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The Situation Room

The Inauguration of Barack Obama

Aired January 20, 2009 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happy, happy friends inside there. There's -- there they are. You can see the daughters, the first family. They're having a little chat before some of the floats come through, before some of those marching bands stop by to entertain the president.
Let's listen in right now.


BLITZER: All right. This is the Punahou High School marching band from Honolulu, Hawaii, making its first appearance here in the inaugural parade. This marching band represents Barack Obama's former High School in Honolulu. Wow! This marching band has come a long, long way. And it's going to be performing right now for the new president of the United States, a graduate of that high school -- Gloria, wow!

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: If you were watching before, Wolf, it was clear he's enjoying...

O'BRIEN: It's sort of a nice thing...

BORGER: ...this band.

O'BRIEN: ...that both his high school is represented and also Michelle Obama's high school is represented, as well.

BORGER: Michelle. Exactly.

GERGEN: This high school gave him one of his big starts in life. They were the first rate educational institution. And he wasn't a very good student. But he went there and he got a lot more serious.

BLITZER: They traveled almost 6,000 miles to get here to participate in this historic inaugural parade. There's 142 participants. They raised, obviously, private money to do so. Founded in 1841, this high school is the largest independent kindergarten through 12th grade school in the nation. Wow, I didn't know that.


BLITZER: Did you know that, David?

GERGEN: Yes. She was -- his mom -- you know, he was living in Indonesia. And his mom sent him back to live with his grandparents in Hawaii, partly so he could go to this school. And she wanted him to get a good American -- get a good education and she obviously loved him. BLITZER: He's getting into it.

BORGER: Yes, totally.

BLITZER: He's getting into it. This is now the Whitney -- the Whitney Young Magnet High School that's come in from Chicago. From Hawaii now to Chicago, his -- his other home. This is a high school that's appearing in its first inaugural parade.

The first lady, Michelle Obama, is a 1984 graduate of the Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. She went on from there to Princeton University and then to Harvard Law School.

So this is her high school performing now. The young men and women are led by senior naval science instructor, Lieutenant Gus (ph), and naval science assistant petty officer, Pierce (ph). Their mascot, by the way, Soledad, the Whitney Young Dolphins.

O'BRIEN: It's great to see the little kids. They've got -- with the cymbal trying to...


BLITZER: This is the Jesse White Tumbling Team. They've come from Chicago, as well. They're making their third appearance in an inaugural parade. These guys are pretty good, indeed. It should be -- it should be a very nice performance for the new president and the new first lady.

O'BRIEN: You say guys, but there are women there, too.

BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE). John King has got some more images from the moment that we're talking about -- the satellite moment that we have -- John, show us what we know -- what we have now.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you know, Tom Foreman just showed us this remarkable satellite imagery. Using the magic map here, we can zoom in a little bit closer for you.

I want to start with this image. This is the United States Capitol. Everybody can recognize that. And you'll notice -- you see the grass out here. There are no people here. This is an image by the GOI satellite. This was back in late December.

Now I'm going to reach across here. I hope that I won't get in the way. And I'm going to bring this forward to today. And watch the lawn here. This is now 11:19 this morning.

See that?

That is a full house on the grounds of the United States Capitol because Barack Obama is down here at this point. The picture gets a little grainy when you get in this close. But you see the Capitol. You see all the people.

Here's the reviewing stand out here and the crowd's gathered. I'm going to shrink it down a little bit and we're going to come out -- he's taking the oath of office here and speaking in that inaugural address to the masses out here on the Mall. And you see here's the reflecting pool just across from the Capitol. Again, you see a swarm of people here. It looks like a hill of ants, something like that, as Tom Foreman just said. Those are people there coming in in this GOI satellite image.

And as we go through this, more people down here, as we come down the Mall. We believe we are making history here in the sense of the fastest nonmilitary turnaround of a satellite image, thanks to GOI and this satellite.

Again, a swarm of people here as you come down the Mall. You see the crowd there. And to make the point, I'm again going to go back in time here. This is December 19th. And you see the grass on the Mall. Now we're going to come forward to 11:19 this morning, as the ceremonies were getting underway up on the Capitol.

We're going to come to the National Mall.

Let me shrink it down a little bit so you see what we're looking at. Here's the Capitol up here. Here's the National Mall. And here, of course, in the center is the Washington Monument.

