning, as we engaged in a service project.

KING: How old were you when your dad died?

MARTIN LUTHER KING III: Ten years old, the precious age of 10. I sometimes remember some of the activity around that time. Every year, of course, in April when I see pictures, as I've seen this evening, an incredible tribute to him.

KING: Yes. Did you ever think this would happen, what's going to happen tomorrow, honestly?


KING: You really did?

MARTIN LUTHER KING III: Oh, yes. And I knew that in my lifetime I'd see a black president. What I did not remember -- I saw an earlier clip on ABC, that my father said that within 40 years -- on BBC, he was on BBC, that a Negro may be president -- could be -- achieve the level of president. He said 40 years, maybe 25 years.

But I was -- I had already stated that I knew that if my father were in our midst, he would say, oh, yes, this definitely can happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm glad that I got the opportunity to experience this with my mother and my aunt. They are the generation of Dr. King. And I will begin the generation of President Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can remember when my parents marched for the civil rights. I can remember when we wasn't allowed to sit in the restaurants and my mother and my father are too old to attend now. So my sisters and I took it upon ourselves to take on the baton and take the second half of what they started.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The audacity of hope is not impossible. We can do all things and the sky is the limit. And through him, he gave new hope to me, my community, this whole entire nation. And so congratulations, Barack Hussein Obama.




KING: He's a legendary entertainer, Stevie Wonder is. He performed at today's concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

What was that like today? STEVIE WONDER, MUSICIAN: You know, it was one of those days that you experience and you say, wow, this is one that you will never forget. It's almost like when you walk for the first time or you go to school for the first time, or you read a book for the first time, or you have your first child or...

KING: Yes.

WONDER: ... you have a son that's born the same day as you. You know, you experience working for something and ultimately, it becomes a reality. It's the King Holiday, and here we are, having the celebration that's -- the day of Inaugural celebration, and Barack Obama.

KING: Did you ever, ever think in your lifetime you would experience a black president?

WONDER: Without question, I did.

KING: You did?

WONDER: Definitely.

KING: Wow.

WONDER: Because, you see, let me tell you why -- first of all, you know, I see the world very optimistically. And I think that I see the better of people than the worst. And I think that I have confidence far more in America than those who don't. We have to move forward in order to be a great country.

And I have always said throughout my career and, you know, throughout the last few years of my working on the road and stuff, I've been saying, we must become a united people of the United States.

And I just believe that, and I know without question that President- elect Barack Obama is a man who has that kind of spirit, reminiscent there of King and Kennedy, and the best of some of the greater leaders in our country.

KING: What does this Inauguration mean for you?

WONDER: It means a chance for America to pull together. You know, I think the success of this that has happened for the predominance of American people says, OK, we have made our decision, our decision, our goal, and our goal has been met.

Now, I think, is where the work begins. The real commitment to making it not just that slogan of "We are one" for just now, but we have to really become one -- truly. We have to move to do things to help each other on every single level. And, you know, for the God that I serve, tells me impossible is unacceptable. Impossible isn't acceptable.

So, I think that if we can come together as I believe he has brought, you know, various people of various parties together, to make this thing happen, we can have an incredible United States of America again.



KING: I used to live in Washington. I love coming back here. I hate the cold, but I love coming back. And when I do, there's nothing more fun than hitting the town and visiting some D.C. institutions.


KING: We're with the group that owns this incredible place, which is jam-packed.

Is it always like this?


KING: You are?

NIZAM ALI, CO-OWNER, BEN'S CHILI BOWL: Nizam, I'm the youngest son in the family.

KING: Great name.

N. ALI: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Sonya (ph) Ali, daughter-in-law.

KING: Of Ali?



KING: How did you come to own this place?

K. ALI: Our mom and dad started this place in 1958, 50 years ago, Larry. It was a hit right away, back when this was Black Broadway, when U Street was fabulous, before the riots of '68, of course.

KING: How do you feel about this election and all that's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very excited, very excited to be a part of it. And it was an honor to meet him last Saturday, having him here.

