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CNN Larry King Live

Celebrating the Obama Inauguration

Aired January 17, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight the Obama Express rolls into Washington. And right into history. Two million people, maybe more, are descending on the capital to witness firsthand the global event, the swearing-in just three days away.
Among them John Legend, James Taylor and Pete Wentz. And they're with us tonight. Quincy Jones, too.

Plus, we'll have inside accounts of what happened on Obama's train today.

Our special Saturday night LARRY KING LIVE coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama begins right now.

Good evening. In the spirit of Abraham Lincoln's path to Washington, Barack Obama rode the rails into the capital and just a short time ago. The 137-mile whistle-stop trip aboard a vintage railcar began in Philadelphia.

Vice president-elect Joe Biden, no stranger to commuting by rail, climbed on board in his hometown, Wilmington, Delaware.

With us tonight, Ed Henry, the CNN senior White House correspondent. He is in front of the White House. And here in our studios Candy Crowley, CNN senior political correspondent, and in a couple of moments, we'll meet three of the -- we'll meet three of those people who rode those rails.

Where's George Bush tonight, Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He's at Camp David, the final time he'll be there as president, Larry. He is spending the weekend there.

It's sort of eerily quiet here. I just walked by Dana Perino's office, the press secretary. It's pretty much all cleaned out. Some of the lights are still on here, but they're making way for that transition, obviously, and we're all going to watch it very closely, Larry.

KING: And across the street in Blair House, is -- are the Obamas there tonight now?

HENRY: That's right. Yes, there -- the lights look like they're out. It's about a football field away from me right now across Pennsylvania Avenue. And I can see most of the lights look like they're out. We were told by aides to the president-elect that he's going to be working on his inaugural address. He's been working on it for weeks now. But that when he got off this train he was going to be working on it again tonight. So you can bet he'll be doing that in the days ahead, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Ed. Ed Henry, as always atop the scene.

Candy Crowley, what was it like today?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was -- you know, it was like this nostalgic trip into the future. I mean it had, it had sort of all kinds of elements to it. It -- yes, it was about the history of Lincoln, and starting in Philadelphia, it's about the forefathers.

But it was this sort of mix of a call to arms along with warning, saying we can't fix this all at once and I'm going to make mistakes, but I really need you. And I think there was a -- there was a timing here, I think, with bringing on some of your guests that you're going to talk to later tonight, people, as we call them the real Americans, that were...


CROWLEY: No, yes, that were on the trip with him, people he met along the way that all had stories that meant something to him. That -- that this was about rolling forward with the same kind of momentum that he got during the campaign.

KING: Did he roam the train?

CROWLEY: Oh, yes. No. They -- your guests will have seen him a good deal more than I did on the train. He only roamed so far.

KING: All right. Let's -- Candy, you sit. Let's have the three guests join us.

Quincy Lucas, she's one of a special group of everyday Americans chosen to travel with Obama, an advocate for victims' rights. Matt Koontz, invited on board. His stepbrother committed suicide after returning from Iraq. And Greg Weaver who's traveled the trip many times, he's the Amtrak conductor who knows the vice president-elect from his decades as a daily commuter.

What was it like, Quincy?

QUINCY LUCAS, PASSENGER, OBAMA EXPRESS: It was awesome. We got to spend quite a bit of time with the President-elect Obama and had a lot of fun with our -- future first lady. We -- formed a bond on the train. We became like a family. It -- was incredible. It was absolutely incredible.

KING: Did they serve you food, Matt?

MATT KOONTZ, PASSENGER, OBAMA EXPRESS: You know, he -- he actually had some of my wife's cracker and cheese, but...

KING: Did they have food?

KOONTZ: Oh, they -- had sandwiches there on the train.

KING: Was it a good job, did they do?

KOONTZ: They -- did. I was more than happy.

KING: How many times had you made that trip, George?


KING: Greg, I'm sorry.

WEAVER: Five days a week. Five days a week. The last 36 1/2 years. A lot of miles.

KING: How many times did Biden travel it with you?

WEAVER: Quite often. Quite often. Naturally, his job, he doesn't commute every day. He could be overseas. He could be all over. But there were times when he does travel five days a week. And he used to ride the same train in the morning, 7:30 train out of Wilmington.

KING: Quincy, do you share Candy's view of this as both going and coming in a sense?

LUCAS: Definitely. You know, on the train it was great because President-elect Obama made it perfectly clear that together with just everyday Americans we are really going to make a difference in this country. And he just continued to echo that throughout the train. And the bond and the camaraderie that we all felt on that train was just infectious. It was awesome.