And Tom showed us these, but we're going to take a closer look. They look like ants swarming to a piece of sugar. Well, the JumboTrons are down here. These are all the people around the Washington Monument. The television screens are around the edge here. As you can see, they're all gathering in one place. The barricades in places, as well.

But, again, now we're going to come back down. We're going to go further down the National Mall -- all the way out here. This is the Lincoln Memorial.

Now, some might have expected larger crowds down here when you get toward Lincoln. As you notice, there are some people gathered here. And, again, the TV screens are here.

And just for perspective one more time, let's go back. This is late December. This is a normal day down here. You see some people walking along, but there are no crowds. Now we'll come forward. And you see these areas have filled in up here. Again, there are the -- the big TV screens are here. Not as many are here as some might expect.

But, Wolf, before I go back to you, I want to close this down. You know this real estate very well. You come to the Washington Monument, you head up this way, you get to Pennsylvania Avenue.

And this is Barack Obama's new home -- the south grounds of the White House here, the White House mansion right there in the middle. And at the moment, you're watching the first family watch the parade from this reviewing stand right out in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Pretty remarkable technology -- Wolf. BLITZER: It's amazing that we got that that quickly.

By the way, is where you'll be able to see that satellite image, as well as the photosynths -- the dramatic image we took of that moment.

We're watching the -- the parade in front of the White House. The first state -- you know what the first state is. That would be Delaware, David Gergen.

Is that right?

GERGEN: The first state to -- certainly to ratify the Constitution was Delaware. So -- but, Wolf, I wanted to ask -- I'm curious to -- from John King's report, does that give us any better sense of how many people might have been on the Mall and how many people came to the inaugural?

Do we have any estimates at all from anybody?

BLITZER: No. Not yet. But we're working on it. This is the Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School marching band. They've come in all the way from Washington, D.C. -- a far ride from Dunbar High School to Lafayette Park here,

They -- this band has won many, many honors -- many awards across the United States. Recently, the band won top honors for drum line and drum majors at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida.

Dunbar, by the way, is the first public high school in the United States constructed for African-American students. And they're now performing for the president.

Our coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, will continue after this short break.


BLITZER: The parade continues here in Washington. In front of the reviewing stand at Lafayette Park outside the White House, the president of the United States and the first lady. There's Joe Biden, as well. They're in the reviewing stand. They're enjoying all -- all of these participants, who have come from as far away as Hawaii. There's the first family -- the entire first family, the daughters Sasha and Malia, and the first lady, Michelle Obama. They're continuing the parade.

Suzanne Malveaux and Jeff Toobin are right across from the reviewing stand.

You've got a great view there -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, we do, Wolf. Really quite amazing to see. You can see directly into the reviewing stand. The responds -- the reaction from the first family. And also there's been a lot of talk about this bubble that the Obamas will be in. But we've seen some faces -- familiar faces of some friends from Chicago. Marty Nesbitt and his children; Eric Whitaker.

These are really going to be critical to the family -- to Barack Obama and his little girls, of course, to make sure that they have those visits with their friends from Chicago. They are going to be frequent visitors here at the White House. They made a decision not to actually move all of their families here. But they have been, for years, coordinating schedules for soccer games and plays and things like that.

So it's those close family friends who are here sharing this moment that are so critical to this family and what they talk about -- staying normal, being just a normal family with friends, close friends and others.

It's funny, because in doing the documentary of the Obamas, I got a chance to meet a lot of his close friends. And they fondly called Michelle the taskmaster -- the one who had that schedule organized and made sure that everything ran on time and the kids got to school on time, that type of thing. And they have a whole community -- a host of people who are here with them celebrating this moment, but also will be regular visitors and part of their community, that will remain.

BLITZER: Jeff Toobin, as you see what's going on, you've probably got a little different perspective.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It is -- you know, one thing that has struck me. Suzanne and I have been staring at this reviewing stand for several hours. And in this reviewing stand, you have some of the most powerful people in the country. You have the president, the president's family, the cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And I would estimate that about a third of the people on that reviewing stand are people of color -- of one color or another.

And this is the changing face of America and the changing face of power. It's not just Barack Obama. The I -- the Bush reviewing stand looked nothing like this.

And I think this is something the American people and the world is going to have to -- is going to see a different face of America for the next four or eight years. And this reviewing stand is just a small preview of how different the face of America is going to look -- and the face of power in America is going to look -- in the next few years.


MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, it's interesting to note...

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.

MALVEAUX: ...who's actually here in front of the White House.

BLITZER: They're pretty excited.

I want to bring in Donna -- hold on, Suzanne.

I want to bring in Donna Brazile, who's watching this -- this amazing scene, as well.

Donna, you know, you got up really, really early this morning to go up to Capitol Hill. You had a good seat up there. And now you're watching this parade go on in front of the White House. Later tonight, there will be all the formal balls that will be going on.

This is a long, long day for not only for you, but for the country.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No question, Wolf. I want to tell you, when I finally arrived to the Capitol, I walked up and went through the Hart Building. I went underground, because, of course, I know the shortcuts around Washington, D.C.

The first person I laid eyes upon this morning was Senator Ted Kennedy. He was in such a great mood, of course. He was with his wife, Vicki.

I actually walked through the tunnels from the Russell Building to the United States Capitol with Senator Kennedy. And I tell you, we did that before 9:00 a.m. this morning. So my thoughts and prayers, of course, are with Senator Kennedy. He was so enthusiastic.

We talked about Bobby Kennedy, his brother, of course. And the fact that Bobby Kennedy, back in 1968, saw this moment. He visualized this moment when he said that one day the nation would elect a black president. And he was so happy that I had remembered that.

So I just wanted to give a shout-out to Ted Kennedy, to wish him well and to hopefully get him back in attendance tomorrow so he can confirm Senator Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Thank you, Donna, for that.

Donna Brazile always has a unique perspective.

Soledad, this parade is going on. And it's -- I must say, they're behind schedule, but it's only just beginning. There's a lot -- a lot of these participants coming forward.

O'BRIEN: And you can see already the sun is going down a little bit and it's getting a little bit chillier. And they've got 13,000 people in the parade. So they've got a little ways to go.

But, you know, if -- again, if you go back to the girls and you watch their faces, you have Sasha leaned over as far as possible to take a look, as she -- and she's really getting a kick out of the parade. Malia, as well.

So, you know, clearly, however long it goes is as long as it goes and everybody is going to enjoy it.

BLITZER: And we're going to enjoy it as long as it goes here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Our special coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama will continue in just a moment.


BLITZER: All right, there you see the Mall. The U.S. Capitol behind the Washington Monument. There are very few people left on the National Mall. You see those JumboTron screens. They're showing the parade. But most of the folks have actually left the National Mall area. They've tried to make their way -- some of them at least -- to get a glimpse of this parade that continues. It's maybe just, you know, not even halfway through, by any means.

The vice president and Jill Biden are there. The president and the first lady are there. The daughters are there, as well. It continues and the entertainment continues as the sun goes down in Washington -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. And it's interesting, for so many band members and others who came out, you know, they had to do fundraising -- sometimes $50,000 to be able to get themselves here, put themselves up in hotels. And because of those large volumes of people that we've seen all day, some of these band are staying 100, 120 miles away and they had to bus in very early to make their morning call.

BLITZER: This is the Delaware state float that you just saw. You saw the former senator from Delaware, Joe Biden, now the vice president. He's particularly proud of this -- of this float. The Delaware state float is a dramatic scroll presentation of the preamble to the United States Constitution. It's approximately 32 feet long and 10 feet wide, 15 feet high. Parts of various Delaware icons emblazoned around the float, incorporated into this float, designed with the seal of the vice president of the United States. That would be Joe Biden. And his granddaughter right there. And there you see the president and the first lady.

We're getting ready for a lot of high school bands and floats -- Don Lemon, as we see what's going on.

LEMON: Oh, it's very interesting -- you know, just to finish up on what Soledad said. Getting the invitation to come to the parade was the easy part, in some respects, because they had to raise so much money. And on some of these -- you know, some of these areas and schools have very limited funding and very limited budgets. So once they got the invitation, they had to raise the money to get here and then stay hundreds and hundreds of miles away. So this is really quite a moment for them and quite an accomplishment.

O'BRIEN: And remember we saw that Constitution (INAUDIBLE) school. And you think of the number of times that Barack Obama has referenced the Constitution -- a Constitution that said African- Americans were three fifths of a human being.

