January 17th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

On the brink of history

Program Note: Be sure to watch Anderson report on the inauguration LIVE from Washington all weekend and on Monday and Tuesday.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/17/train.dispatches/art.obama.biden.cnn.jpg caption="President-elect Barack Obama speaks Saturday during his stop in Wilmington, Delaware."]

Anderson Cooper

Searching the paper on the way to Washington, looking for news of the inaugural, the headlines warn of what lies ahead: "Big firms Deepen Job, Wage Cuts." "Circuit City To Liquidate." The storm clouds are all around us.

The challenges Barack Obama is about to take on are overwhelming, but not, of course, unprecedented. Abraham Lincoln took office with fears the country itself was on the brink of dissolution. Fears for his safety were so great he had to sneak through Baltimore on board his train. Maryland, like Virginia, was a slave state.

FDR's first inaugural was in the midst of the Depression. 1933. Relief would not come for many years more. So, as Barack Obama heads to Washington today, on a train trip that will re-trace some of Lincoln's own train journey, he shoulders a great burden, but one past presidents have as well. He arrives in Washington this evening with a groundswell of public support. More than Clinton did, more than Reagan.


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Inauguration
January 17th, 2009
10:21 PM ET

Obama inauguration speech to decry 'anything-goes' mentality

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Jessica Yellin

President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration speech on Tuesday will be a call to action that diagnoses what he'll call a troublesome "anything-goes" mentality in the nation, a transition source said Saturday.

The speech, which the source said currently runs about 20 minutes, will call on industries and individuals to behave responsibly, saying it was that mentality, in part, that led to the harsh economic times the nation now faces. But he'll say that no problem is too big to be solved using the valuesthat have always defined Americans, the source said.

It also will seek to "define the moment we're in," for Americans, with two foreign wars ongoing and a financial crisis at home. The speech will not go into the details of Obama's agenda - keeping with the historical nature of inaugural addresses. According to the source, Obama has been working on the speech "in earnest" for the past week and will continue fine-tuning it after Saturday's train ride from Philadelphia to Washington.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Inauguration • Jessica Yellin
January 17th, 2009
03:08 PM ET

On top of Pennsylvania Avenue: Photos from the CNN set

Anderson Cooper broadcasting live from the top of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C.

Anderson and Wolf Blitzer speak to Soledad O'Brien, David Gergen and Roland Martin discuss the day's inauguration events.

A view of the Capitol from the top of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Wolf braves the cold on the CNN set in Washington on Saturday.

A view from the CNN set - behind the scenes.

Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Inauguration
January 17th, 2009
02:22 PM ET

Live from the set of the Newseum – it's cold!

Program Note: Tune in to CNN where we'll be broadcasting live all weekend and Monday and Tuesday.

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Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

It’s cold here. There’s not any other way to describe DC right now. Any walking around the area must be accompanied by heavy outerwear, and trust me, even that isn’t enough. For the 360 faithful, it’s not as bad as New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but it’s pretty close.

If you are watching our air today, you’ll see Anderson, Wolf, Soledad, David Gergen, John King & Roland Martin on the set. The area they are sitting is covered, but it’s open. They are bundled up and during commercial breaks, they head to the closest heaters to try and get some warmth. The crew, however, is covered from head to toe, and I don’t even know who is behind the camera because I can only see their eyes through their hats, scarves, etc. Even though I haven’t heard any complaints, I can see on their faces that this isn’t the most pleasant experience ever.


Filed under: AC360° Staff • Behind The Scenes • Inauguration • Kay Jones
January 17th, 2009
01:50 PM ET

A dream come true – riding down Pennsylvania Avenue

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/17/inaug.nina.culver.jpg caption="Nina Karas, a horseback rider from Culver Academies, prepares to ride in Tuesday's inaugural parade." width=292 height=320]

Nina Karas
Inaugural Parade Horse Rider

To most kids, looking back to their first day of fourth grade does not seem so memorable, but for me it was one of the scariest days of my life.

Walking into a classroom full of energetic kids who have known each other all of their life, being the new girl was intimidating. The fact that I had a thick Russian accent did not give me the easiest passage into the society of the American kids.

I grew up in a small city near the Black Sea, Zeleznavodsk. The neighborhood was dirty and poor. The life of a Russian child growing up in Zeleznavodsk could not compare to the one that most American kids have. The toys were limited, the number of safe playgrounds was low, and team sports were not an option.


Filed under: Inauguration
January 17th, 2009
01:31 PM ET

AC360° gets ready for the inauguration!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/16/inaugural.preparations/art.capitol.seats.cnn.jpg caption="The inaugural committee will set up 28,000 chairs for ticket holders to watch Barack Obama's swearing-in."]

Jackie Puskas
AC360° Editorial Producer

Hi all, we here at AC360° are looking forward to bringing you all the momentous and moving moments of the inauguration events over the next 5 days!

I am an editorial producer for AC360° heading to DC on Monday to make sure our contributors and guests are where they should be when they should be next week. It should be quite a challenge given what we’re hearing about the crowds, security and locations!

I have the added bonus of getting to see my sister, Beth Puskas, who is an equestrian instructor and jumping coach with Culver Academies, ride with her students in her second parade. They have quite an interesting story! This is the FIFTEENTH time they have participated in an Inaugural Parade – the first was in 1913 honoring Woodrow Wilson.


Filed under: AC360° Staff • Behind The Scenes • Inauguration
January 17th, 2009
12:58 PM ET

Inauguration Map: Inside Washington

Click on the map for an interactive tour of Washington and the key places and events during the inauguration.

Filed under: Inauguration
January 17th, 2009
12:50 PM ET

Horse riders get ready for the inaugural parade

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/17/lynn.culver.inaug.otis.jpg
caption="Lynn Rasch, Assistant Dean of Girls, Culver Academies with one a horse, Otis, of Culver Academies."]

Watch this video of the riders at Culver Academies rehearsing for the inaugural parade.
Watch this video of the riders at Culver Academies rehearsing for the inaugural parade.

Lynn Rasch
Assistant Dean of Girls, Culver Academies

I have been a member of the Culver Academies Horsemanship staff for more than 21 years. Although I have had the opportunity to prepare Culver horses and riders for six Presidential Inaugural Parades (1981, 1985, 1997, 2001 and 2005), the preparation for the inaugural parade of President-elect Barack Obama stands out for me.

More than 100 days ago, long before we received the official invitation to participate in the parade, Culver riders were saddling up their mounts, riding in formations and practicing their horsemanship skills in hopes of an invitation. These riders were hoping that they would have the opportunity to follow the tradition of past Culver riders and participate in the most patriotic parade in our country.


Filed under: Inauguration
January 17th, 2009
11:18 AM ET

Mychal Bell's full interview

CNN's Sean Callebs talks with Mychal Bell about moving beyond the controversy in Jena, Louisiana and how he tries to stay positive.

Filed under: Sean Callebs