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CNN Live Event/Special

Four-Day Inaugural Event Begins

Aired January 17, 2009 - 10:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The inauguration of President Barack Obama, it's a four-day event and it starts right now. The president- elect getting ready to leave Philadelphia. He'll be on a Whistle-Stop Tour, a train ride from Philadelphia through Wilmington, Delaware, where he'll pick up the vice president-elect, Joe Biden, continue on to Baltimore. And finally, later this evening, arriving at Union Station, right here in the nation's capital.
You're looking at live pictures of Capitol Hill right now, where on Tuesday, at noon Eastern, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

This is where we are right now, the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, right down the street from Capitol Hill.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting, together with the best political team on television.

Soledad O'Brien is here on this roof with us as well.

Welcome, Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: John King is here. And Roland Martin is going to be here as well.

And you're dressed appropriately, Roland, because it's a little brisk out there.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. What the hell am I doing sitting out here, Wolf? What are we doing?

BLITZER: It's a lovely shot, and I want to alert our viewers who may be concerned about us right now. Soledad and John can confirm this. We have heaters here. We're warm, we're toasty, but Roland is from Texas, so he gets a little nervous.

MARTIN: I've got my Stetson.

BLITZER: Those of us, Roland, ,who grew up in Buffalo, New York; this is a balmy, beautiful day in the nation's capital. Look at that sunshine.

MARTIN: My mama said, "Don't you walk outside without a hat on." So I've got my hat on right now.

BLITZER: All right. Well, your mom is very smart. Thanks very much.

Soledad, let's set the scene for our viewers right now, what is about to happen, because it all begins within a few moments in Philadelphia.

O'BRIEN: It really does. And what has been amazing to watch has been to see the president-elect as he has reached out backwards to Lincoln, to really not only form his entire message, but to recreate, in a lot of ways, the exact train trip that President-elect Lincoln took as he came in 1861 to his inauguration.

So it underscores the themes of the inauguration, renewing America's promise, reaching back again and again and again, as he has done during the campaign and, of course, in the wake of the campaign, to underscore his connection to President Lincoln. And also reaching out to a transformative experience, as Lincoln was on the cusp of that as he was coming in as president, as Barack Obama has consistently underscored in the interview he did with you the other day.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And there's great historical purpose in doing that, tying yourself to Lincoln, an image of unity. And guess what? It works perfectly for the moment as well, because when he's on the steps of that Capitol a couple of days from now and he becomes president, yes, he has good will; yes, he has enormous popularity. And in your travels, you meet people who say, "I didn't vote for him, but I wish him the best. And I hope this works."

Good will to him, and good will because of the dire economic straits the country is in. And he needs unity of purpose, because even as he assumes the presidency with all this good will, people don't like these bailouts. They're worried about the economy. They're not sure about -- sure, spend some money on a stimulus plan, but is it really going to work or are we just going to be printing up money in Washington and running up the national debt?

So people are behind him, but there are some big question marks about the state of the country, the state of the economy, and some of his policies. So the unity message in the pre-inaugural ceremonies and imagery we will see over the next few days is very important to building that good will.

BLITZER: We're going to show our viewers, Roland, the route that he's going to be taking -- Tom Foreman, we're going to go there in a moment.

But you know what's been amazing? Is to see, despite the chilly weather -- and it's, what, about 10 or 15 degrees outside -- despite all of that, people are coming into Washington, D.C., from all around the country. Indeed, I ran into this morning some folks from around the world. They're coming in because they just want to be able to say, "I was in Washington, D.C., when Barack Obama was sworn in as president of the United States." MARTIN: I was talking to one lady, and she said, "Look, I'm going to watch this thing from the hotel bar." I said, "No, you're not." I said, "Because you know 10 years from now, when you're sitting around talking, and they're going to say, "Man, I was there on the Mall in Washington," and I said, "What is your story going to be?" "Well, I was sitting in that comfy bar watching on television."

I said, "No. You have people who want to be there."

Talk to anybody who had an opportunity to be at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. They will always say, "Man, I wish I had gone." I have talked to many people who said, "I wish I had gone to the Million Man March in 1995." They're saying, "I want to be there."

They don't care if they're going to be standing five blocks away. They want to be able to say, "I was in the vicinity of that inauguration" because it is so historical.

But also, people are going to be feeding off of one another, because, you know, it is certainly a unifying moment, because I can tell you, covering the Million Man March, standing there, looking back from the Capitol, and just watching so many people, you want to be able to see that image of black and white, Hispanic, Asian, male, female, adults and kids, because that says, frankly, that this indeed is America and this is an American moment, not just one for Washington, D.C.

