Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Obama Delivers Address to the Nation; Republican Response
Aired February 24, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The president of the United States speaking for almost 52 minutes, by my count, promising that the United States will rebuild, will recover. The United States of America, he says, will emerge stronger than before, also saying that the day of reckoning, as far as the economy is concerned, has arrived, the time to take charge of our future, the president says, is here -- the president of the United States outlining a very ambition agenda, not only to try to jump-start the economy, but, in the process, deal with long-term issues, especially energy, health care, and education, a very ambitious agenda that the president is determined to go forward with right away.
Anderson Cooper, this is a speech, the first speech that he's delivered before a joint session of the Congress. He's going to -- going to be shaking hands for a while, as he gets ready to leave the House of Representatives.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And right off the start, from -- perhaps responding to those who said he's been too negative in some of his rhetoric over the last couple weeks, he started by saying: "We will rebuild. We will recover. The U.S. will emerge stronger than ever before."
He also tried to strike kind of a populist tone, saying, this isn't about for a while as he gets ready to leave the House of Representatives.
Right off the start, from those who said he's been too negative, he started by saying we will rebuild, we will recover. The U.S. will emerge stronger than ever before. He tried to strike a populace tone saying this isn't about helping banks; it's about helping people -- again, an important speech from President Barack Obama, his first speech before a joint session of Congress like this.
John King, you have seen a lot of these speeches. Your thoughts.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just from the beginning, Anderson, how it looked told you this was change.
There was Nancy Pelosi over his shoulder, the speaker of the House, looking quite happy. He never looked so happy when George W. Bush was in that spot -- no Dick Cheney, Joe Biden instead.
Remember, a year ago, during Bush's last State of the Union, Senators Obama and Clinton were on the floor, and we were looking at the coolness between them, the tension between them in the middle of the primaries.
She was introduced tonight as a member of the Cabinet. So, the picture captures the change in Washington from year to year.
And, then, in the address, a very calculated political move by the president of the United States, to say: Yes, I have a mandate to deal with the economy. And guess what? Two issues that sent Bill Clinton and George W. Bush off the tracks, health care reform and energy, major change in energy policy, they're part of that issue.
He's trying to take two issues that have knocked other presidents off their wheels and off their agenda, and say, we have to deal with those as part of the urgent challenge. Many are saying, this president is trying to juggle too many balls at once. He realizes he has the attention, the goodwill and the political support of the American people right now.
He has decided to take that risk of taking many challenges at once and trying to move forward.
COOPER: David Gergen?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: (AUDIO GAP) something Wolf said, and that is, this was the most ambitious we have heard in this chamber in decades.
The first half of the speech was FDR fighting for the New Deal. And the second half was Lyndon Johnson fighting for the Great Society. And we have never seen those two presidents rolled together in quite this way before.
I mean, I think most people would have felt just trying to recover from this recession and stop don't flow of blood and get a recovery going would be enough for one president. He's saying, no, no, no, we're going to do health care reform this year.
COOPER: And -- and he's saying that they're going to cut the deficit in half by...
GERGEN: Do energy. We're going to do education. Thankfully, he's going to do national service. And we're going to cut the deficit.
COOPER: Can he do that all?
GERGEN: I think that's part of the drama of this presidency.
PAMELA GENTRY, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, BET: But I think it will keep people watching.
GERGEN: I think -- I think we're watching one of the greatest political dramas of all time.
GENTRY: Yes. And health care has got to be one of the toughest ones. I mean, Medicare is the second largest budget after defense. So, if he can pull this off, it would be remarkable.
COOPER: Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill.
Dana, what are you hearing?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really what we saw here that was really remarkable with regard to the reaction that Barack Obama got in this hall.
You know, last year, when he attended George Bush's State of the Union, he said afterwards he hoped that, in the future, that there was less of a partisan reaction. I think he got that, less of a partisan reaction. Certainly, there were many times where, you know, Republicans who obviously were sitting over here inside this chamber sat stone-cold and did not applaud, particularly when he talked about issues like his -- like his -- his stimulus package.