KING: He came here, right?


OBAMA: How come he has got shredded cheese on his and I don't have any on mine?

KING: Did he enjoy it? Did Obama...

K. ALI: Oh, yes, oh, yes, he loved it, he loved it.

KING: How good is the chili? It supposed to be great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As great as it was back in 1958.

KING: How do you feel about the Obama election?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it's great. It's really an historic moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not believe that this would happen in my lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I saw the people who voted for him, the different states, where he had so many white people that didn't desire a black man like that to be president of the United States, what a blessing. Not only black people, white people, all people.

KING: Did you ever think you'd see a black president?

K. ALI: Certainly not, Larry. Certainly not. At least -- maybe my kids. Maybe I had hope that my kids would see one, but I didn't think I would see one, at least this early.

KING: Come to Washington. It's Ben's Chili Bowl.

We're with Andy and this is his place, Busboys and Poets.

Explain this place to me.

ANDY SHALLAL, OWNER, BUSBOYS AND POETS: We wanted to make sure that the space we opened was actually going to speak to the community specifically and honor its past. This is the epicenter of the civil rights movement here. We're at 14th and B.

KING: It started here in Washington?

SHALLAL: It did. It did.

KING: I mean, in the Washington area.

And Langston Hughes, this is a tribute to him?

SHALLAL: It is. Langston Hughes lived here in Washington and worked as a busboy.

This has become the unofficial sort of gathering place for the Obama campaign, in a sense. When he first announced his run, we had an overflow capacity in this place to hear his announcement.

OBAMA: I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.

KING: As someone who became a citizen, what does this day mean to you?

VEDAT, BORN IN KOSOVO: To you a Democrat like Obama, somebody you could be so excited about, is a phenomenon.

KING: Are you a couple?


ALEX, D.C. RESIDENT: We're married. We've been together for 10 years.

KING: Would you have ever guessed there would be, before you had your first child, a black president?

LANORA: Never in a million years.

ALEX: Our baby is going to come into the world and it's going to be a black president.

KING: Are there any drawbacks to it? Do you think there's maybe so much pressure?

TALI, BORN IN HAITI: I think right now the state of the country requires the pressure.

KING: There's just a few days before the Inaugural. Supposing it's as cold as it is today.

ANTONIO, GRADUATE STUDENT: It doesn't matter. It's worth it.




KING: A great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE maybe our most frequent guest in history, Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona. If I have to tell you who he is, you're on another planet.

What was Inauguration Day like for you?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it was a time of celebration and an historic moment for all the reasons that we've talked about over and over again.

I thought the president's speech was excellent. I thought it was a moment where Americans obviously feel a coming together. You look out on the Mall and see, what, 2 million or whatever it was, and it's obviously an unforgettable sight and...

KING: Was there some pain, though? I mean, you know, do you ever say -- you had to say to yourself, it could have been me.

MCCAIN: Well, I think I do from time to time, Larry. But the easiest thing I've found is to feel sorry for yourself. I enjoy it enormously. But with...


MCCAIN: With the challenges that the country faces now, two wars, all of the other national security challenges and then the economy, I think this president faces greater challenges than perhaps -- you know, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to the presidency, it was economic challenges. We clearly faced the rise of Hitler and fascism. But early on, it was mainly domestic issues. And this president...

KING: There wasn't a war.

MCCAIN: Yes. This president faces the domestic challenges and the national security challenges. So he has got a big job. And all of us, I think, have to commit to working with him, disagreeing where necessary, but cooperating as much as possible.

That's what the Americans want us to do, too, by the way.


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

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


KING: The retaking of the oath, what do you make of that?

MCCAIN: I think, you know, it's just one of those things that's -- that happened -- that has happened. But it's a one-hour story.


KING: Yes. Maybe a half hour.

Guantanamo. The president signed today they're going to close it within a year, change the way prisoners are treated. And I know you've been strong on torture.

What do you think of the closing?