KING: Your brother's suicide due to post traumatic stress?

KOONTZ: Yes, sir.

KING: And that's something you focus on?

KOONTZ: That's something I've dedicated my life to really making sure that our country takes care of its returning service members.

KING: Do you think President-elect Obama will keep the promise of ending the war?

KOONTZ: I -- believe that he will. One of the things that I've been -- was really blown away when we met last August was just by his sincerity. I don't know a lot of public officials, but this one felt really normal to me.

KING: What was the security like, Greg?

WEAVER: It was, it was full security. I've -- all my years of Amtrak, I've never seen security like this. I felt very safe out there. I felt like it was probably the safest place in the world to be today.

The Secret Service were very polite to us. Amtrak security is always great.

KING: Candy, his appeal, how do you explain it?

CROWLEY: I think it's a couple of things. I think, first of all, that his appeal, in some ways, harkens back to the last eight years that people were really tired. They were looking for something new. They were looking for something fresh. I think early on we can go back and see ways that people see Hillary Clinton as not as new as Barack Obama.

I think that there is a -- widespread feeling. And -- when I would go to rallies and I would talk to African-Americans afterwards and I'd say why, you know, why do you like him? Well, like, you know, he's going to fix healthcare, he's going to do.

But can you believe it because maybe we're going to have the first African-American president. And then I'd ask white people. I said why are you here? And they'd pick something of his -- you know he's going to end the war, whatever it was, and then they'd say, you know what, I think it would really say something about our country if we elected a black president.

And I think there's just this feeling that -- together, which is one of his themes, people are making history. And I think they like that. I don't think that's the only reason but I think there's a lot of it. I think there's a lot of excitement around him.

And by the way, he's just a really good speaker on the stump.

KING: You bet.


KING: Are you going to the inaugural, Quincy?

LUCAS: Yes, I am.

KING: Do you have a seat?

LUCAS: We have reserved -- we have a reserved area for all of the events. So we're really looking forward to it.

KING: You going, Matt?

KOONTZ: Yes, sir.

KING: You going, Greg?

WEAVER: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

KING: You don't have to get on the train and go back up to Philly?

WEAVER: No, not until Thursday. I'll be back Thursday morning. KING: Quincy, are you shocked by this, in a sense? You're going to see a black man inaugurated president of the United States.

LUCAS: I'm totally blown away. Never in my lifetime. You know, you think to yourself, well, maybe there's always that possibility. But certainly you never really think that it would actually happen, that you would see an African-American person serve in the top leadership position in the country.

But it just goes to -- show that, you know, all things are possible. And I'm just thrilled and excited about it.

KING: Boy, I bet you would be. I thank you all very much. Must have been quite a day.

Candy, huh?

CROWLEY: It was. It was. You know?

KING: On wards, Candy.

CROWLEY: It's the beginning of something. Yes. Moving forward.

KING: Quincy Lucas, Matt Koontz, Greg Weaver and our own Candy Crowley.

Fallout Boys' Pete Wentz and music legend Quincy Jones will be here when LARRY KING LIVE returns. And we're just getting warmed up.



BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT ELECT: What's required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives.


OBAMA: That's the reason I launched my campaign for the presidency of nearly two years ago. Let's make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but just the beginning.


KING: Let's welcome a couple of generations of incredible musicians. Here in Washington, Pete Wentz, songwriter and musician, a member of the group Fallout Boy. He'll be performing at the Youth Inaugural Ball.

And in Los Angeles the brilliant Quincy Jones, musician, composer, producer, humanitarian, author of "The Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey and Passions."

Why aren't you here, Quincy? QUINCY JONES, MUSICIAN, PRODUCER, HUMANITARIAN: I was just there last week at the Kennedy Center honors the kids, they said -- told me, you get one or the other, my family, because they're as excited as I am.

KING: Now, Pete, you've got to...

JONES: I talked -- I've talked to the producers a couple of times, too. And I didn't really know what was going on so.

KING: Pete, you've got a special role. You've got a special -- in fact, you're tied in unusual to this because your -- parents met in a Biden campaign?

PETE WENTZ, PERFORMING SUNDAY AT YOUTH INAUGURAL BALL: Yes. They -- met working for Biden in '74. And so it's really kind of like -- it's really cool and special for them. And my dad brings it up a lot of times and it's kind of awkward for me. But it's pretty cool. They've been Biden supporters for a long time.

JONES: Is that him?

KING: There's a picture of Senator Biden holding up young Pete Wentz.

WENTZ: Who is -- who's about the same height -- I'm about the same height as I was then.