One interesting moment, Anderson, was when you saw the only three Republicans in Congress who voted for a stimulus package, when he talked about it, stand up and applaud, standing next to their fellow Republicans, who were not doing anything.
One other quick note here: technology, Anderson. You did see a lot of members of Congress using their BlackBerrys, actually doing something called Twittering. And I watched one Republican member sending messages, saying, at one point -- we saw later, saying at one point to his constituents, to people out there: Look, you know, I wish that he talked about war on the first page of this speech.
He also said to his constituents, as the president was speaking on his BlackBerry, saying that he also needed to work with this president.
COOPER: We're awaiting the Republican response from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Let's just try to listen in to some of -- of what the president is saying to some of these members of Congress.
OBAMA: I would love to -- I would love to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to help.
OBAMA: Well, let's -- let's get it going. We have got to get it done. I'm going to borrow your sharpie here for a second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all yours.
OBAMA: No, I have got one in my pocket.
OBAMA: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Roland Martin, David Gergen, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins.
Ed, what did you make of the speech? A lot of bipartisanship, seeming, in the hall.
ED ROLLINS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Listen, there were lots -- lots of promises made. This was like a Huey Long speech in Louisiana, and no disrespect to the president.
The problem was, there are no details. We're going to get comprehensive health care. We're going to fix education. We're going to give more money for the troops, all admirable things. And we're going to cut the deficit in half in four years.
We have to wait...
COOPER: And I think curing cancer was in there somewhere.
ROLLINS: Curing cancer, energy independence, going to solve Pakistan's problems.
They're all great ambitions. If there were nothing else on the agenda, like a recession, all the rest of it, it would be very admirable. But...
COOPER: Roland, is he promising too much?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, what he's doing, he's laying down: Here are the markers in terms of my presidency.
I guess, if I had to use an example, sort of when like (INAUDIBLE) Kanye West had his new album, and he said, I want to make it as bad as Stevie Wonder's...
MARTIN: He said, if it doesn't get to that, it's still a great album.
This is a guy who is saying, a president who's saying: Look, I want to raise the stakes. And, so, isn't it amazing that we're sitting here, saying, wow, an ambitious president?
Well, shouldn't we have an ambitious president? Shouldn't we have a president saying, we can do more? He said during the campaign: I can do more things at one time.
And, so, look, if he's able to achieve even half of what he said, frankly, a lot of folks will be pleased because of the last eight years. COOPER: In your Kanye West analogy, I guess the Republicans, then, are 50 Cent?
MARTIN: Yes, because...
COOPER: Because they lost...
MARTIN: Because he sold more albums than he did.
But, again, I mean, this is a -- this is a president who's trying to raise the game.
And I think we need to have more of that vs. saying, slow it down, don't do as much. No. Move it along. Have an ambitious agenda.
COOPER: Ali, from a business standpoint, what -- what are people on the street going to be hearing?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have got to take issue with my friend Ed.
There were specifics that were specific enough that you could hold the president to saying, he isn't doing it if he doesn't do it. He talked about introducing a cap-and-trade system for controlling emissions. That is a costly business that could be -- could -- could get the government some revenue. He will talk about that more in his budget.
He did talk about health care. And we know that's a costly business. He did say those earning more than $250,000 will see their tax cuts repealed. We will hear more about that on Thursday. He did talk about regulatory reform for financial services. We need to know that.
So, the bottom line is, if he doesn't do these things, he has set up those markers. He has now established something that we can go back to and say, he didn't do it, if he didn't...
COOPER: Dana Bash telling us that a number of these Congress people have been standing for hours, reversing spots, just so they could get this close to the president, get his autograph.
So, let's listen in to what they wanted to tell the president that made them wait so long.
OBAMA: Aren't we meeting some time next week? Thursday?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I'm meeting tomorrow.
OBAMA: Thank you so much. God bless you.
Appreciate you. Appreciate you. Keep me in your prayers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great job.
