THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
BACKGROUND BRIEFING ON INAUGURAL ACTIVITIES
The Briefing Room
2:15 P.M. EST
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Okay. What I'd like to do first is just go through the President's schedule and give you some basics and talk a little bit about coverage of that.
First of all, beginning Friday there will not be any events for coverage. But just to let you know what he's doing, Friday afternoon at 4:00 there will be a diplomatic reception over at the State Department. It's basically a receiving line for diplomatic corps, which I believe is a traditional event associated with inaugurals.
And then that evening he will have a dinner here at the residence for outgoing Cabinet members.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: No coverage, no. Nothing on either of those.
On Saturday, continuing with no-coverage events -- (laughter) -- there will be a brunch and a lunch here in the morning and in the early afternoon for a number of people, some family, some friends, some of the inaugural participants, a variety of people will be coming in for that.
Q Is that in the Residence also?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: That's in the Residence for both of those.
Q That's both a brunch and a lunch?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: They are two separate events.
Q Is he going to eat at both things? (Laughter.)
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: He hasn't decided yet.
Q What do you want to bet?
Q Does that include stars of the gala?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: That's possible, yes. But we have not seen a guest list, but it's possible.
The rest of the afternoon and morning, when he's not there, we expect him to be doing some work on the speech, of course. And in the evening the President plans to watch the fireworks, which begin at 6 o'clock. We're not certain from where, but chances are it will be from right here, from the White House.
There are other locations. As you know, there are other events going on for watching the fireworks, but right now at least, chances are he'll be doing it right here. Obviously we'll let you know if that's going to change.
Q He's not expected to take part in any of the events Saturday outside?
Q Big Thinkers tent.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Do you mean on the Mall?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Right now there's -- it's not on his schedule either Saturday or Sunday. And right now we expect it to stay that way. Obviously he could decide at the last minute, hey, great idea to go down there, but right now we're not expecting that.
Q On Friday night there's a big Arkansas party -- Friday night, is there any chance he'd go to that, do you think? The Blue Jeans Bash, the Arkansas party?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: It's not on his schedule. And he does have the dinner here. Whether he does anything beyond that, I don't know.
Q Do you know what time the dinner is here?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Middle of the evening.
Q Is there some women's ball on Saturday night? They're saying that he's planning to attend.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Regarding Saturday night --
Q We haven't gotten past the fireworks.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: That's all right. Saturday night there are a lot of -- right now there's nothing on his schedule for Saturday night. There's a lot of different activities going on around town, both private closed dinners as well as public -- more public events, some of which have press coverage, some don't. We hope we'll have a better idea by Friday where the President and the First Lady have decided to go Saturday night. We do expect them to be out and about somewhat. But we don't know yet. So more on that later. They will not be attending the American Gala, which is the rehearsal of the next evening's gala over at the U.S. Air Arena. That's it for Saturday. Any other general questions about Saturday?
Q For those of with pool responsibilities on Saturday, will the fireworks be a pooled event?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I don't believe so.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Unclear right now.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Unclear.
Q Well, if he's going out afterwards, there will be a pool.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Let me move on to Sunday. We expect him -- expect them to attend church, as usual. And we're not -- no, we're not sure where they're going to attend church. I mean, they might attend their usual church, the Foundry Methodist, but we don't know if that will be the case. We may not know that until Sunday morning. Obviously, that will be pool coverage.
Most of Sunday before the gala is speech prep. It's a down day, there's nothing on the schedule, and we expect him to be doing a lot of work on the speech. As for the gala, the President departs here by helicopter at around 4:30 p.m. The pool actually will drive out ahead of time and meet up with him out in Landover. And he wants to avoid tying up traffic. Obviously, traffic is going to be pretty heavy in the city that weekend so that's why they're taking a helicopter.
Q So pool departure looks like roughly --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: About 3:15 p.m., maybe a little bit later than that.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: The gala runs from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. It will be taped for broadcast later in the evening by CBS. It will be broadcast at 9:00 until 11:00 that night. After the gala he'll probably, you know, meet and greet performers, and then back here. And there's nothing on his schedule for the remainder of the evening. Presumably some speech writing will be going on.
Then Monday morning, the Inaugural Prayer Service will take place at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church. It begins at 8:00. I believe that's on M Street. That will be covered by pool, but there also will be video and still coverage in the church. And that is kind of a long service, it lasts until 9:30. Then he will come back here for the traditional coffee with the Joint Congressional Inaugural Committee. That will take place at 10:15 here. I don't believe there is any coverage of that.
Q What is that?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: That is the chairs -- the chair of the committee is John Warner, Senator Warner of Virginia. And Senator Wendell Ford of Kentucky is either a co-chair or a ranking minority, I'm not sure. But the rest of the committee is the leadership, Senators Lott and Daschle, and Speaker Gingrich and Majority Leader Gephardt.