MCCAIN: I think that it's a wise move. But I also think that we should have addressed this whole issue completely because it did not address the issue of those who we have in custody and can't -- and no country will take them back.

We should have addressed the issue of those who we know would pose a threat to the United States, but we don't have sufficient evidence to move forward.

We should have, in my view, continued these military commissions, which were finally -- after years of delay and obfuscation, we were moving forward with the military commissions with some of these trials.

So the easy part, in all due respect, is to say, we're going to close Guantanamo. Then we -- I think I would have said where they were going to be taken. Because you're going to run into a NIMBY problem here in the United States of America, nobody -- doesn't want them in their state.

KING: But maybe he doesn't know.

MCCAIN: Well, I would have made those decisions ...

KING: Already?

MCCAIN: ...and presented them or waited and then -- and made the decisions and presented them as an entire package.

KING: So he didn't have to announce it today, is what you're saying?

MCCAIN: I don't think so because the questions now that are unanswered, those that I just articulated to you, are going to have to be answered. And he has imposed a time frame here that -- these are going to be very difficult.

KING: How do you like...

MCCAIN: But we'll work with him. We'll work with him.

KING: He honored you at a dinner the other night in your honor?


KING: He -- what do you make of...

MCCAIN: It was very generous.

KING: What do you make of him apparently going to be calling on you?

MCCAIN: Well, again, these are difficult times. And whatever way I can assist and work with the president of the United States, I want to do it. I mean, you look at the...

KING: Are you...

MCCAIN: And again, the American people are tired of the bitter partisanship. There will be open and honest disagreements that the president and I have. And -- but I hope that there are areas where -- I know there are areas where we can all work together.

The American people are demanding it and they deserve it and they haven't been getting it.

KING: Are you surprised at the openness to you?

MCCAIN: No. I think the president and I established a relationship of respect both in the Senate and during the campaign. There were rough times in the campaign. You know, you've observed so many of them.

But at the same time, I think underlying the whole campaign was an environment of respect, which then allows you to -- to come together and work for the good of the country.

KING: Are you confident you're going to work this economic thing out?

MCCAIN: I don't know. What I've seen so far, it's is more of a spending package than a stimulus package. And I think we ought to cut the business tax cuts. We ought to -- I mean, the business taxes. We ought to cut them. We ought to, I think, maybe cut or eliminate payroll taxes for a while and let general revenues pick that up.

I think we should spend the money that we can immediately, but at the same time, if we have a couple of quarters of positive GDP growth, then let's start reducing and eliminating the huge, massive, unprecedented deficits that are going to accrue from these actions.

I worry about the long-term deficits that -- and their impact they could have on the dollar, on our economy and on our children's futures.

KING: So you can't say you're confident?

MCCAIN: Well, it's going through the House, as you know. And the Senate is just beginning its considerations. I hope we can work together to, frankly, be a real stimulus package and not just a spending package that has every cat and dog that -- you know, and pet project that people have.

Because the object of a stimulus package is to stimulate the economy, not to just spend more and run up the debt to our kids and our grandkids.

KING: More with John McCain right after this.




KING: We're back with John McCain, the senator from Arizona.

What do you make of Sarah Palin, your running mate, apparently making -- not apparently, making critical statements about the campaign?

MCCAIN: Listen, I think the world of Governor Palin and her husband Todd, her family. I'm honored that she would run with me. And there's -- look, whenever there's a losing campaign, there's always a little bit of back and forth that happens post-mortem. Look, I'm so grateful to have her as a friend and I believe that she represents a lot to the Republican Party in the future. I think she has a big role to play.

KING: Are you stung by the criticism?

MCCAIN: Oh -- I'm not ...


MCCAIN: Listen, no, we -- look, we were very close friends. And I talk to her all the time and look forward to seeing her, I think, in a week or so. We're very close.

KING: Did you bring it up to her, why are you criticizing?

MCCAIN: Oh, look at, these things always happen in campaigns. She has my respect and my affection and that's undying.

KING: Rush Limbaugh said, I believe yesterday ...