OBAMA: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I want to make sure you have a game. Do you have a game of basketball...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... a game of golf?
OBAMA: My golf is terrible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, good. I will take you on, then. We will play golf.
OBAMA: Thank you, brother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing?
OBAMA: There you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great job. Great speech.
OBAMA: Now, you -- thank you.
Bobby, you know, Harry wants to get home, now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... speech, Mr. President.
OBAMA: Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
OBAMA: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to call somebody...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... go back a little bit more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
OBAMA: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Hey, guys. How are you?
COOPER: President Obama about to leave -- leave from the -- the chambers. From there, there will be five minutes before the Republican response.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will give that response, probably the most important speech thus far of his political career.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: ... the joint session of the two houses now dissolved.
COOPER: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi saying that the House is no longer in session.
David, did -- did the president hit all the marks that he wanted to?
GERGEN: You know, as a political matter -- I would be interested of what our team thinks about this -- I thought it was almost pitch- perfect, in terms of listening to the and responding to the different audiences, coming out with the confidence, reassuring people.
I thought what was most interesting, I did not think (INAUDIBLE) he was very specific about the bank situation...
GERGEN: But I did think he re-argued the bank situation in very much the way FDR would have done in a fireside chat.
And that is, he took the -- he tried to explain banking in very simple terms, and he re-explained it as trying to get the lines of credit flowing, not save the banks.
COOPER: And the president's just about to leave the floor. He's talking to pages, who clearly are very excited to be this close to the president of the United States, as it seems are many members of Congress and the Senate. And welcome to this special edition of A.C. 360. We're going to be on all the way through past midnight, as we bring you as much of the president's speech as we can over the next hour and 20 -- hour and 40 minutes or so.
In case you missed any of the speech, we will be playing -- replaying large sections of it. And, as we said, we're going to be going to Bobby Jindal in just a few moments.
We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues right after this.
COOPER: And good evening, again, our continuing coverage on this special edition of 360.
I'm here with Wolf Blitzer and all of the best political team on television, the CNNMoney team as well, and a Nobel laureate economist, just to name a few.
You will be hearing from them all in the hour and 40 minutes ahead.
President Obama just finished his first address to a joint session of Congress, highly ambitious, mixing policy, pep talk, progress on the economy, saying America's best days are ahead of it, making news, also announcing plans in the next budget to increase the number of soldiers and Marines in the armed forces.
We're awaiting now, just a few minutes away from Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, who's going to be giving tonight's Republican response.
BLITZER: It's a tough response to do.
Whenever the party in opposition has to deliver a response, it's much more difficult. The president has a beautiful setting in the House of Representatives, a joint meeting, interrupted by applause, standing ovations.
Here, you're going to basically see the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, basically looking into a camera and reading a speech. It's not going to have all the drama and excitement. But he does have a very compelling personal story, as the son of immigrants from India and the -- and the road he took to where he is right now.
And we're going to hear that, Anderson, in length from the -- the governor.
COOPER: Right now, you're seeing Statuary Hall, outside the -- the House and Senate chambers, where a lot of reporters are milling around, talking with members of the House, members of the Senate about their perceptions of how this -- how this speech played.
We're just about 20 or so seconds away from, we're told, the -- the beginning of Governor Jindal's speech.
Afterwards, we're going to be hearing from David Gergen and John King, and Pamela Gentry from BET, and Roland Martin, and Ed Rollins, our complete coverage, Ali Velshi as well, and Andy Serwer for business aspects, a lot to cover in the next hour and 40 minutes.
Here is the Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Good evening, and happy Mardi Gras.
I'm Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana.
Tonight, we've witnessed a great moment in the history of our republic. In the very chamber where Congress once voted to abolish slavery, our first African-American president stepped forward to address the state of our union.
With his speech tonight, the president completed a redemptive journey that took our nation from Independence Hall to Gettysburg to the lunch counter and now finally the Oval Office.