KING: He has not grown, by the way, since that picture. You said you would not exist as a human being if it wasn't for Biden.

That's true.

WENTZ: I think it's a technical truth. My parents would not have met otherwise. Maybe they would have met somewhere else, but I think that Joe Biden is actually the reason my parents first met, fell in love so.


KING: Great story.

Quincy, Monday is Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday. Tuesday, Barack Obama is sworn in. How does that make you feel?

JONES: It's what Dr. King says, I have a dream. And I remember the first day I met Dr. King in 1955. I didn't even say Dr. King, I said Martin King. He was at Jackie Robinson's home. And this is the dream.

And it's ironic that they are in consecutive days because I worked with Stevie when he did the first celebration at Kennedy Center. It was amazing. And to be alive to see all this is just -- is beyond miraculous.

KING: Now, Pete, what's it like for you? I know you're the youth vote. You got -- you were involved in this campaign, right? WENTZ: Yes, absolutely. I think that the interesting thing about it is, is that Barack was able to, in new ways, kind of engage young people who had felt disenfranchised and felt like that they were not being engaged in the past through Twitter or blogs and grassroots organizations, getting people who maybe aren't even of age to vote to actually get out and canvass, and get them next time when they can vote.

And he was able to actually kind of use that and in -- a new way that I don't think -- I haven't seen a candidate in -- since I've been able to vote be able to do -- so. And I think that the great thing is that these people aren't jaded. They're excited about politics now. They're excited about what's going on. They're excited about change they believe is going to happen.

And now I think it's going to be interesting to see how Obama kind of navigates Washington, whether he's going to be able to kind of still engage those people that were the original -- you know, the base of the youth vote and -- take those ideas and bring them to Washington and send them through, because I think people -- have high expectations now.

KING: You think they will remain involved and interested?

WENTZ: I think they're going to remain involved and interested as long as he keeps engaging them and as long as he follows through with the things that he said that he was -- you know, he planned to do, his ideas.

KING: Quincy, Pete is a much younger man than you, so you come from different perspectives. I don't...

JONES: A couple of years.


KING: I don't imagine you'd ever expect you'd see this, did you?

JONES: Never in my life, no. Absolutely not. And it's -- astounding. He is really the man to do it, too. He's -- I love the -- it's great to have a leader that doesn't get crumbled when something bad happens and who doesn't get overjoyed when something good happens.

He's a centered leader, which makes me feel very comfortable.

WENTZ: A couple of platinum records as well.


KING: And a couple of platinum records, too, Quincy. Do you know, Quincy?

JONES: A couple -- a couple of what?

WENTZ: A couple of platinum records. I'm a big, big fan so. JONES: You, too, Pete. God bless America.

WENTZ: It's an honor to even be talking to you via satellite for me.

JONES: Thank you, man. Same here.

KING: You know of Quincy Jones?


WENTZ: Yes, absolutely.

JONES: I've been -- I've following you, dude.


KING: All right. We're asking viewers to answer this question, so we'll ask it directly of you.

Pete, what does the inauguration of Barack Obama directly mean to you?

WENTZ: To me, it means that we have a chance to have a new face for America in the world. As a -- person who travels the world and sees how we're viewed abroad, I believe that we have a -- chance to kind of revitalize what our look is.

And obviously it's historical because this is our first African- American president. I think it's -- only a greater chance for us to be viewed in a different way as a nation and I'm stoked on that.

KING: What does it mean to you, Quincy?

JONES: It's -- the same thing. I almost got calls -- from two dozen heads of state after he won. And I've been traveling the world for 54 years, a couple more years than Peter. But it's -- new hope. It's -- we've been viewed as an isolationist country. And I think that's definitely going to change because he's worldly, he's centered, he's cool.

He's got all the qualifications I've ever looked for in a leader.

KING: By the way, if he supports a secretary of the arts, which I know you'd favor, would you want that job?

JONES: Yes, I'll take it.


KING: Well put.

JONES: We're putting -- we're putting a summit together that would reinforce that, would make it so easy. The best musical minds and schools in America. And it's about time that we have a secretary of the arts, you know, to represent a country whose music has been utilized as the inspiration of every country on the planet. It's unbelievable. WENTZ: I signed the petition with my real e-mail address. So don't send me...

JONES: You signed the petition.

WENTZ: So don't sell off those e-mail addresses. I signed the petition for -- for you for the...

JONES: Thank you, Peter.


WENTZ: I don't want to end up with a bunch of spam mail.