BLITZER: And they're expecting perhaps a million, two million, three million. We don't know. And local authorities, including police, they don't know how many people will be here. But we know one thing, it's going to be a lot of people.

I want Tom Foreman to go through the map and take the route, show us this Whistle-Stop Tour that this train ride is going to take from Philadelphia, starting in a little while, Tom, and winding its way to Washington, D.C.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, this may be the first indication we have of how big the crowds are going to be, because people are expected all along this historic route.

Yes, starting up here in Philadelphia with the big event there that's going to last for about an hour or so. Then they'll actually board and get under way, Mr. Obama, his family, his children, and about 50 of these invited guests, special people who worked on the campaign who have special meaning to them. They'll get on the train here, and they'll ride down here.

When they cross into Delaware, they're going to slow down a little bit in a town called Claymont. It's going to be called the "slow roll" as they go through so people can wave and see the president-elect and his family as they wave and say hello there.

Then down to Wilmington. This is where Joe Biden lives, his vice president, who's been commuting for more than 30 years, from here to Washington, D.C., on this train line.

Mr. Biden's going to join him there. They'll have another big event.

One of the guests at this point, by the way, will be the conductor who drove Mr. Biden back and forth all of these years. A very exciting time for them.

Then they're going to roll south again, right here. Look at this corner. This is an important historic mark. It was for Lincoln and it will be for Obama, too.

That's the Mason-Dixon Line. When Lincoln crossed this line, that's when security got very serious because they detected a potential assassination plot in Baltimore. And when they passed through Baltimore with Lincoln, he actually had to go into disguise and sneak through town in the middle of night because they were afraid of what might happen to him. It will not be that way for this party traveling by train.

There will be another slow roll here in a town called Edgewood in Baltimore so he can wave to people. Then a big rally down here in Baltimore. Lots of people gathered all around.

And finally, down into historic Union Station in Washington, D.C., designed by another famous Chicagoan whose designs actually influenced the Lincoln Monument, which was built a few years later, around the early 1900s.

So this is the route. Normally, Wolf, as you know, this route will take you an hour and a half, maybe two hours, depending on how train traffic is moving that day. Today it's going to take an awful lot more, and we're going to be tracking every step of the way and showing you pictures from everything that happens.

BLITZER: It's a slow train ride from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., you're absolutely right. Normally, the Amtrak, the Acela, under two hours, but it's going to take a lot longer today because of all the various stops, the slowdowns along the way.

Let's go to Philadelphia right now. Jason Carroll is on the scene.

Set the scene for us, Jason, what we're about to see in the City of Brotherly Love.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are here at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, and basically this room is geared up and ready to hear Barack Obama speak. We're trying to get a sense of who is coming in at this point. And guess who has just walked in? The president-elect, Barack Obama, has just walked into the room now. He's meeting and greeting some of the people at the front of the room. Basically, there are about 200 people, invited guests who are here in this room, invited for various reasons, Wolf. Some of them were volunteers throughout the campaign, some of them are people who Barack Obama met. Some of them were people who he was simply touched by their personal stories.

A very special 41 people here in this room will actually get a chance to go with the Obamas, as well as the Bidens, ride along with them on that Whistle-Stop Tour that will end in Washington, D.C. Sixteen families from 15 different states, people like Mark Dowd (ph), who we spoke to a little earlier.

Let's quiet down and listen in to what's happening.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Philadelphia.

This morning, a new dawn of American leadership is journeying to Washington, D.C.

My name is Pat Styles (ph). And I'm just a mom from Parker, Colorado. I'm like so many of you. My dad's from Kansas, my mom's from Oklahoma, my brother served in the Vietnam War -- or served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. And while Ted (ph) and I have always been politically aware, this time it was important to become politically active.

For so many years, we thought we were just too busy raising our kids, trying to balance our budget with our income going down and our pension being terminated. And then the last few weeks, we had some breast cancer issues that we had to take care of. So that's behind us too.

And while we were busy trying to manage our agenda, we felt like some politicians in Washington were a bit busy managing their agendas. So I want you wonderful people to know that I am not here this morning hopeful, I am so confident -- confident that we Americans and these wonderful people are going to start listening to Americans and do what is right rather than the mindset of who is right, but what is right for our nation.