I mean, the references to the Constitution and sort of where the Constitution didn't quite serve every American, but could be changed and morphed for everybody -- to represent everybody fully. We'll come back to it again even in this inauguration (INAUDIBLE). BLITZER: All right. Now, this is something really special that's coming up right now -- the Tuskegee Airmen and Comfort Carriages. And I want to explain what this is all about. The Comfort Carriages coming in and making the first appearance here at this inaugural parade.

They're horse drawn carriages that have appeared in parades across the Capitol region in the greater Washington, D.C. Area, including the George Washington parade of Alexandria, Virginia.

The carriages are carrying the Tuskegee Airmen -- the Tuskegee Airmen. As many of our viewers no doubt will remember, they were the nation's first group of African-American military airmen, who flew with distinction during World War II, as the 332nd Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

They're marching in this, the 56th inaugural parade. Ten men will represent the group that greatly influenced the integration of the United States military. Members of the Tuskegee Airmen marched in president Harry Truman's inaugural parade back in 1949.

In 2007, the group was collectively awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

And I'm happy to let our viewers know that many of those survived, the Tuskegee Airmen. They've been invited here as the president's guests, including the father of Fredricka Whitfield, our own CNN anchor. And she's here as a guest, as well -- Don, this is very exciting stuff, who know the history of segregation and integration in our country.

LEMON: I do. And we have a thing here called CNN Heroes. And they asked me who my hero was. And I said it was Mal Whitfield, who is Fredricka Whitfield's father, because not only because of being a Tuskegee Airman, but his accomplishments in the Olympics, as well, winning Gold Medals back in the '30s and still alive and fortunate enough to still be around.

BORGER: You know, if we look at the order of this parade today -- Hawaii never really number one; Delaware, a small state; and the Tuskegee Airmen...

BLITZER: All right, guys, hold on for a moment.

We're going to continue to watch the first family, the vice president and this parade.

The coverage continuing here in THE SITUATION ROOM. The inauguration of Barack Obama. What a day it's been.

We'll have much more coverage right after this.


BLITZER: The parade continues for the first family. The president of the United States, the first family, they are watching from the reviewing stand. No doubt they are thrilled to see what's going on. The sun is going down quickly here in Washington, D.C. They still have a full night of balls to go to. Every one of those official balls, they'll be there. They'll have to make a quick change. Get into tuxedos for the men and beautiful gowns for the women, which I'm sure they have thought long and hard about. What a day it's been for this country and for Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

Although I want to update you on what happened earlier at the luncheon up on Capitol Hill. Senator Ted Kennedy collapsed. We're now getting new information, new information in from his doctor, the chair of the neurosurgery department at Washington hospital. Senator Kennedy experienced, according to the doctor a seizure today, while attending a luncheon for President Barack Obama at the U.S. capitol. After testing, we believe the incident was brought on by simple fatigue. Senator Kennedy is awake, talk with his family and friends and feeling well. He will remain in the Washington Hospital Center overnight for observation. And will be released in the morning. That's very, very good news.

Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, what do you think?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I mean in these sorts of situations, you have to try to figure out if something happened that brought on the seizure that was obvious. Something that could be dealt with. For example, was there a regrowth of a tumor or swelling around the tumor as a result of some of the therapy or some of the medications. Not at an appropriate dose. If all those things seem to come back normal or without anything that seems unusual, then you start to attribute it to, as this doctor did, to simple fatigue or a lot of stress.

I think that with tumors in particular you have to make sure the bad things are ruled out first. We do know, and I think the good news is it was around 2:35 that he had this seizure. And we were talking to folks at the hospital, almost an hour later, exactly they told us he was awake, alert and talking to his family and friends. That was a very good sign.

I should point out, Wolf, this isn't the first time that he's had a seizure since his brain tumor diagnosis. His brain tumor was diagnosed back in May. He had his operation in June. He had a seizure back in September that was reported as well. At that time it was attributed to a change in medications. So this is not that unusual when someone has a tumor. This is, again, a little bit of a warning sign for doctors to look to investigate to make sure nothing is going on. Good news indeed overall for the senator, Wolf.

BLITZER: I think you are right. Obviously, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent himself a neurosurgeon.