JONES: These beautiful people, you know, Jaime Austria and Peter Weitzner -- these two guys, they're based with the New York opera, they just took the online thing and it sat and in four days there's 130,000 votes. I can't -- it's unbelievable.

KING: Wow.

JONES: The petition.

KING: Thank you both very much.

JONES: And they're so passionate.

KING: Pete, we'll see you at the inaugural.

WENTZ: Thank you.

KING: Quincy, you'll be there in spirit.

Quincy Jones and Pete Wentz.

JONES: Thank you, Larry. Read my new book, Larry.

KING: I got it at home. It's -- two traditions in American music.

When we come back, speaking of traditions, John Legend and James Taylor. Don't go away.


KING: Surely the Obama express was the slowest train from Philadelphia to Washington ever. But its leisurely pace gave tens of thousands of people a chance to line the route and wave. And those on board the opportunity to ride the rails of history.

Check it out.


OBAMA: Just fired up and ready to go. What's required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation but in our own lives. It's in our own hearts, from ideology and small thinking -- from prejudice and bigotry, from selfishness and narrow interest, an appeal not to our easy instincts, but to our better angels.

Hello, Delaware!

Yours are the voices I've carried with me every day in the White House.

JOE BIDEN (D), VICE-PRESIDENT ELECT: I promise you we will not let you down. We have promises to keep.

OBAMA: Let us seek together a better world in our time. You're never too old to think it's fun. You pull it and toot, toot. Just the way you want to do it.


KING: James Taylor and John Legend are here and next right after this.



BIDEN: We can and we will change this nation. In our most difficult moments, our nation has always chosen a leader the times demand. And I believe that's why this nation has turned to Barack Obama.

OBAMA: Now it falls to us to pick ourselves up, to reach for the promise of a better day and to work hard every single day together to perfect our union once more.


KING: It's a privilege to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE two major American musical figures, John Legend, the singer, songwriter and musician. His he latest album "The Evolver." He'll perform tomorrow at the "We Are One Obama Inaugural Celebration" at the Lincoln Memorial.

And James Taylor, singer, songwriter, musician. His latest album is "Covers" nominated, by the way, for two Grammys. He'll be performing with John at tomorrow's Lincoln Memorial concert.

Have you ever performed together, John?

JOHN LEGEND, PERFORMING SUNDAY AT LINCOLN MEMORIAL: I think this is our first time. We've been on the same show before on the same program but this is our first time doing a song together.

KING: Were you a supporter of Obama?


KING: Did you campaign? TAYLOR: We went down in North Carolina and did a -- series of -- the campaign invited us to go down to my old home state and do a series of rallies down there. It was a really inspiring.

KING: I know you did, too, right?

LEGEND: Yes, I did a few concerts. I did some stuff in Ohio, which is my home state. Did some stuff in Pennsylvania where I went to the University of Pennsylvania. So did a few things to get out the vote.

KING: What happened to your eye?

TAYLOR: I tripped and fell. My wife told me to say I hit a doorknob, but it's not true.


KING: Well, sorry.

LEGEND: She gave him a good round house.


KING: All right. What does it all mean? What does it mean to you, John?

LEGEND: Well, it's exciting. It feels like we're right in the middle of history. And I'm just excited to be a part of it. I'm inspired by this whole process, seeing how such a grassroots movement turned into this.

And I'm optimistic about the future. I'm optimistic about the prospect of having a really wise and -- centered president and somebody who's really got his ear to what the people want and what the people need. And I think he's going to do a great job. I'm excited.

KING: Ever think you'd see this, James?

TAYLOR: You know, it's an amazing thing. And -- the change that it represents seems to have come so fast. Maybe that's always the case with really big change that it seems to happen in an instant. But, you know, it's -- a wonderful day coming up day after tomorrow.

KING: And you're a North Carolinian.


KING: So you grew up seeing segregation firsthand, right?

TAYLOR: You know, it -- that was the amazing thing. To be in North Carolina and to see it -- to see it move in a way, North Carolina owned the chains.

LEGEND: Yes, yes.

KING: It did. TAYLOR: It was only 8,000 votes that Obama finally carried the state by. But -- everyone who worked down there on that campaign felt as though they pushed it over the line. It was a thrill.

KING: And Ohio?

LEGEND: And Ohio. I was -- I was worried.


LEGEND: But Ohio came through this time.

KING: John Legend and James Taylor. LARRY KING LIVE special Saturday night edition. We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with the appropriately named John Legend and James Taylor.

What's it like to perform outdoors?

LEGEND: Well, it's just...

KING: Which you'll do tomorrow.

LEGEND: It's quite cold today.