And they escort the President to the Capitol in the motorcade, which departs here at 10:45 a.m. They go into the Capitol, and then the ceremony begins -- the inaugural ceremony begins at 11:30 on Monday. The President, just before 11:30, is escorted to the platform by the Sergeants of Arms of both the House and the Senate. At 11:58, the Vice President is administered the oath of office by Justice Ginsburg. Then at 11:59, the President will be administered the oath of office by the Chief Justice. To be followed by the inaugural address.
Q How long will that be?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: You're going to keep asking. (Laughter.)
And the President then attends the congressional lunch in Statuary Hall, which again is another traditional event. Now, as you all probably know, the Hill is in charge of logistics for that event. We're pretty sure there will be a photo op of some kind. What we don't know is what it will be, what the duration will be, whether there will be -- whether you'll be able to see any of the remarks or not. We just don't know that yet. Again, the Hill really controls that.
The parade begins at 2:00 P.M.
Q Can we just back up one minute? The arrival -- the escort up to the Hill, is he being dropped off on the East Front, and is there going to be a photo op from the East Front, or is he going directly into the Capitol, we'll never see him at that point. I just wanted to ask -- from the White House up to the Hill.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: He goes to the East Front, but I think we should refer questions to the House and Senate press gallery on whether there's a photo op or not.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Everybody hear that? East Front, but as far as whether there's a photo op you should probably check with the House of Senate galleries.
Q Will the White House pool itself be in a position to actually witness the inauguration or not?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: No, the travel pool will not. The travel pool will bring him up and then will be in a position to cover him in the parade, but will not be -- that's all covered by Hill pools.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Did everybody hear that? Okay. The question was whether the pool will actually watch the inaugural ceremony, and the pool will not be in a position to see the inaugural ceremony. That will be covered by pools on the Hill.
The parade begins at 2:00 p.m. and the pool will be able to participate -- almost participate in the parade. The pool will be on flatbed trucks running ahead of the parade, looking back on the President and First Lady and everybody else. And the parade will, you know, I'm not sure that we can trust any specific time that he'll get here, arrive at the White House. But once he does, he goes inside the White House and then --
Q Is he walking or riding?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I guess we'll find out then.
Q What kind of vehicle is he going to start off in?
Q Is he on a truck?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Flatbed. (Laughter.)
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: He rides in a limo.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I assume he rides in a limo. Yes, a limo.
Q He did that last time.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: And he will -- once he comes here, he'll go out the North Portico -- he'll be in here until -- stop in here and then go out the North Portico to the reviewing stand, from which he will watch the rest of the parade.
Q He arrives at the White House -- not right to the stand? He goes in the White House first?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Correct, he goes in the White House first.
Q South Portico?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: South Portico? Okay, I thought it was -- of course, South Portico and then goes out the -- then comes out the North Portico to -- yes.
And then the parade lasts much of the afternoon. And then at 7:00 p.m. the President will depart the White House to attend not 14, but 15 inaugural balls. The 14 inaugurals sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee and a veterans inaugural ball that is not directly associated with the inaugural committee.
Q Where is that?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I think that is at the Capital Hilton. That's at the Capital Hilton.
On Friday we expect to announce the order in which he will attend inaugural balls.
Q Mrs. Clinton will be with him at every one of those?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Mrs. Clinton, I've neglected to mention the First Lady, who will be with him obviously at all these events.
Q How much down time do you expect between when he finishes reviewing the parade and when he heads out again at 7:00?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Well, that would assume I know when the parade is going to end and it will be late in the afternoon.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: In between?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: In between the parade and the balls.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: The parade, we hope, runs between two and two and a half hours.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: My colleague said we hope the parade runs between two and two and a half hours. And so whatever -- whenever is the answer.
I want to make sure I've -- yes, that's about it for the schedule.
Q All these stands out here, grandstands and the viewing stands and the fancy one for the President, who pays for that? Does the government pay for it or does the committee pay for it?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: The bleachers that are up along the parade route are paid for by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: The bleachers are paid for -- do you want to come up? The bleachers are paid for by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Q And the big ceremonial --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: The reviewing stand out here? Same.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I'll have to -- I believe it's PIC. I'll have to revisit that.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Probably -- we'll double-check. Probably PIC.
Q One more logistical question, when he leaves the Hill to come back here, is he going to come straight down the stands and go, or is he going to go back through the Capitol --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: He'll have the lunch first.
Q And then --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: They'll come out of the Capitol --do we know where they'll come out of the Capitol?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Yes, that I can I definitively say he walks down the stairs at the East Front of the Capitol -- there's an honor guard -- and into the limousine and starts the parade.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: That's after the lunch.