Let's get back to what we're seeing right now. Barack Obama looking at his watch. He probably realizes they are behind schedule. They've been behind schedule for much of the day. But 10 to 12, perhaps 13,000 people have come to Washington to participate directly in this parade. And he's going to stay there and enjoy it because they are here to watch this Native American parade moving along right now. I love -- it's trite to say it, Gloria Borger, but I love a parade.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So do I, Wolf. And this is a particularly terrific parade because each of these groups were chosen with great care by the incoming administration. We were talking before about the symbolism of the Tuskegee airmen, for example. In 2007, this group was collectively awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. And today, in this parade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- that's something like triple the number they normally get. They had to whittle it down. 90 groups are marching but over 13,000 people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Tuskegee airmen marching did bring back the thoughts that the inauguration has been so -- echoed Lincoln in so many ways that the first time African-Americans marched in a parade for president was Abraham Lincoln. It was in 1865 and they were troops. He opened up the army to bring in blacks to fight. And they did so bravely. And they were honored in a parade. He was also the first American president to have African-Americans at a reception at a presidential inauguration. And he broke a lot of the ground that went into that. But you think that African-Americans have been marching in parades now --

BLITZER: How many people actually came to Washington today, showed up on the national mall to be an eyewitness to the swearing in ceremony of Barack Obama? And we're getting an estimate. I want to go back to John King. We took a satellite picture. We showed our viewers.

John, is there a number that experts are now putting forward?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't have that number yet, Wolf. We are waiting to get it. As we wait, I just want to show our viewers one of the ways they'll calculate that number.

Let's go back to our image. This is an image. Here you see the United States Capitol. I'm going to stretch it out a little bit. This was taken late December. You see the stand here where the inauguration took place and it was built on the capital but notice the grass and the grounds are pretty empty. Perhaps a few people wandering around.

Now I'm going to fast forward. This is 11:19 a.m. this morning. You see now if I stretch it out just a little bit more, a full house on the grounds. This is one of the ways, looking at the satellite image which we believe we turned around in record time for nonmilitary applications from space. See all the crowds here on the capitol. Now we'll shrink down a little bit. We are literally going to fly down the national mall here. As we fly down the mall, Walter, stay with me. You see all these people here up against the barricades. I'll stop it. You see the swarms of people down here. We can come down. A big swarm here. Still open spaces. Remember, giant jumbotron TV monitors down there. So people swarming around those. Back a bit further. More swarms here. Literally flying down the national mall. When you get here you see another very large swarm of people right in here. And now we're getting closer as I pull out a little bit.

You come down the mall. People here, the Washington monument. The large groups of people right in here at the Washington monument. Again, the jumbotron screens up here. There's more over here. But a lot of open space. They will use this to make the crowd estimate. I'll just fly all the way through now. You come down where the Lincoln memorial is. This area not as crowded as many might have thought it would be. All of this will be used.

We should have it somewhere around the top of the hour. I'm going to pull back out. The crowd estimate. We know that Barack Obama is just outside his new home right here at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue watching the parade from that reviewing stand.


BLITZER: All right. John, thanks very much. And at some point, we will actually get a number.

There is the president of the United States and the vice president of the United States. They are watching this parade continue. Saluting the troops as they go forward. What a day this has been. And, remember, it's happening a day after we all celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s national holiday here in the United States.

When we come back, something rare indeed but something very significant. We're going to speak with the family of Dr. King and get their thoughts on this historic day. We're continuing our coverage right here in THE SITUATION ROOM of the inauguration of Barack Obama.


BLITZER: A spectacular shot from the west front of the U.S. capitol. That's where Barack Obama was sworn in as president of the United States nearly six hours ago. It's an amazing shot that we're seeing.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're covering all of this right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We want to welcome our viewers throughout the United States and around the world.

The national mall now largely empty, but the parade continues. The parade, a wonderful parade. It's going in front of the reviewing stand where the president and first lady are sitting right now. Sometimes standing. As we watch what's going on. President's clearly having a good time with the vice president as well.

This is a moment. This is a moment that a lot of people have waited for a long time. But as soon as this evening is done with and they'll be going to several official balls, they got to get down to business tomorrow.

Our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry is watching what's going on. Ed Henry is there together with Suzanne Malveaux, our White House correspondent.

Give us a sense of what awaits the president and the vice president tomorrow, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a hefty agenda. Tomorrow the president already has two big meetings. He's bringing in his senior economic adviser to talk about the financial crisis. Try to ramp up the sale job and trying to convince Congress to pass this now $825 billion economic recovery plan. He also has a meeting with the chief joints of staff, military commanders to try to change the mission in Iraq to try to fulfill his campaign promise to remove all U.S. combat troops within 16 months.