LEGEND: We rehearsed today and it's probably about, what, 15 degrees?

KING: Is it harder outdoors?

LEGEND: It's harder in the cold. You're not meant to breathe and sing in that weather. And -- we make it work, but it's not the most -- most fun of circumstances.

KING: Is it a little more awe inspiring, James, when it's an event like the Lincoln Memorial?

TAYLOR: Absolutely. What a -- what a surrounding. What a place. You know, it's just -- it's a thrill.

JOHN LEGEND, SINGER: When you look up at the statue, it's really larger than life literally. And being there and then just imaging what the sea of people is going to be like tomorrow, it's going to be incredible.

KING: What are you singing, James?

TAYLOR: We're doing "Shower the People", sort of an anthem. Seemed like an appropriate song for...

KING: That you wrote?

TAYLOR: Yeah. And it's a thrill to have John -- Jennifer Nettles is also...

LEGEND: From Sugarland.

KING: You're singing?

LEGEND: I'm singing. Jennifer is a great singer, by the way. I never met her but she sound so good.

KING: What are you singing?

TAYLOR: We're singing together.

KING: Oh, you're singing...

TAYLOR: We're all singing "Show the People" together.

KING: Have you ever sung together?


LEGEND: Just today. We've talked about it. We -- our paths cross at various events and we keep saying, oh, we've got to get together and do something.

KING: Does it work? Because not necessarily -- you can be two great singers and not necessarily...

LEGEND: It's always a little bit of work but, for us, our job is fun. I think you probably feel the same way. You get to do what you love to do all the time. So for us, even though there's some work involved with it, this is a great thing. We're very lucky to be able to do what we do and do it in a moment of history is a great thing.

KING: Are you singing at a ball, too?

TAYLOR: Yeah. There's a New England ball, I guess, on Tuesday night. I'm going to perform at that with my band.

KING: Is it more awe-inspiring for you based on the occasion? It's not a concert, right, like in...

LEGEND: Yeah. This is big time. We made it.

KING: HBO is telecasting.

LEGEND: Yeah, yeah. This is great.

KING: Do you feel it more?

TAYLOR: You see the monuments around you. You see the people. Just driving to the gig, it's just -- Washington is a -- you can't help but get into the spirit. And the way the town feels in these past couple of days...

KING: Energy.

TAYLOR: Oh, man.

LEGEND: Yeah. I'm just excited to be around this atmosphere. It won't probably hit me for real until tomorrow when we see the crowd and hear them roar and see them go as far as the eye can see. That's going to be when it really hits.

KING: All right.

What does it mean to you, James, this inaugural?

TAYLOR: Well, it -- for me, it feels as though the country is back. As I sort of -- think of it and as I know it. It seems like a return to -- I've heard other people say, on this show, to engagement, to responsibility, in a sense, to sort of rolling up our sleeves and facing reality.

In a way, it feels like the millennium delayed a little bit, as though things are finally starting. We're finally moving into the future.

KING: John, what does it mean to you?

LEGEND: It's exciting for me. I think because of my age, I haven't been kind of aware of a president that's had this much optimism and so much support. Bush, both of his elections were sort of contested. You never felt like he was the clear winner. Clinton didn't win a majority in either of his elections. He won a plurality. This is the first time in my life where I feel like I'm fully aware of a president who has the full support of America, a true mandate. It gives me a sense of optimism that we really decided we're going to get it together.

KING: It's an honor having you both with us. Good luck tomorrow. You don't need luck. John Legend, James Taylor.

What does the inauguration of Barack Obama mean to you? Go to Click in our blog and tell us.

If someone told you that two million people were coming to visit, how would you react?

Speaking of young blacks with a future, the mayor of Washington is here next to tell us how the city got it all together for what might be the event of the century.


KING: It's a pleasure to welcome to "LARRY KING LIVE," on our special Saturday night edition, Adrian Fenty. He's the mayor of the District of Columbia.

You look good tonight.

ADRIAN FENTY, MAJOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.: Thank you. It's part of being in D.C. these days. This is the official attire.

KING: Is the town set? FENTY: The town is not only set, but energized, as John was just saying on your show. You've never seen the level of excitement, energy and love for your country that you're seeing in Washington, D.C. It's just going to grow exponentially.

KING: You don't know how many people are coming, right?

FENTY: No one will tell me how many people are coming, but we've prepared for millions. And if anybody could fill up the Mall, it's Barack Obama.

KING: Yeah, he can.

FENTY: You know what I mean? If anybody can.