Regardless of party, all Americans are moved by the president's personal story, the son of an American mother and a Kenyan father who grew up to become leader of the free world.
Like the president's father, my own parents came to this country from a distant land. When they arrived in Baton Rouge, my mother was already four-and-a-half-months pregnant. I was what folks in the insurance industry now call a pre-existing condition.
To find work, my dad picked up the yellow pages and started calling local businesses. Even after landing a job, he still couldn't afford to pay for my delivery, so he worked out an installment plan with the doctor. Fortunately for me, he never missed a payment.
As I grew up, my mom and dad taught me the values that attracted them to this country, and they instilled in me an immigrant's wonder at the greatness of America.
As I -- as a child, I remember going to the grocery store with my dad. Growing up in India, he had seen extreme poverty. As we walked through the aisles, looking at the endless variety on the shelves, he would tell me, "Bobby, Americans can do anything."
I still believe that to this day: Americans can do anything. When we pull together, there's no challenge we can't overcome.
As the president made clear this evening, we're now in a time of challenge. Many of you listening tonight have lost jobs; others have seen your college and your retirement savings dwindle. Many of you are worried about losing your health care and your homes. You're looking to your elected leaders in Washington for solutions.
Republicans are ready to work with the new president to provide these solutions. Here in my state of Louisiana, we don't care what party you belong to if you have good ideas to make life better for our people. We need more of that attitude from both Democrats and Republicans in our nation's capital.
All of us want our economy to recover and our nation to prosper. So where we agree, Republicans must be the president's strongest partners. And where we disagree, Republicans have a responsibility to be candid and offer better ideas for a path forward.
Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us. Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina, we have our doubts.
Let me tell you a story. During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walk into his makeshift office, I had never seen him so angry. He was literally yelling into the phone."Well, I'm the sheriff, and if you don't like it, you can come and arrest me." I asked him, "Sheriff, what's got you so mad?" He told me that he put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters. The boats were all lined up and ready to go. And then some bureaucrat showed up and told him they couldn't go out in the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration.
And I told him, "Sheriff, that's ridiculous." Before I knew it, he was yelling in the phone."Congressman Jindal's here, and he says you can come and arrest him, too." Well, Harry just told those boaters ignore the bureaucrats and go start rescuing people.
There's a lesson in this experience: The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and the enterprising spirit of our citizens.
We're grateful for the support we've received from across the nation for our ongoing recovery efforts. This spirit got Louisiana through the hurricanes, and this spirit will get our nation through the storms we face today.
To solve our current problems, Washington must lead. But the way to lead is not to raise taxes, not to just put more money and power in the hands of Washington politicians. The way to lead is by empowering you, the American people, because we believe that Americans can do anything.
That's why Republicans put forward plans to create jobs by lowering income tax rates for working families, cutting taxes for small businesses, strengthening incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment and to hire new workers, and stabilizing home values by creating a new tax credit for homebuyers. These plans would cost less and create more jobs.
But Democratic leaders in Congress, they rejected this approach. Instead of trusting us to make decisions with our own money, they passed the largest government spending bill in history, with a price tag of more than $1 trillion with interest. While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a magnetic levitation line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called volcano monitoring.
Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.
Democratic leaders say their legislation will grow the economy. What it will do is grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt. Who amongst us would ask our children for a loan, so we could spend money we do not have on things we do -- we do not need?
That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did. It's irresponsible. And it's no way to strengthen our economy, create jobs, or build a prosperous future for our children.
In Louisiana, we took a different approach. Since I became governor, we cut more than 250 earmarks from the state budget. To create jobs for our citizens, we cut taxes six times, including the largest income tax cut in the history of our state. We passed those tax cuts with bipartisan majorities. Republicans and Democrats put aside their differences. We worked together to make sure our people could keep more of what they earned. If it can be done in Baton Rouge, surely it can be done in Washington, D.C.