Meanwhile, his staff is trying to get right down to business, a lot of housekeeping here. When I was on the west front of the capitol shortly after Barack Obama was sworn in earlier today I started noticing that very senior aides started disappearing. People like Robert Gibbs, the new press secretary, Greg Craig, the new White House counsel, the chief lawyer. They had vans waiting for them. They raced on over here to get ready to start, you know, getting right down to business. What's interesting is that Robert Gibbs is already telling us that he can't even get his computer going. They are trying to get the nuts and bolts of starting a White House. He did notice, though, that there were all the Os were on the keyboard. A joke about some of the Ws taken off keyboards back in 2000 during the last major transition.

Some business that Barack Obama did do today, he signed a proclamation as previous presidents have on renewal and reconciliation on this inaugural day. Plus a proclamation about his cabinet and sub- cabinet appointments. He got seven senior people confirmed by the U.S. senate, including the secretaries of energy, education, homeland security, interior, veterans, agriculture, also his budget director Peter Orszag. Now they also wanted to get Hillary Clinton in as secretary of state. A republican Senator John Cornyn blocked that for now. More questions about Bill Clinton's foundation work. But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says he thinks they'll get Hillary Clinton confirmed as early as tomorrow by the U.S. senate and he's also hopeful that Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary designate who is facing trouble for not paying taxes some years ago, they hope to get a vote as early as Thursday to get that nomination back on track, Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry, thanks very much.

Suzanne Malveaux is also out there in Lafayette Park, right across from where the president and first lady.

She seems to be having a great time, Suzanne, the first lady. You've spent some time with her over these many months of the campaign, the race for the White House. She seems to be really happy right now. You can't blame her.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's interesting to note both of them, obviously, this has been a huge transition for this family. They have made tremendous sacrifices. She is fondly known by her friends as the task master, the one who really kept everything running in Chicago when it came to the kids. They would take shifts from time to time actually looking after them, but they have a whole host, a community of people, of friends, very close friends who you also see who are here joining them with their young children as well. They hope to open this White House to the public, to the people that they will have those friends close by to keep it real. He is going to stay in touch with them.

They say this is a very important time. It keeps the family together. And one of the things he said early on that he knew, he'd be a successful father is that if this did not impact Sasha and Malia in a way that changed them, he wants them to stay the same, just as they are, pure, innocent, wide-eyed and, obviously, Wolf, that's going to be a very difficult job ahead. When you look at the tremendous things they are seeing around them just today, and the changes that will go through their lives even when they sleep in their beds for the first time here in the White House. It will be just a completely different life for all of them.

So they are leaning on their friends. They are leaning on the family. Obviously, the grandmother, Marianne Robinson is also here in the White House. And they know that a time of reflection. This is a time of change, and they are going to try to keep their very close- knit family together as much as possible.

BLITZER: All right. Suzanne, stand by. That's the Green Valley High School marching band. They've come in from Henderson, Nevada. That's outside of Las Vegas. This is their first appearance here at an inaugural parade. The Green Valley High School marching band has 120 marchers. They are performing "This Is My Country" and not a surprise, "Viva Las Vegas" as they pass by the presidential reviewing stand. The band has performed at events in Rome, Italy, Paris, France, London, England, as well as Carnegie Hall in New York City. That's pretty cool.

We'll take another quick break here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're going to try to get a crowd estimate. I know John King has been work with experts based on the satellite imagery we've shown you near THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll try to get an estimate. How many people do they believe actually showed up for the swearing in ceremony of Barack Obama. Our coverage continues in THE SITUATION ROOM right after this.


BLITZER: The Tennessee marching band, the so-called pride of the southland. And this is from Knoxville, Tennessee, making its 12th consecutive appearance in this inaugural parade. Today these young men and women represent 308 members of the southland marching band will be performing "Rocky Top." All of these bands, they're so proud just to be able to participate, to join us and to entertain.

It looks like Barack Obama wiping away something from his nose. It's a little chilly out there. I hope he doesn't get sick as a result spending so much time outdoors today. Hopefully he'll be -- yeah, it's getting colder as the night goes on. But I know for a fact, because I've been in that reviewing stand at the White House, they've got heaters there for the president and the first lady and the vice president.