So history is going to reflect -- thank you -- right here and right now, in this home of Benjamin Franklin, that a new American leadership is emerging.

So for my husband and my kids, my family and my friends in my little town of Parker, it is such an honor to introduce my president- elect, Barack Obama.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Hello, Philadelphia!


You guys can have a seat if you want, although I won't be long.

First of all, I want to thank Pat for her energy and her enthusiasm that is infectious, and for everything that she and her family represents, what's best in America.

I also want to thank our hosts and great friends. I know you have heard from them already, the great governor of Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell.

Where is Ed?


Good to see you.

The outstanding mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter.


The senior senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter.


And a guy who is as good of a friend and as standup a guy as I have met in my travels all across the country, Bob Casey.


We are here to mark the beginning of our journey to Washington, and this is fitting, because it was here in this city that our American journey began. It was here that a group of farmers and lawyers, merchants and soldiers gathered to declare their independence and lay claim to a destiny that they were being denied.

Now, it was a risky thing, meeting as they did in that summer of 1776. There was no guarantee that their fragile experiment would find success. More than once in those early years did the odds seem insurmountable. More than once did the fishermen, laborers and craftsmen who called themselves an army face the prospect of defeat.

And yet, they were willing to put all they were and all they had on the line -- their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for a set of ideals that continue to light the world. That we are equal, that our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness come not from our laws, but from our maker. And that a government of, by and for the people can endure.


It was these ideals that led us to declare independence and craft our Constitution, producing documents that were imperfect, but had within them, like our nation itself, the capacity to be made perfect. We're here today not simply to pay tribute to our first patriots, but to take up the work that they began.

The trials we face are very different now, but they are severe in their own right. Only a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast -- an economy that's faltering; two wars, one that needs to be ended responsibly, one that needs to be waged wisely; a planet that is warming from our unsustainable dependence on oil.

And yet while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What's required is the same perseverance and idealism that our founders displayed. What's required is a new Declaration of Independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives. Independence from ideology and small thinking, independence from prejudice and bigotry, independence from selfishness. An appeal not to our easy instincts, but to our better angels.

That's the reason I launched my campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago. I did so in the belief that the most fundamental American ideal, that a better life is in store for all those people who are willing to work for it, was slipping out of reach. The belief that Washington was serving the interests of the few, and not the many, and that our politics had grown too small for the scale of the challenges we faced.

But I also believed something else. I believed that our future is our choice, and that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, North, South, East, West, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native-American, gay and straight, and disabled, then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearn for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.


This is what I believed. But you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it.

And as I prepare to leave for Washington on a trip that you made possible, know that I will not be traveling alone. I'll be taking with me some of the men and women I met along the way, Americans from every corner of this country whose hopes and heartaches were the core of our cause, whose dreams and struggles have become my own.

Theirs is the voices I will carry with me every day in the White House. Theirs are the stories I will be thinking about when we deliver the changes you elected me to make.

When Americans are returning to work and sleeping easier at night knowing their jobs are secure and their children's future is secure, I'll be thinking about people like Mark Dowd (ph), who worried his job at Ford would be the next one cut, a devastating prospect with teenaged daughters he has back home. When affordable health care is no longer something we hope for, but is something we can count on, I'll be thinking of working moms like Chandra Jackson (ph), who was diagnosed with an illness and is now burdened with higher medical bills, on top of childcare for her 11-year-old son.

When we're welcoming back our loved ones from a war in Iraq that we've brought to an end, I'll be thinking of our brave men and women sacrificing around the world.


I'll be thinking about veterans like Tony Fisher (ph), who served two tours in Iraq, and all of those returning home who are unable to find a job.

These are the stories that will drive me in the days ahead. They are different stories, told by men and women whose journeys may seem separate. And yet, what all of you showed me time and time again is that no matter who we are or what we look like, no matter where we come from or what faith we practice, we are a common -- we are a people of common hopes and common dreams who ask only for what was promised us as Americans, that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we do.

We recognize that such enormous challenges that we face today will not be solved quickly. There will be false starts and setbacks, there will be frustrations and disappointments. And we will be called to show patience, even as we act with fierce urgency. But we should never forget that we are the heirs of that first band of patriots. We are the heirs of those who declared independence, ordinary men and women who refused to give up when it all seemed so improbable, and who somehow believed that they had the power to make the world anew.