KING: ... about this current administration, "I hope he fails." What do you make of that?

MCCAIN: I can't really analyze Mr. Limbaugh's remarks, particularly since I don't know the context. I think most Americans want this president and this country to get out of this ditch we're in. And the economic challenge, which is greater than any time in your or my lifetime; the challenges we face being in two wars.

I think Americans want us to bring America back. And we have to. And if Mr. Limbaugh's remarks were in the context that...

KING: Well, I think he was saying...

MCCAIN: ... he doesn't agree with his philosophy...

KING: He doesn't want...

MCCAIN: ...I understand that.

KING: He doesn't want government to solve things. He wants private industry. Although, as someone said, private industry is the thing that got him into trouble in the first place.

MCCAIN: Well, what I hope is that we can have the kind of economic recovery that will restore business, free enterprise, et cetera. But I think we also know there has to be a definite upgrading of the oversight of our financial markets. I mean, it just has to be. We are back in regulatory bodies that were designed in the '30s and now we are in the 21st Century.

KING: You have no other course. You have to do this?

MCCAIN: Absolutely.

KING: It's strange to hope he fails.

MCCAIN: But we also believe that the free enterprise system and capitalism is still the way America should be. And that means it's still, to us, that the more we can give to free enterprise and capitalism and small businesspeople, the better off we are.

KING: A couple of other things. Are you -- have you really become friendly with the president?

MCCAIN: Sure. It -- you know...

KING: Because I know that you were -- in the Senate sometimes, you had your moments.

MCCAIN: But we worked together on a number of issues. Look, it's hard to say that you are friends with a president of the United States. I think that I had a good relationship with President Reagan. I think I had a good relationship with President Bush -- both President Bushes.

But, you know, what I believe is that I have established a relationship with the president, that we can work together. And I think that's about...


MCCAIN: ...what you expect in a relationship with the president of the United States.

KING: Oh, by the way, if she ran, Palin, you would support her?

MCCAIN: Well, look, I don't...

KING: Or you don't get involved in the primaries?

MCCAIN: Yes. I think it would be -- I don't know who's running, for one thing, because, for example, my friend Jon Kyl, my colleague from Arizona. So it would be improper...

KING: He might run.

MCCAIN: -- now, wait a minute. Jon would be astonished to hear that I said that.


MCCAIN: But he's a great leader in the Republicans in the Senate.

KING: Yes.

MCCAIN: But let me just say, I don't know who's running and all that, but I will always be grateful to Sarah Palin for her friendship and her strong principles and leadership. KING: Do you have bitterness? Do you carry any bitterness toward Vietnam?

MCCAIN: No. None. None. None. I want them to improve. I want them to eliminate the corruption that they have. And they're going through a tough economic time.

But, you know, the Vietnamese people have proven -- those who came here to the United States of America, about how wonderful a people they are.

KING: And how's your health?

MCCAIN: Excellent, my friend. Excellent. Excellent. I enjoy every day.

KING: You keep on keeping on.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Senator...

MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on again.

KING: Oh, always, for the nine thousandth time.


KING: Senator John McCain.




KING: No one can match the grace and style of Seal. Combine that with a classic, and you've got something special. Here's Seal with "A Change Is Gonna Come."





KING: 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/SONGWRITER: 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, just 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: 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: And then 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. And I think it's the age of Barack. People have just fallen head over heels in love with him. And 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 outdoors?

FRANKLIN: It depends on the temperature. And 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. So I was still blessed to be able to pretty much just sing the melody. But I wasn't happy with it, of course, I wasn't happy.

KING: Well, it was great to listen to. Thank you, Aretha.

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

KING: Thank you, dear. The great Aretha Franklin.






KING: Many of the pieces, acts, and interviews you've seen tonight are just a click away. All you do is going to And while you're there, you can check out our blog. We've got an exclusive commentary from Usher and "You Are There" accounts from some of the week's hottest parties.

Taking us home tonight, and the Agape Choir, with the appropriately titled "It's a New Day." Enjoy.