To strengthen our economy, we need urgent action to keep energy prices down. All of us remember what it felt like to pay $4 at the pump. Unless we act now, those prices will return. To stop that from happening, we need to increase conservation, increase energy efficiency, increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels, increase our use of nuclear power, and increase drilling for oil and gas here at home.
We believe that Americans can do anything. And if we unleash that innovative spirit of our citizens, we can achieve energy independence. To strengthen our economy, we also need to address the crisis in health care.
Republicans believe in a simple principle. No American should have to worry about losing their health-care coverage. Period. We stand for universal access to affordable health-care coverage. What we oppose is universal government-run health care. Health-care decisions should be made by doctors and patients, not by government bureaucrats.
We believe Americans can do anything. And if we put aside partisan politics and work together, we can make our system of private medicine affordable and accessible for every one of our citizens.
To strengthen our economy we also need to make sure that every child in America gets the best possible education. After Hurricane Katrina, we reinvented the New Orleans school system, opening dozens of new charter schools and creating a new scholarship program that is giving parents the chance to send their children to private or parochial schools of their choice. We believe that, with the proper education, the children of America can do anything. But it shouldn't take a devastating storm to bring this kind of innovation to education in our country.
To strengthen our economy, we must promote confidence in America by ensuring ours is the most ethical and transparent system in the world. In my home state there used to be a saying. At any given time, half of Louisiana was said to be half under water and the other half under indictment. Nobody says that anymore. Last year we passed some of the strongest ethics laws in the nation. And today, Louisiana has turned her back on the corruption of the past.
We need to bring transparency to Washington, D.C., so we can rid our capital of corruption and ensure that we never see the passage of another trillion-dollar spending bill that Congress hasn't even read and the American people haven't even seen.
As we take these steps, we must remember, for all of our troubles at home, dangerous enemies still seek our destruction. Now is no time to dismantle the defenses that have protected this country for hundreds of years. Or to make deep cuts in funding for our troops. America's fighting men and women can do anything. If we give them the resources they need, they will stay on the offensive to defeat our enemies and protect us from harm.
In all these areas Republicans want to work with President Obama. We appreciate his message of hope. But sometimes it seems like we look for hope in different places. Democratic leaders in Washington, they place their hope in the federal government. We place our hope in you, the American people.
In the end it comes down to an honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government. We oppose the national Democratic view that says the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government. We believe the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington, to empower individuals and small businesses to grow our economy, and to create jobs.
In recent years, these distinctions in philosophy became less clear. Our party got away from its principles. You elected Republicans to champion limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibility. Instead, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington. Republicans lost your trust, and rightly so.
Tonight, on behalf of our leaders in Congress and my fellow Republican governors, I say this. Our party is determined to regain your trust. We will do so by standing up for the principles that we share, the principles you elected us to fight for, the principles that built this, the greatest and most prosperous country on earth.
You know, a few weeks ago the president warned that our country is facing a crisis that he said, in quotes, we may not be able to reverse. Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover. Don't let anyone tell you that America's best days are behind her. This is the nation that cast off the scourge of slavery, overcame the Great Depression, prevailed in two world wars, won the struggle for civil rights, defeated the Soviet menace, and responded with determined courage the attacks of September 11, 2001. The American spirit has triumphed over almost every form of adversity known to man, and the American spirit will triumph again.
We can have confidence in our future, because amid all of today's challenges, we also count many blessings. We have the most innovative citizens, the most abundant resources, the most resilient economy, the most powerful military, and the freest political system in the history of the world. My fellow citizens, never forget, we are Americans. Like my dad said years ago, Americans can do anything.
Thank you for listening. God bless you. God bless Louisiana. And God bless America.
COOPER: That was Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal with the Republican response. We're going to talk more about that shortly.
But before we do, we have a lot to cover now. We want to bring you the first of several extended pieces from the president's message tonight, uncut, so you can decide for yourselves how he did or take part in the debate on our live chat at AC360.com right now. And for the first time on Facebook, as well, they'll be asking viewers what they thought, what you thought and we'll be bringing you the answers throughout this next hour and 20 minutes. We're calling it taking the Facebook pulse. And some of the results already are fascinating.