KING: The "Washington Post" Columnist Eugene Robinson wrote that he ran into you a couple of weeks ago and you asked, "Got any place you can park some tour busses?" Is that true?

FENTY: I asked him. It was in jest because we have a pretty good plan to park thousands of tour busses. This is a logistical challenge to bring this many people in through parking, traffic, on the Mall. Even just bathrooms and jumbotrons are probably setting some kind of Guinness Book of World Records.

But we've got it all ironed out. So hopefully everything -- it just goes according to plan. And Barack Obama can give a great speech on Tuesday and motivate the country the way he's been doing.

KING: There are similarities between you and Barack Obama. You've heard this before, black father, white mother.

FENTY: Sure.

KING: Age group coming up the -- how do you view him? What's your read on him?

FENTY: Well, you know, I kind of read him as the -- someone who has it all. He's got the personality. He's got the intelligence. His work ethic is unbelievable, having spent two years out on the campaign trail.

And he's captured the imagination of the American people. Most people, I think, that I know, don't want to be divided anymore. And he's said, I'm going to speak to Republicans and Democrats, to people from the west and from the east. And I think that's what got him that mandate that John Legend talked about. People want to say we're all in the same boat together. That's how we're going to fix problems.

KING: You're going to host an inaugural bash, right?

FENTY: We'll have a bash with Pete and the Fallout Boys tomorrow. Plenty of bashes in Washington, D.C.

KING: Where is yours?

FENTY: 9:30 club, tomorrow night. It should be fun. Come by.

KING: If we can move around the town. Are you going to be in a seat of honor at the inaugural?

FENTY: Yes, seated with the other leaders of state, if you will. D.C. is not a state, but the 50 governors and the mayor of the District of Columbia sit together.

KING: You think you'll be a state?

FENTY: I think with Barack Obama we will move a lot forward. I think we're going to get full voting rights for our House member, which has never happened in the 200-year history of the city. He's expressed his full support. He understands we pay federal taxes and we should have a full vote in Congress.

KING: There was a deal where supposedly Utah was going to get a Congressman and you would get statehood.

FENTY: Right. And Barack Obama when he was United States Senator voted for that on United States Senate floor. It fell three votes short but we picked up some votes in Congress this year.

KING: Any advice to the public planning to face the cold and the crowds? Any good tips?

FENTY: Yeah. I would just say be prepared to stand in long lines. Dress warmly. And try and plan, if you can. There's a lot of web sites that have good information about what route to take, where to park. Try not to bring a private vehicle in, because if you can take a bus or taxi, that's one less parking spot that you need in the city.

But go to web sites. Go to or any other that has good information.


FENTY:, the official government web site. It will take you to the presidential inaugural committee. It takes you to the park police, the capitol police, anything you want.

KING: Great pleasure finally meeting you.

FENTY: My pleasure. Yeah, thanks for your work.

KING: Adrian Fenty, the mayor of the District of Columbia.

Let's turn it over to David Theall for what's happening on the blog -- David?

DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Larry, listen, here's what we're doing on the blog. We're tracking this question,, what does this inauguration mean to you? We're getting is a pretty good cross-section in comments.

Somebody that dropped by was Jill. Jill says, "The inauguration means to me, not only change but a new generation of acceptance and open minds."

We also heard from Irene, who says, "Hopefully, this means that the racial barrier has come down. It is time to live the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. talked about and died for."

Now, Larry, I talked to you about that cross-section that we're getting. Blake is somebody who has a point counter to Jill and Irene.

Says Blake, "I am so tired of hearing about how special this is." Says he, "I voted for Obama, but I'm over all this hype about the man and his inauguration."

We're going to continue the conversation, as we always do, tonight. King, look for the blog link. Click it. Come on in, join the conversation.

KING: Thanks, David.

I'm hitting the streets and taking Washington's pulse. Join me in 60 seconds.


KING: You don't have to be here to know that everybody is talking about the inauguration. wherever you go, people have something to say.

I went to a great Washington hot spot, "Busboys & Poets." It's a restaurant. Take a look.


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

Explain this place to me.

ANDY, OWNER, BUSBOYS & 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?

ANDY: It did. It did.

KING: I mean, in the Washington are.

Langston Hughes, this is a tribute to him?

ANDY: 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 ten 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' just a few days before the inaugural. Supposing it's as cold as it is today.

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


KING: No doubt about it, Washington's the place. Now is the time.

We're going to talk politics right after this.


KING: Welcome back to this special Saturday live edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

Three distinguished journalists join us. Douglas Brinkley, is the presidential historian, best-selling author, contributor of "Vanity Fair;" Jeff Johnson, managing editor and chief correspondent for "The Truth with Jeff Johnson" on BET; and Roland Martin, CNN's own political analyst and top radio talk show host as well.