That's the spirit that we must reclaim today, for the American Revolution did not end when the British guns fell silent. It was never something to be won only on a battlefield or fulfilled only in our founding documents. It was not simply a struggle to break free from empire and declare independence. The American Revolution was and remains an aon going struggle in the minds and hearts of the people to live up to our founding creed.

So starting now, let's take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our union. Let's build a government that's responsible to the people. Let's accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable.

Let all of us do our part to rebuild this country. Let's make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but just the beginning.


Join me in this effort, join one another in this effort. And together, mindful of our proud history and hopeful for the future, let's seek a better world in our time.

Thank you, Philadelphia. Love you guys. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: There he is, Barack Obama, the president-elect of the United States, and Michelle Obama. She, by the way, is celebrating her 45th birthday today. And I'm sure there will be several references to that in the course of this day. That was the first of at least three speeches that the president-elect will be delivering on this day.

Anderson Cooper is here in a brisk, balmy Washington, D.C., as well, just got in from New York.

Anderson, a nice train ride on this Saturday.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, and he'll be speaking, probably a shorter address, in Wilmington, Delaware, which is where Senator Joseph Biden will -- or Vice President-elect Biden will get on the train as well. And also speaking in Baltimore.

BLITZER: And then eventually showing up not far away, less than a mile from here, Union Station in Washington, D.C.

All right. I want to take a quick break, because we have got a long, but beautiful and historic day coming up here on CNN.

COOPER: But emphasis on long.

BLITZER: Long. Well, it's going to be exciting. You know, it's all relative, Anderson. It's going to zip right by, believe me.

COOPER: Never have so many watch one train.

BLITZER: Yes, but it's historic and it's important, and I think viewers not only in the United States, but around the world will enjoy what they're about to see.

The inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama will continue from the nation's capital right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

This is a map of the route that you're going to be seeing Barack Obama taking with Michelle Obama. They're getting ready to leave Philadelphia within the next few moments, heading on to Wilmington, Delaware, where they'll pick up the vice president-elect, Joe Biden, and his wife, Jill Biden.

Then they'll continue from Wilmington to Baltimore. The president-elect will be speaking in Wilmington and in Baltimore, and then arriving around 7:00 p.m. Eastern Tonight -- at least that's according to the tentative schedule -- in Washington, D.C., at Union Station.

As we look at this, Anderson, I want to alert our viewers that Candy Crowley is aboard that train, and we'll be seeing her live reports coming in. We've got some new technology that's going to help us do that.

COOPER: We also have correspondents stationed all across the train route and all across Washington, D.C. So we really have this thing covered. We're going to be on the air all throughout the evening, all the way until the train arrives here in Union Station.

And you can hear I think a band practicing behind us.

BLITZER: They're practicing. They're getting ready.

COOPER: It is amazing, the excitement, which already is kind of -- I mean, I just literally flew in this morning, and people on the plane coming down were taking photographs with each other, almost as if -- sort of wanting to document every step of the way of their journey to Washington just like Barack Obama's journey to Washington.

KING: It's a good time to be in the memorabilia business. I flew in from Cleveland this morning on a very early flight. You think you're going to arrive at the airport at 7:00 and it's going to be empty. It was packed. It was out of Dulles airport.

And so many people came off the flight and went into the newsstands which has all the inaugural memorabilia outside, snatching up T-shirts and coffee mugs, not even left the airport and they're in the mood. So it is an interesting time in the city. It's an important time for the transition of power, but it's also a party and a celebration.

MARTIN: Obama is doing his best to save this economy. They have stuck his name on key chains, refrigerator magnets. I mean, I don't care what it is, if there's anything with his name on it, they're buying it.

Yes. Somebody just gave me this last night because they said -- they created their own lapel pins.

I mean, it's amazing. I don't care where you go in the country.

Now, you have the official people who pay sales taxes for the stuff. Then there are those, of course, who have this stuff -- the street vendors who are in the cash business.

BLITZER: It's an economic stimulus.


BLITZER: And when Anderson says people are taking pictures, snapping, they want to be part of history, they want to record anything. With the new technology and the mobile phones and everything else, that whole system could be jammed up pretty soon.

O'BRIEN: I've got to tell you, I was taking Amtrak down from New York with Beyonce, and she's rolling on -- Beyonce rolling into...

MARTIN: Were you like sitting next to Beyonce?


O'BRIEN: Yes, Beyonce and I were hanging out. Well, you know, I shared it with her.

But even her folks are documenting what it's going to be like for Beyonce to be part of the presidential celebration. I mean, so it's an amazing thing. It's one of those moments of, where are you? Where did you stand?