We'll also be bringing you results from CNN polling on the president's speech tonight. We're crunching the numbers right now. A lot to cover. First, here's the president in his own words.
OBAMA: While our economy may be weakened, and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this. We will rebuild. We will recover. And the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.
The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock markets sank. We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year. Yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for.
And though all of these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before. In other words, we have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity, where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. The surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future.
Regulations -- regulations -- regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day. Well, that day of reckoning has arrived. And the time to take charge of our future is here.
COOPER: The strategy session now with senior political analyst, David Gergen; chief national correspondent, John King; CNN political analyst, Roland Martin; and chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi.
David, what struck you most overall about the president's speech?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president's speech, I thought, was in many ways for him a tour de force politically. I did not think it addressed in the ways that many investors in the business community is looking for more certainty about the -- about his plans with regard to the banks, for example, and other things.
But I thought in terms of talking to the country at large, ambitious, inspiring. I just think it's going to be politically one of the most helpful things he'll do. It's a wonderful forum for him. It's an emotional warm bath.
COOPER: Bobby Jindal?
GERGEN: Bobby Jindal, he's a rising star. But you know, I couldn't understand the argument about Katrina. He said, you know, "We did this. It's a private effort." I've been trying to find out on the Web how much the federal government has spent. The latest numbers I can see is, since Katrina was, you know, in the recovery effort, Katrina, the federal government has spent about $175 billion here. It's not as if it didn't cost anything. The government came to their aid.
COOPER: No doubt about that -- Roland.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In terms of the president, his goal tonight was not to talk to Wall Street. He was talking to Main Street. He was talking to the average American, saying, "Look, I believe in you." He, in many ways, was projecting confidence...
COOPER: He's been accused of having too much gloom -- you know, too much gloom and doom.
MARTIN: Right. I think that was him shooting straight with the American people. And tonight he repeated some of those same things.
But again, I think what he was trying to do was saying, "Look, I believe in you. But also this is where we're going." And so it was great having that. And there was a certain moment I also thought he was talking so fast, John, I thought he was trying to get ahead of himself a bit there. You know, it's like slow it down a bit. Just simply, you know, finish the thought. But he wanted to project that because, again, people want to have the understanding that, yes, it's difficult. Stock market may be down. But we are achieving some form of progress. And things are going to get better.
COOPER: John King, he used the word "recovery" 22 times tonight.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is because he wants to inspire the American people confidence that we will get there. We will recover. It may take a while. There may be some bumps in the road. It may even get worse before it gets better, but have confidence in me. Trust me is the biggest part of the speech tonight. Please trust me.
To David's point, not a lot of specifics for Wall Street or the board of Citibank or Bank of America about what's to come. But what the president's trying to do is to convince the American people this big stuff that you are resentful about, your tax dollars going to bail out these big bankers, it matters to you. And if we don't fix this it will come to the community bank up the street from you. That's the part the president's trying to convince. For all the support he has, he knows on some of the specifics people are incredibly skeptical.
COOPER: And yet we're still awaiting more specifics, Ali Velshi, for -- from Tim Geithner and others.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're going to hopefully get those. We're still waiting. We've got a stimulus plan in place. We've got a housing plan that we're going to hear more details about March 4. We still haven't figured out, to John's point and David's point, the specificity of what's going to be done to save the banks. And we are right back to where we were in September, where we realized that this credit mess and banks that are destabilized are a big, big problem for our economy.
But at the end of the speech President Obama talked about restarting the engine of prosperity and the enduring spirit of an America that does not quit. So this is the other side of all he's been telling everybody about how dire the situation is. He's sort of saying, we're on top of it now.
COOPER: We've got to take a short break. We have a lot more to cover in the next hour and 20 minutes. We'll have more from our panel. Join the conversation online at AC360.com. The live chat is happening now, right there. Follow the links.