Douglas, as a historian, has there ever been, black aside, a candidate like this?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN & AUTHOR, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, VANITY FAIR: No. He's a phenom. I mean, you have to go back -- if you take somebody like John F. Kennedy people are talking about right now in 1960, but, remember, Eisenhower could have won a third term. That the country was 50-50 in 1960 for Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy. He's coming in with a mandate and his speeches are drawing crowds wherever he went in 2008 -- unprecedented.

Theodore Roosevelt actually comes the closest to creating a kind of carnival atmosphere when he would speak. Where T.R. would go, he'd routinely get 30,000, 40,000 people.

I think there's nothing quite like Barack Obama as an inspirational speaker, as president.

Jeff, how about his personality? It seems unwavering.

JEFF JOHNSON, MANAGING EDITOR & CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, THE TRUTH WITH JEFF JOHNSON: It does. He's able to seem contained but simultaneously engaging. That's a difficult thing to do when you never seem to lose your cool. You always seem to be under control but, at the same time, always very genuine.

As a journalist, when I interviewed him very early in the campaign, one ever the things I liked to look at is how is someone two minutes before those lights go on and how are they during the interview. He never seemed to change. There was always, this is who I am.

KING: Would you agree, Roland, to describe him as well within himself?


KING: What do you mean?

MARTIN: What I mean by that is an assassin has to be calm, cool and collected no matter what takes place. If things are falling down around them, they stay focused. They are going to take their target analogies. Just to use basketball analogies, I mean, he's a guy that wants the ball when there's five seconds left. You look at a Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, that's the kind of guy he is.

It's amazing -- I remember when they lost in Ohio. It was interesting, because he had a big meeting with his staff. They spent $20 million. And he said, now, you know I'm not angry, but we spent $20 million and lost. The folks sat there in the room were like -- they couldn't tell -- OK, is he really angry? You also know a person is really angry when they're extremely calm. He's amazing like that. And I think you need that to be able to understand all the issues that are affecting the country at one given time.

KING: The other night, Douglas, someone compared to Tiger Woods. Fair? BRINKLEY: I think it's fair to the focus he has. There's an inner Zen-like quality. I understand the assassin part, but this is someone who seems to me to carrying an aura about him, like Nelson Mandela. And it's on a global scale. He seems to be -- he's not just a global celebrity. He seems to be communicating with people everywhere.

And we underestimate how important talking to people is. We just come out of a presidency, where President Bush, whatever you think of him, was not a speaker, not a good communicator. This guy is.

MARTIN: He has studied Ronald Reagan immensely. There was a lot of criticism when he was in Nevada, when he talked about Reagan. He talked about him being a transformative figure.

Here what he understands about Reagan. Near in 2008, we talk about Reagan revolution. What Obama wants to do, he wants to create an Obama revolution. You hear him talk about "we." On the night of the election, when he won, here is the "we," used the word "we" 47 times. He wants to drive people to build momentum around issues. Reagan -- he wants people to talk 29 years later to talk about an Obama revolution.

KING: Does that mean, Jeff, 29 years later, we are giving him a lot of slack?



JOHNSON: No. I think that America is excited about the change that's going to come. But America is needy. I think people are waiting for this inauguration. They are excited about it. They're on baited breath. They're celebrating together all over the world.

KING: But?

JOHNSON: But as soon as the party is over, domestically and internationally, people want to see some things happen quickly.

MARTIN: That's why he's challenging the people, Larry. He's been saying, this is not about me. You are a part of this. He is forcing people to accept actability. This whole issue with the economic crisis in America, a lot of it has to do with Americans being too much consumers, too much debt, credit cards. So we have to accept responsibility. He's saying we can't talk about you want eco-friendly cars, if you're sitting here driving all the time.

JOHNSON: He's also setting the expectation, to say wait a minute, I know we promised a great deal, but it's going to take some time.

KING: Expect a great speech Tuesday?

BRINKLEY: Oh, you know, he hits it over the fence every time. Obama's money in the bank for giving that speech. You know he's got the perfect speech writers. I'm sure he's done a lot of it himself. And it's going to be one of the speeches that I think people will be listening too, like the Kennedy inauguration.

JOHNSON: He's going to feed off the moment too. We'll see that.

KING: We will be back with more, with Douglas Brinkley, Jeff Johnson and Roland Martin. Don't go away.


KING: Jeff, you're a journalist, but you're also back.

JOHNSON: A little bit, yeah.