COOPER: There's probably about 200 people right now.

BLITZER: Roland, he's documenting this right now even as we're speaking.

MARTIN: Hey, Anderson...

COOPER: There's probably about 200 people right now who are on the train who are saying the exact same thing on their phones to their friends, like, "I was on the train with Beyonce and Soledad O'Brien."

O'BRIEN: They were not this close to Beyonce.


BLITZER: All right. You know what I want to do? I want to go back to Philadelphia, the train station there. We just heard the president-elect speaking there.

Jason Carroll is our man on the scene.

Jason, you have a pretty special guest that you've lined up for us?

CARROLL: A very special guest. Here's what happened. I want to introduce you to 6-year-old Victor and his father. This is actually Victor Jr. They've positioned themselves so Victor could get in there and actually shake the hand of the president-elect.

Victor, what was it like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was really fun and it was really crowded out there.

CARROLL: Yes, it was very crowded; wasn't it?

Let me talk to you, Victor Sr.

What was the strategy in getting your son up there so he could get a handshake?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we were trying to get him close enough and trying to get a picture with the president-elect. And ultimately, a wonderful woman picked him up and held him up over the crowd, and he got shake the president's hand.

CARROLL: So Victor, what was it like? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it wasn't -- I already shaked his hand the first time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I gave him...

CARROLL: The fist bump? There you go. Good enough.

All right. Victor, Victor Jr., thank you so very, very much. Really appreciate it.

Just an example of how excited some of the people who are out here, Wolf. And to what lengths they will do just to get a handshake with the future president.

Back to you.


BLITZER: All right, Jason. Thanks very much.

I think Victor Jr. is going to be excited, going to remember that the rest of his life.

COOPER: Absolutely.

BLITZER: And everybody who gets that close to President-elect Barack Obama is going to be excited.

COOPER: And one of the things is, no one really knows how many people are going to be, A, coming to Washington, and also sort of lining this train route throughout the day. I mean, it's been a problem for authorities, who are trying to sort of organize security and everything else.

Just the train route, I think they think about a million people turned out for RFK when his coffin was departed from Washington on a train. And they're kind of using that as a marker. But that was during the summer, a lot of people out on the train route. There's really no telling how many people this time there are going to be.


MARTIN: People who are not coming here have an opportunity to participate in this whole experience, because like you said, they may say, "I can't get to Washington, D.C., couldn't get a hotel room," but they'll even remember these particular moments as well.

And the thing about is, the reality is, not only has he inspired so many people, but when you recognize the fact, he is the first African-American president, the bottom line is, if there's a second, that person will simply be the second. You will never get past this particular moment.

And so it's just -- and I am glad to see people truly taking a part of this.

And Soledad, you were talking about the speeches of Obama and all the different themes, patriots and the different cities, and freedom. And it has renewed so many people in this whole notion of American history, people going back, studying Lincoln, studying other presidents. And so it's been an amazing experience for the last couple of months.

O'BRIEN: His speeches are always very erudite. I mean, his speeches are really a lesson in American history.

And the last time that he was talking in Philadelphia, really talking about those band of patriots who are farmers, who got it together and were able to hash out the Declaration of Independence, he was giving that all-important speech on race in Philadelphia. And he started the exact same way -- let me take you back to our history, that this is where the ball has been dropped. And those patriots knew there was a promise in America, and I am the end of that ark of promise. And we all need to march forward.

I mean, he keeps sort of passing that -- you know, showing where the baton has been passed over time.

COOPER: Today's the day, no doubt, rich in history, as the next several days are. And we'll talk a lot about that and the traditions of this inauguration week in the hours ahead.

And a lot more coverage ahead. Stay tuned. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: All right. We want to welcome back our viewers in the United States and around the world.

What a beautiful shot of the U.S. Capitol.

A chilly day here in Washington, D.C., but a lovely and sunny day, Anderson, as we get ready, eventually, in a few hours, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, approximately, the president-elect and the entire entourage will be arriving at Union Station.

We were talking a lot about security, and security, as all of us know -- and I have been in Washington a long time -- is very intense right now. It always is during an inauguration, but this time it seems a little bit more intense. I'm sure you have noticed since you've gotten here.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, not just in Washington, D.C., but, I mean, I think one of the big security challenges, certainly of this weekend, is this train ride.

