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Bob Franken: The inauguration festivities

January 20, 2001
2:45 p.m. EST

Bob Franken is a national correspondent for CNN and reports on major stories inside Washington, D.C., and around the country.

CNN Moderator: What is the mood among the crowd on this cold and damp inaugural day?

Bob Franken: Well, there are a variety of feelings. First of all, people are cold, but they have come from far and wide to see this event or, in the case of some, to protest the event.

CNN Moderator: From your vantage-point, about how many protesters seem to be in the crowd?

Bob Franken: I would say, overall, you're talking about a few thousand, but not an overwhelming amount and, thus far, quite peaceful. There is a huge police presence here under the control of the Secret Service.

CNN Moderator: Has the rain had an effect on the number of people who have stayed to watch the parade?

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Bob Franken: Hard to tell. Itís certainly a goodly crowd out there.

CNN Moderator: Have you heard how Democrats on Capitol Hill are responding to President Bush's inaugural address?

Bob Franken: Well, on this first day ... you're not going to hear any rancor, and there was not anything in the address that would incite controversy -- not on this day of bi-partisanship. The address was mainly about education and the military, nothing negative.

Question from the chat room: Were any protesters being so disorderly or uncooperative that force was used?

Bob Franken: They were certainly, compared to other events like this, acting relatively peacefully. Encouraged, of course, by the massive police presence.

CNN Moderator: What were the protesters hoping to accomplish? Which groups are there?

Bob Franken: There are so many groups here. One group, led by Rev Al Sharpton of New York, that had a mock swearing in some blocks from the Supreme Court and Sharpton told the crowd the ceremony was being held because "across town, a man who lost the election is being sworn in to lead the country." But that is one. Others attack corporations and other Bush policies and there are other organizations that came to support Bush.

Question from the chat room: This inauguration seemed to be rather solemn. Are inaugurations typically as solemn as we saw today?

Bob Franken: It looked like your standard inauguration--lots of pomp and ceremony, lots of tradition, of course. But it was not a sunny day, so the gray dampness might be what was construed as solemn.

CNN Moderator: Police were expecting record numbers of protesters for this inauguration. Did the weather have a chilling effect on that turnout?

Bob Franken: Quite possibly. It should be pointed out that a record number of protesters would not be that many protesters Mass demonstrations have never been a part of inauguration day.

CNN Moderator: What events will follow the inaugural parade?

Bob Franken: There will be a series of inaugural balls, both official and unofficial, where people will dance the night away.

CNN Moderator: How many of these events are President and Mrs. Bush expected to attend, if only briefly?

Bob Franken: As many as nine or so. It's hard to tell. Unlike Bill Clinton, his predecessor, George W Bush is not know, anymore anyway, to be a 'night crawler.'

CNN Moderator: Is he prepared to get down to business tomorrow morning?

Bob Franken: Yes he is, as a matter of fact, going to start first thing tomorrow. First of all, he has already prepared a series of orders that will block a series of Executive orders by President Clinton having to do with Federal lands and Medicare. Bush does plan to have an open house at the White House on Sunday for about 3,000 people.

CNN Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Bob Franken.

Bob Franken: Thank you very much!

Bob Franken joined the chat room via telephone from Washington, D.C., and provided a typist. The above is an edited transcript of the interview on Saturday, January 20, 2001.

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