BRINKLEY: I couldn't tell.



KING: I'm a keen observer.


KING: What does it mean for you?

JOHNSON: To be African-American, I mean, speaks to a great deal of history for this great deal for this country. It speaks to...

KING: But to you? In you, what does it mean?

JOHNSON: Pride. Pride in the connection to the continent of Africa. Pride to a rich history that had a great deal of owe possession but also a great deal of triumph, a connection to being able to make something of out nothing, and understanding what it means to -- for excellence, to be a mandate and not an option. And then embracing the fantastic tapestry that makes any culture what it is. There's not this one monolithic African-American community that I'm a part of, but a very diverse one that I'm very proud of.

KING: Well said.

What does it mean to you, Roland?

MARTIN: I shed tears on election night, because I said, I have nice nieces and four nephews, and for years, African-Americans frankly have lied to their children when they said, you can anything you want in this country. They thought there was one thing they can could never do and become president of the United States. So I can look my nieces and nephews in the eye and say, for a fact, that you can actually obtain that particular job. And that's why I think you saw the level of emotion.

And people have asked me, well, how are you going to react when he is sworn in. Because I'm going to be thinking about those slaves that put those steps that he's walking. I'm going to be thinking about that the house that he's going to be living in was built by individuals who could not even vote in this country.

When you imagine that imagery in terms of slaves building this city, and for the first time, an African-American being representative of this country, that is stunning and amazing.

KING: As a white man, what does it mean to you?

BRINKLEY: Well, I don't think of myself solely as a white man, but what it means to me a lot is, I keep thinking of Martin Luther King, because I teach at Rice University and I do history classes.

MARTIN: He's just...

BRINKLEY: And you think of it, Monday will be Martin Luther King Day. People are going to be talking and playing that loop of "I had a dream." And that connection of a dream that, from King to Obama, seems to be very powerful.

Also I have been thinking a lot about Muhammad Ali lately, how Cassius Clay becoming Ali and all of the ground and pioneering ground Muhammad Ali brought to the world, because there was a time in the 70s and 80s, Muhammad Ali was the most beloved person in the world. And he was from the...


KING: And the best known.

BRINKLEY: And the best known. And I think he should be brought into the narrative a bit, Ali.

MARTIN: Also today is his birthday. Something is happening Monday on CNN. We will actually be carrying Dr. King's speech in its entirety. That hasn't been done quite some time. It's going to get 12 minutes, a 17-minute speech.

One thing that's interesting about that speech -- I hope people will listen to the entire speech. Because we always talk about the "I have a Dream" part. But if you ever read the beginning of -- the top two- thirds of that speech, he's talking about the economic realities, and that I the haves and the have-nots, when he said America will get -- after America's checks stamped insufficient funds.

So when you look at celebrating Dr. King and Obama being sworn in, that speaks to today different classes of people, people being broke, folks not having jobs.

KING: And King told me in an interview once that his -- the person he looked to the most as a great civil rights leaders is Jackie Robinson.

JOHNSON: Absolutely, and...

KING: Who forged a path that most people thought would never happen.

JOHNSON: But you mentioned earlier, Mandela. I think the greatest comparison that I have seen with Obama, there has never been an elected official that has had more global appeal since Nelson Mandela than Obama. And there's been no country that was so excited about the potential change that was going to come from a national leader than Mandela.

Decades later, we see, in any case, that the change that they wanted to come didn't come to South African. So I think there's a real prophetic look here that the people of the United States have to support him and use their capacity to help Obama in a way that, in many cases, South Africans weren't able to, for that real dream and promised to be realized.

KING: Will you all be there?



MARTIN: I wouldn't miss it for the world.

KING: It's going to be some day. Difficult for reporters to -- how do you -- what do you write the next day?

BRINKLEY: Well, I think what it's mainly going to be is how people are going to be taking -- I am looking forward to the photography of all this. I saw tonight on the train these great photos and your previous interview with people on the train. A mythology is starting to be born, as we're hearing.

I think someday, wherever Obama gave a major speech, there will be a plaque because he's so good at it.


KING: Thank you all. We're out of time.

MARTIN: It's been an awesome day.

KING: Tonight's show is extra-special for us. Our good friend and colleague to Todd Sperry is back at work. Todd had a minor medical scare, but he's back now and he's better than ever. We sure missed him, and we wish him continued good health.

We're back tomorrow with another roster of great guests tomorrow, including Stevie Wonder, Ashford and Simpson, and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

What does the inauguration of Barack Obama mean to you? Go to, click in and blog and tell us.

Time now for "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News."