I mean, this train ride, more than 130 miles of train route. There's overpasses, there's businesses along the route. So there are unique security challenges that the Secret Service faces. The Secret Service in charge of overall security for all of these events. Tom Foreman is actually standing by with kind of a look at the security apparatus that has been assembled. I think 40 different law enforcement agencies along this route. A lot of different government municipalities.

Tom, what have you learned?

FOREMAN: A huge, huge force out there, Anderson. You're absolutely right.

Starting off in Philadelphia, obviously a big, big city with a lot of things going on there. I'm going to show you specifically where they are as they began today.

This is the train station right down here. This is where they're beginning this amazing journey, and it is going to be quite a journey as they take off here from Philly.

I'm going to widen this out a little bit, and then we're going to go down to the actual route and take a look at what they're doing.

This is the train route, again, we have been showing you all the way down like this. But all along the way, you're absolutely right, they're going to have, first of all, ground forces, lots of police, along with Secret Service, and that sort or thing, all along the route. More than 40 different groups are going to be gathered here, running right alongside the train tracks, keeping track of what could be as many as a million spectators out to watch this.

Overhead, the FAA has a moving corridor of closed air space which extends miles in all directions. They'll have monitors up there, people to keep track of everything that's going on above this.

Commercial airliners won't be affected because they're flying so high, that that airspace is not restricted. But any kind of private planes are going to get nowhere near this train, if people thought they could fly in and look at it.

Out in the water, the Coast Guard is going to have boats out here patrolling to make sure that nobody gets closer than 500 yards to this train. And if you ride this route, it passes over an awful lot of areas of water.

Just at the same time, they're going to have monitors along the line to detect biological threats, chemical threats, radiological threats up in front of the train. What they're really building here is a zone of protection. We sort of laid it out here.

Look at this. It's like a moving tunnel that they will have that will go all the way into D.C., so at any moment, the train will be going right down the middle of that, and that's what's going to keep Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden safe as they travel.

It's big, it's all the way around the train, protecting every movement. And it's moving with them. So as you said, a big challenge if you're going to get all the way down here as you make the flight all the way into Washington, D.C., by the time they show up there at 7:00 tonight -- Anderson, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's amazing when you think about it, the security, the nightmare for so many local, state, federal law enforcement personnel. The U.S. Secret Service right on top of it, doing an excellent job, as they always do.

COOPER: It's interesting. You look back in history, too, I mean, Abraham Lincoln had huge security concerns as he took this same train trip, especially through slave states in Virginia and Maryland. I think in Baltimore, was it, that they actually kind of had to sneak through Baltimore, not announcing the arrival of the train because of concerns for his safety. And he was protected...

O'BRIEN: Nowhere near...


O'BRIEN: But same exact issue, in fact. I mean, assassination fears, certainly. The safety was a really big deal. And of course, you know, it was at the time where he was hoping to stave off civil war. You had states that were thinking about seceding from the union. I mean, there was a lot of controversy, a lot of anger in the country, a big concern.

COOPER: Yes. Baltimore, Maryland, a hotbed of secessionist activity.

O'BRIEN: Right. Right on the border there, so they were very, very concerned.

And they were only looking at a crowd of 30,000 people who came out to hear his inauguration speech. And who knows?


O'BRIEN: Yes, that is. That's not even a speech. That's just a fund-raiser.


KING: The scope of the event is just beyond comprehension, and that's what causes such concern of the security people. If you bring more than a million people to Washington, D.C., maybe two million, or more than that, they also -- no tickets on the Mall. Anyone can come to the Mall.

The Secret Service likes ticketed events, magnetometers and security sweeps to that they can check everybody. Now, obviously, the more far back you are, the safer it is.

But you have to tip your hat. A lot of people will complain about the security hassles and the road closures. Consider the challenges of the Security Service right now.

The first African-American president. And sadly, there are haters out there. And the risk to Barack Obama goes up simply because of that.

Plus, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are leaving office. They have been, of course, the president and vice president since 9/11. They are considered prime targets for an al Qaeda or some terrorist attack as they leave office. So the Secret Service having to deal with the departing president and vice president, and that specific, possible threat, as well as they deal with the new administration coming in.

So, Wolf and I have covered the White House for a long time, we have worked with them. They have a tough job to do. And sometimes they do inconvenience people, but I tip my hat to them every day.

COOPER: There's also just the question of, how many people are actually going to come to Washington, D.C., to witness this historic day? They really do not know. I mean, there are -- the estimates are really all over the place.

BLITZER: Right, one to four million. But the important thing is...