All right. I want to go back earlier, almost six hours exactly, and play this excerpt of what Barack Obama said in his inaugural address.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by executing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us and we will defeat you. To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interests and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the west, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who claim to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of the dissent, know you are on the wrong side of history but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.


BLITZER: Speaking almost six hours ago, the president speaking in his inaugural address. We're back live now at the reviewing stand where Barack Obama, Joe Biden, among others, they're watching this parade continue to go forward.

David Gergen, I know it's early and we have to digest what Barack Obama has said, in his approximately 20-minute address to the world, his inaugural address. How do you think he did?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he chose not to write a speech for the age also, not to write a speech that would be on the Lincoln memorial 100 years from now. But rather to speak to the moment. And on that, I think he did extremely well. He used the phrase, this is a moment that will define a generation. And I think this speech succeeded in doing that. And beginning a new generation of leadership here in this country. I thought he -- and understanding and recognizing that the crisis that we're in, and not trying to paint a rosy picture of it. Not trying to say things are going to get better suddenly. But being very realistic. He's taking on the role as educator, not necessarily just an inspirational figure. I think that works well for him. I'm sure it plays well in the world. There was a defiance for those who would do us harm but there was also a hand of friendship to others around the world and a promise that America would lead in a new way. All of that, I think, will work well.

It will not be -- rhetorically, I don't think it was a match, frankly, for his speech on race. I think that had more of an eternal sense about it. But as an inaugural speech to launch an activist presidency, I thought it was very effective.

BLITZER: Gloria?

BORGER: Rhetorically, it may not even have been a match for his speech after he lost the New Hampshire primary, which was a brilliant speech. But I think that was not what he was really striving for today. I think he wanted to be very clear that this was a change in leadership, a change in direction, and at the moment spoke for itself. He couldn't get beyond the moment rhetorically, because it was so profound. And so what he did is outline what I would consider to be a very ambitious plan for what he called remaking America. And that's a big idea. And there are lots of big plans that are part of it. And he said, and made it very clear that out of crisis comes opportunity.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He underscored all the American stories. If you were an immigrant who came here how many years ago, or past generations, this is part of your story. If you were descendent of slaves, this was part of your story. If you picked cotton, this is part of your story. Everybody was included. And then also reached out internationally as well. So it was a very inclusive speech.

BLITZER: You know, what struck you, Don?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very determined, Wolf. Also it seemed a little bit stern that we need to learn from the lessons that, from the past, and to move on. But also with what Soledad was saying as well, those topics that he talked about in this speech about inclusion and diversity, you can see it there, Ed Henry and Suzanne Malveaux were talking about it, you can see it in this reviewing stand here. It is part of his cabinet, administration, part of his family as well. You also see it in the performers who are out here marching in the parade. You know, we saw the Native American marching -- folks marching in the parade. You also saw it with the Georgia High School band as well. Diversity, inclusion, we're all in this together.

BORGER: It was also a very sharp speech, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. And I think he spoke to all nations, to the world, and said something we are ready to lead once more. And I think the once more was really an important phrase, and a bit of a swipe at the Bush administration.

GERGEN: More than a swipe.

BORGER: Yeah. More than a swipe. A slap, I would say, at the Bush administration. I would imagine that was pretty difficult for George W. Bush to sit and listen to.

BLITZER: They're honoring the United States Air Force right now. The Air Force staff going forward before the reviewing stand of the president of the United States, comprising the four-member staffs of the air force, each component, the active duty, the reserve, the National Guard and the United States Air Force Academy. They're moving forward before the reviewing stand. And a lovely sight indeed for the United States Air Force. Always, always an honor and a privilege for the commander in chief to see the Air Force in action. They're in action right now as they move forward.

Right behind them you can see the Mountain Ridge High School, the pride of the west marching band. They're coming in representing Glendale, Arizona. They'll be making their first appearance in an inaugural parade.

As we watch this parade continue, we have a live picture coming in from Midland, Texas. The former president of the United States, George W. Bush, you see him on the right hand side of the screen, he's back in his home state of Texas. He wanted to stop off in Midland on his way to Crawford on his presidential ranch. He's going to be speaking to his fellow Texans in Midland on this day, the day he stopped being president of the United States, the day he became a former president of the United States.