Also, ahead, Erica Hill will be having a live Web cast during our commercial breaks. We'll also be bringing you early results from CNN/Opinion Research polling tonight. We're crunching the numbers.
And taking the country's pulse, if you will, the Facebook pulse. Instant answers to this question: after listening to the president's address, are you hopeful, fearful, or no change? More hopeful, more fearful, or no change? Find out what Americans around the country and people around the world said to that. More when our special coverage continues.
COOPER: And you're looking at the scene in Statuary Hall. A number of -- obviously, the president has left -- left Capitol Hill already. Still a number of senators and Congressmen -- Congress people. A number of reporters and others still just milling around, talking to one another, getting reaction on the president's speech.
President Obama wrapped up his first address before Congress a short time ago. What's the verdict? We're going to get instant reaction with something new we're trying tonight. CNN is working with Facebook to see what some of its 175 million users thought of the speech. They were given questions during the address. Now, let's see answers. We call it "Facebook Pulse."
Erica Hill is keeping track of the results as they are streaming in.
Erica, what have we found out so far?
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, it was fascinating to follow the discussion on Facebook. So many people posting so quickly. Hundreds of thousands of people RSVP'ed to this event, as you've heard, a partnership between CNN and Facebook to watch the president's address and respond to it online. And as you mentioned, we sent out what we're calling pulses, questions that we sent out throughout the day to all of the people on Facebook who had said, "Yes, I'm going to watch tonight." More than 700,000 responses to these pulses that we sent out.
We want to give you a quick overview of two questions that were sent out, two pulses that told us what people thought, actually, of what they were watching. So you can see here, after listening to the president's address, we asked people in these pulses, are you more hopeful, more fearful, or is there no change?
As you can see, the top answer here, 52 percent, just over half of those responding said they are more hopeful after listening to the president's address.
Now, we also broke it down over here. Wanted to give you a better sense of who was actually responding to this question. If you look at it based on men and women, you can see, overall, men are actually a little bit more hopeful; women a little bit more fearful. That's going to be interesting, too, as we look at some of the other questions throughout the night that we've been asking.
We also asked people whether or not the president's address addressed some of their top priorities. Just over half of the people said that. We're going to tell you what those priorities were and what they felt about the responses coming up a little later bit tonight on AC360 -- Anderson. COOPER: We also have polling information where we're still crunching the numbers on. From Facebook let's go to a fact check. Did President Obama's address deliver what counts the most. Tom Foreman has the details -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you know, when it came to the general facts, the president did a pretty good job of checking the facts before making the speech. We really should say that up front, because sometimes it really jumps out when you watch a speech. But not so much in this case. This looks like he struck pretty much to the facts all the way through.
But we want you to know a bit more of the story in some cases. For example, listen to what he said about his economic stimulus plans and jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Over the next two years this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector, jobs rebuilding roads and bridges, constructing wind turbines and solar panels, laying broadband and expanding mass transit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: It really could work out that way. But the Congressional Budget Office has looked over his plans and put the estimate -- 3.5 million jobs he mentioned there -- near the upper end of possibility. The CBO says the lower end could be only 1.3 million jobs created.
And one detail you should note. The president always says create or save that many jobs. So if we can figure out how to count unlost jobs, he may be right on the money. We'll have to see.
On the subject of energy, listen to what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: So official energy statistics from the U.S. government show, in fact, that the high water mark of us bringing in imported oil was actually back in about 2005, 2006. So he's really pretty close on that. We're down a little bit now. That was the highest.
But if you're talking about the question of security when you talk about importing oil, you're partially talking about where it comes from. And the simple truth is the United States was importing as much oil from OPEC back in the late 1970s -- you can see on this government chart -- as we are now. So if that's the issue, well, we're just not as strung out there as it may have appeared.
So one more thing I did want to mention in all of this. We're talking about transportation and cars, this sort of things. One of the mentions the president had late in this whole thing was that -- that the United States is the country that created the car. Well, it's a simple thing to say and an easy mistake to make. Henry Ford certainly popularized mass production and standardized parts. But historians widely say the car's first patent for a gasoline engine was held by Karl Benz. And if you know Mercedes Benz, you know he was a German -- Anderson.