MARTIN: They're also saying three to five million.

BLITZER: ... if you're planning on coming, just be patient, because it's going to take a while to even walk a couple of city blocks.

COOPER: And they say have a plan. Don't just think you can kind of drive with the kids, you know, to come down.


COOPER: You've got to have a plan, you've got to know the routes, you have to really prepare this like a major trip.

BLITZER: And I just want to alert our viewers who are still thinking of coming to Washington, D.C., it's cold here. So make sure you dress warmly, especially the kids. Make sure they have, you know, very, very good clothing and feet protection, because it's chilly out there.

COOPER: We, of course, will be giving you a front row seat. So if you want to just stay at home and cuddle up by the fire and the TV, feel free to stick with us.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley is on that train, is getting ready to leave Philadelphia right now.

Candy, go ahead and tell us what it's like. You've got some -- you're in the press car, is that right?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, there's three or four press cars. It's not a place for the claustrophobic, I can tell you that. But there are absolutely about 90 press people, as far as we can count.

There's 50 friends of Barack Obama, people he's met along the way who have stories. You heard him mention that in that speech.

He will, as you mentioned, have some slowdowns, two stops. And we are going to hear basically what you heard here in Philadelphia earlier, because this is not just a march through history -- and they certainly want the Lincolnesque sort of symbolism to catch on -- but this is also a way to roll into Washington and try to keep that enthusiasm that Barack Obama saw on the campaign trail.

Because there are so many tough times ahead, that the themes he wants to hit here are not just, we need to get that spirit of patriotism, and we need to go back to what our forefathers believed in, and the freedom. It's also what he said at the end of his speech, which was, let's make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but the beginning.

So it's this sort of commonality, I'm going to need you. And certainly he is, even if out there they are not people who vote on Capitol Hill, they are certainly people who can pressure Capitol Hill. And as he looked ahead and talked about the frustrations and the setbacks that are coming, he wants this train ride to kind of begin that role and say, listen, I know the election is over, but you've got to stick with me because I need it.

So it's a dual trip, a little history and certainly pushing very hard for the future.

BLITZER: And we're going to continue to check back with Candy throughout this train ride, getting ready to leave Philadelphia, with continuing service on to Wilmington, Delaware, where they'll pick up the vice president-elect. And then to Baltimore, eventually winding up in Washington, D.C.

It's going to be a long day, but as I say, an historic day and an exciting day here in Washington, as we get ready to continue our coverage of the inauguration of the president-elect of the United States.


COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Obama Express, as it's called, which is just about to leave a Philadelphia station, heading for Wilmington, Delaware, and then Baltimore, and, of course, Washington, D.C. And we are going to be covering it all today here from our vantage point, overlooking the U.S. Capitol.

Dana Bash is down on the Mall. Let's check with her on the brisk Saturday morning -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brisk, I think that is the understatement of the day, as you well know, sitting up there on top of the Newseum.

You know, it's very interesting standing here on the Mall. All I keep thinking about is the fact that this is going to be such a different feel. As you can see, it's empty behind me, and there's nobody here, but you definitely do see people coming in, trying to kind of get a sense of things, some people who are local, some people who are coming from far away. But you see that Capitol behind me, and obviously from my perch in covering Congress, it has been already, Anderson, fascinating to see how the Obama dynamic has changed things in Congress.

And even just this past week, in terms of what he knows he needs to do, which is, first and foremost, fix the economy, how hard he really had to push to get his very first win that he did get. And that is $350 billion more taxpayer dollars for a bailout for the financial sector.

And the dynamic up there for the past couple of days has been really interesting, to see the tug of war, really internally inside the Democratic Party. Do we give Barack Obama that very important thing for him in terms of fixing the economy, or do we listen to our constituents back home? That is, I think, a dynamic we're probably going to see very much over the next several months as they try to figure out how to give him what he wants, the tools that he says he needs, but also try to kind of temper expectations in terms of this enormous task ahead -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dana, you know, there are a lot of folks watching right now who are trying to decide whether or not to come to Washington, D.C., for this inauguration. If you could, from the vantage point you have right now, just give a sense of where the inaugural address is going to be given. I mean, where are you in relation to it, and where would people fill out, where would people actually be standing?

BASH: OK, absolutely.

So I am pretty much in the middle of the Mall. And behind me is the west front of the Capitol. So behind me is exactly where Barack Obama is going to take the oath and is where he is going to be giving his speech.