Q I assume this area will be open. Do we need an extra --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: That's another -- that's a whole other series of questions that I've got more information on, logistics around here for the press, for you guys.
Q When are you going to tell us?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: As soon as I answer questions about the President's schedule.
Q This inaugural speech -- do you have any idea if it's going to be available ahead of time and embargoed?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Embargoed, meaning like -- you mean like available well before the speech?
Q Well, even 30 seconds would be a big help, you know.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: We don't know yet. We don't know yet is the answer. Depends on when the President feels it's ready.
Q You spoke about ordering the balls, but has any projected out his time of arrival back at the White House that night?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Late. No, early -- early the next day.
Q What about plans for January 21st. What's the first --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Sort of early the next day.
Q What's the first thing he's going to do on the 21st, building that bridge to the 21st century? First order of business --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: What have we got here on the 21st. I only do inaugural. No, I'm just being negligent here. Actually, on his schedule the only event on Tuesday is the Democratic National Committee, the annual -- the meeting of the Democratic National Committee.
Q And that is when?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: That's Tuesday afternoon.
Q So there's no line-up of people coming to an open house like it was on the day after last time?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: No. That's sort of a traditional thing, kind of -- I don't know if it was traditional, but that was sort of a greeting -- well, for his first term, the beginning of his presidency as kind of an introduction to Washington, have everybody come in. But that was -- this is a second term, so he's well acquainted.
Q The Friday dinner and the --
Q Can we ask you about Dick Morris? (Laughter.)
Q Saturday morning lunch and brunch.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I'm sorry?
Q The Friday dinner and the meals in the Residence, are you guys going to be releasing guest lists, letting us know who's at those events.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I don't know. I'll have to check on that.
Q Can you tell us what the First Lady will be doing Saturday and Sunday?
Q Will you also let us know who's staying at the White House as their guest that weekend?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: The people staying at the White House are family. It's only the family members.
Q So none of the entertainers are being invited?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Only family members staying at the Residence.
Q Who gets the Lincoln Bedroom?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I'll let you know.
Q Can we get the First Lady's schedule, if it's different in any way?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Her schedule is no different than the President's, just that there may be an addition for her on Sunday, but I don't know about that yet.
Q She's not planning to go to the Mall?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: She may. It's flexible as the President's. And she may have another event on Sunday; we're not sure about it yet, but we'll be releasing that as soon as we know.
Q Can you go ahead and finish whatever it is you have to brief on?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Yes. I'm sorry. A quick question.
Q Yes. Will there be a radio address?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Will there be a radio address? Undoubtedly. But I don't know when it's --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Taped Friday.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Taped Friday.
Let me give you some logistical information. I'm not especially good with this stuff, so let me just go through this. Members of the press are strongly encouraged to use the southwest gate on January 20th. This is all January 20th, what we're going to be doing here. The northwest gate will be open to hard pass holders only. And everybody going through the northwest gate will be required to go through mags.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: There's a checkpoint at 17th and Pennsylvania that you would first have to go through to get -- and go through a mag there to then get to the northwest gate and go through the mag again. The Secret Service are expecting a large back-up at the northwest gate. So we're suggesting southwest gate, but northwest gate will be open.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: We're strongly encouraging it.
Q Is 17th Street going to be easy to walk up and down to get to the southwest --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I wouldn't want to say "easy," but you should be able to walk down 17th street and you should be able to enter Pennsylvania Avenue from the corner of 17th and Pennsylvania with your hard pass.
Q And the Secret Service is going to know this and they're not going to yell at us? (Laughter.)
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Yes.
Q And hassle us.
Q Until when? I mean, until the parade is --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Until well after the parade is over.
Q Well, what about before, during the parade?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: The same thing applies.
Q So at 17th Street we'd be able to cross Pennsylvania?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Prior to the parade beginning, yes. I mean, after the parade begins you're going to have to make a wide arc around 17th and Pennsylvania to get around to the southwest gate. And I wouldn't suggest anyone trying to go to the northwest gate during the parade or right before it. But, you know, early in the morning it shouldn't be bad and it will get progressively worse until the parade is over.
Q Do you have some rough time frames on when is good and when is bad?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: No.
Q Or when they're going to freeze the place, you know, when the President's --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Well, they're never going to freeze that access, but it's just going to get more and more congested as people come to sit in the reviewing stands and --
Q Is it hard pass only on the southwest gate as well?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: No. If you have anyone who is being cleared in to come to the White House on the 20th, they can come to the southwest gate.
Q When the President moves --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Yes, when the President is passing by and the motorcade is coming, then obviously everything will freeze. But other than that you should have continual access.