COOPER: Interesting, Tom. I didn't catch that.
All right. Next on 360, we're going to get reaction from inside the Capitol. What do Democrats and Republicans think of Mr. Obama's speech? Dana Bash has some of the flavor from inside the Capitol tonight.
Also ahead, looking at the options and the numbers. Results from the CNN poll, how Americans think the American did tonight. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger or yield to the politics of the moment. My job, our job, is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend -- I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive. But I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can't pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can't get a mortgage. That's what this is about. It's not about helping banks. It's about helping people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Over the next hour plus, we are going to be bringing you the most important moments from the president's speech tonight in extended clips, just in case you missed it or want to see them again. Holding Wall Street accountable while vowing to help American families. That's what the family was doing right there. Reaching out tonight across the country -- to the country. Mr. Obama also saying he would bring unity to Washington. It's a pretty tall order. Congress is as divided as ever. Only a handful of Republicans voted for the stimulus package.
Let's get more on the GOP response to tonight's speech. Joining us with the raw politics, CNN senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. And I am now in Statuary Hall just steps away from the House chamber where President Obama gave that address. And what you see here are members of Congress milling around with their families. But also talking to reporters.
Also members of the Obama administration are still here, as well, trying to put their spin, if you will, on the president's speech.
And I think -- I was also in the chamber during the president's speech, and certainly, as opposed to what we saw for the past eight years, particularly the past couple of years with President Bush, there definitely was more of a bipartisan tone in terms of the kind of reaction he got. Particularly, the -- the things like talking about being competitive in the world and about America getting back on its feet.
But, you know, what was very interesting is that with -- even with the things that everybody applauded, like, for example, health care, everybody said, we need to address health care. But already in talking to Republicans here, probably won't surprise you, they say, "You know what? It's a worthy goal. It's important. We need to do it. But his approach, what they call government-run health care, that's not going to work."
So those are the kind of things that we're hearing policy-wise and also in terms of the atmospheric from these members of Congress. You said that there is a partisan divide. Certainly, he tried to bridge that. But there's no question even after that speech, it still exists.
COOPER: You know, we were just watching the pictures of the president as he was entering and Congress people on both sides of the aisle there to greet him. You said something earlier which I was kind of stunned by. A number of those members of Congress spent, like, all day standing around just to get those good seats.
BASH: Just to get the good seats and just to get -- let's be honest. Just to get the pictures on television. You're exactly right. For example...
COOPER: Don't they have anything better -- I mean, I hate to be rude. But don't they have anything better to do than stand or sit for eight hours, like holding a seat?
BASH: That's a very good -- more than eight hours in many cases, Anderson. And it's a very good question. And for some of them the answer is no. Democratic Elliott Engel of New York...
COOPER: Who sat there?
BASH: Elliott Engel, I talked to his folks earlier today. Anderson, he got there at 8:30 this morning, 8:30 this morning.. There aren't assigned seats. So they know, people like Elliott Engel, know full well that he is going to be in the line of President Obama, will be able to shake his hand, and we will be able to see and hear him doing that. And he wanted that moment with the president.
He's not the only one who did it. But he seems to be probably the person who got there the earliest this morning. He sat there with newspapers, his cell phone. He just hung out there, waiting for the president to come.
COOPER: It's like waiting for, like, Madonna tickets or something. It was just -- it was kind of pathetic. All right. Dana, thanks very much.
Ahead, we're going to be playing more big chunks of the president's address tonight. We think it's important for you to hear as much as possible of the speech. The president in his own words.
And we'll be checking with our political gurus to get their take. Is the president's strategy a good one? How much bipartisanship is going to be possible? Hear what they have to say.
Plus your feedback. Candy Crowley has the results of our CNN/Opinion Research polling.
Our coverage continues through midnight. We'll be right back.