So basically, if you come here to listen to it, you'll be standing, probably, if you are lucky, frankly, where I am, and you'll probably be standing more likely that way, or on the sides. But it is going to be a very, very -- excuse me, I just lost -- because of the cold, I just lost my ear piece, but it is going to be extremely, extremely crowded here.

And it is going to be something -- you know, maybe the body heat is going to keep people warm, but I will tell you, in terms of people deciding whether or not to come here, frankly, if it were me, I would probably be watching on CNN -- Anderson.

COOPER: Do you know how far people will be stretched out? I mean, from the west front of the Capitol, all the way, what, to the Lincoln Memorial?

BASH: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, basically, the Lincoln Memorial is that way. And there would be no question in my mind that there will be people stretched out to the Lincoln Memorial and beyond, if they can get here. And it is going to be absolutely packed.

You know, I was reading this morning that to be comfortable, the Mall holds about 500,000 people, and that they are expecting potentially one million to two million people. So that sort of gives you a sense of just how jam-packed this could be here. But again, given the fact that it is going to be so cold, that might not be such a bad thing, to have people huddled up close to one another.

BLITZER: All right. Dana, thanks very much.

Dana is going to be working hard over the next several days, like all of us.

Kate Bolduan is a little bit closer to the U.S. Capitol. She's also on the Mall for us.

Set the scene where you are, Kate. I know there aren't a lot of people there, but pretty soon it's going to be jam-packed.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pretty soon it's going to be jam-packed, exactly, Wolf.

We have been here since very early this morning. I have to tell you, it was quite a sight to be here on the National Mall as the sun was coming up, seeing the Capitol, where this historic swearing-in is going to be taking place.

As Dana said, we're in a space right here on the National Mall where that overflow, where up to two million people, could be showing up to try to get a glimpse of really -- of the swearing-in. But from our vantage point, as you can probably guess, there's absolutely no way you can just see the swearing-in.

They're putting up, as you can see over my shoulder, sound equipment, getting ready to put up these massive jumbo television screens. I'm told there are going to be 20-plus throughout the Mall in order for people to really get a glimpse and be part of the swearing-in.

This entire National Mall, as we've been talking about for a couple weeks now, for the first time, they're going to be opening this thing up to the public. A two-mile span opened up to try to fit all of these people in.

I would just say just in about the last hour, many people have started coming out. I spoke to a mother and a daughter from North Carolina and Las Vegas. They're here for the inauguration.

They don't have tickets to the swearing-in, but they were out here this morning with map in hand, trying to scope out, doing a little reconnaissance work, trying to figure out how to get here, what's the quickest path from the nearest metro, where they want to stand, how they can get a site. And I asked her -- I said, "Well, you're coming, but why come when you consider the frigid temperatures, as well as the fact that you're going to be so far away?" She said, "Even if I can't see it, just being amongst the people and feeling this mood of this historic moment," she said, "it's just going to be fabulous."

BLITZER: Just a lot, a lot of people want to be in Washington, D.C., when Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, even if they can't get very close to him. They just want to be able to tell their children and grandchildren, "You know what? I was there on that day."

Let's take another quick break and continue our coverage. The Obama Express getting ready to leave Philadelphia, with continuing service to Baltimore and Wilmington and Washington.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: And we are looking at the scene here in Washington, D.C., this morning.

We also want to give you a sense of the train route that Barack Obama is going to be taking, what he will be seeing over the next several hours.

Let's go to Tom Foreman, who has a preview -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Hi, Anderson.

It's a mix of scenic and not so scenic sometimes, but as we mentioned earlier, all sorts of security challenges.

This is the actual view that you have from this train as you ride, what they'll be seeing. And you can see, there are many, many places where there are overpasses, weeds, bushes, trees, quite close to the course.

You move further down, there are places where you get over water a great deal. That's presented a whole different challenge.

You go through many different stations, many places where the Coast Guard will be busy, the air cover will be busy. And then, when you get down to Baltimore in particular, you start going through a genuine urban environment.

This is what they will be seeing. Politically, an awful lot of importance here, seeing many of the people of this country, many different strata of society that Barack Obama wants to bring together. From a security standpoint, quite a challenge -- Anderson.

COOPER: No doubt about that.

Tom Foreman, thanks.

We're going to be right here, right after this break. We're going to take a quick break, and our coverage continues.

Stay tuned.


BLITZER: It's only Saturday morning, but the inauguration of the president-elect of the United States is in process. It's actually beginning right now with this train ride from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.