Q Are we going to be able to drive up to get gear in closer to the southwest gate? Can we --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: No.
Q Is there an entrance on 15th?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I believe there is an entrance at 15th and Pennsylvania, and 17th and Pennsylvania.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Yes, there are mags at 15th and Pennsylvania.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Two mags. Two mag points.
Q Are you going to have just one solid pool on Monday or are we going to be able to switch out because it's a long day for pool people?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Our plan right now is that it's the same in-town pool. We're open to discussion if people want to work out their own plans for people to swap out.
Q Can't two people --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I don't have a problem with that.
Q Is there any point between the 19th and the 21st that we are not going to be able to go live from the White House lawn?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: No.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: If you're a hard-pass holder. Monday evening, when the White House Press Office closes, what we will do is lock this door and if you're a hard-pass holder, you can do stand-ups out on the lawn. That's not a problem.
Q What about live shots?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Yes, that is fine as long as you send in someone with a hard pass. Service will allow you to come in and do your stand-ups until midnight or so.
Q What about beyond that? If we have a California station, can we go 1:00 a.m.? Is that --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: We're trying to work to see if we can get lights on at the White House until 2:00 a.m.
Q Great. Thank you.
Q The President won't be home yet.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Let's see if there's anything else. Credentials for inaugural events are being handled by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, except for the swearing-in itself, which is handled by the Hill. Parking -- take public transportation. Public transportation. The streets will be closed around the parade route from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. approximately.
Is there anything else on here -- no. Is there anything else that I should add from you guys?
Q Do you anticipate any activity at the in-house pool during the weekend, as opposed to the in-town travel pool?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: No.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Yes, PIC is going to put out an advisory for planning either tonight or tomorrow morning. That's for covering all the various inaugural events that they are sponsoring.
Q Is there someone or someplace we should contact should we run into problems that actual day?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: On Monday?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: The press office will be open.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: We'll be here 6:45 in the morning until I imagine somewhere around 7:30, 8:00 in the evening.
Q Okay, after that, the Secret Service won't give us a hard time if we have a hard pass coming in to do live shots.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: We are working very hard to see that that will not happen.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: But we will have a duty officer.
Q Can we get a financial report from some of the PIC people on how the contributions and all the sales are coming and how the budget looks and --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: That information will be provided after the inaugural at some point. All the people who contributed money, $100 or less.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Are you talking about sort of how we're doing right now?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: We're doing great. (Laughter.)
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Let me amend that answer.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Details will come later, but, yes, we're fine. The events are showing the same kind of pacing and enthusiasm. Balls have sold out -- that sort of thing. So we're doing --
Q All of them?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I don't know about all of them. The clock is ticking. 1-888-888-1997. (Laughter.)
Q It's like the Jerry Brown campaign.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Anyway, they're actually doing very well. Our executive committee, for all their planning, all their goals and targets have been met.
Q So you're on budget?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Absolutely.
Q Has anybody got a rundown of the program for the inaugural ceremony, who is doing what?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: For the inaugural ceremony? I have some of it here. I don't have the -- well, yes. I mean, I have some here. The Inaugural Committee on the Hill can provide a lot of that. We released that, and I don't have it in front of me, but I have -- I think from what I have here, I can give you some basics. Senator Warner calls the ceremony to order, he makes welcoming remarks. The invocation will be offered by Reverend Billy Graham. The Pledge of Allegiance will be recited, then there will be a musical selection performed by Children of the Gospel, the Next Generation. Then the Vice Presidential and Presidential Oaths of Office and the Inaugural Address, a musical selection by the Emmanuel Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra, a selection read by Poet Miller Williams, a benediction delivered by Reverend Gardner C. Taylor of New York.
Q New York --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Brooklyn. (Laughter.) Brooklyn, I am corrected. The National Anthem will be performed by Santita Jackson, accompanied by the Resurrection Choir which, as you all may know, is a choir put together of people from churches that have been burned or damaged over the last year, year and a half. They performed at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.
That is it. Have I missed anything that you can think of?
Q Who leads the Pledge of Allegiance?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I don't know if we have that yet.
Q Dick Morris? (Laughter.)
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: Someone other than that.
Q And why is the gentleman from Brooklyn doing the benediction? What's his --
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: I think he's a very well known -- he's one of the leading -- he's got a very big church -- one of the leading ministers in the country, really, and is very well known in New York and around the country.
Q Can you get any more details on the First Lady's attire?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: The First Lady's? We were asked about the President -- tuxedo out of the closet.
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: He has two. I don't know which one he's wearing.
Q How many?
INAUGURAL OFFICIAL: He has two, doesn't know which one he's wearing. It's the comfortable one, since he'll be in it a long time. That's it.
END 2:45 P.M. EST