'This Week' Transcript: David Axelrod

ABC'S "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS"

JANUARY 18, 2009

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST DAVID AXELROD, SR. ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA

[*] STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to a special inaugural edition of THIS WEEK.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, 32ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only thing we have to fear...

JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask not what your country can do for you.

RONALD W. REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Government is not the solution to our problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): As Barack Obama rolls into history...

OBAMA: What's required is a new declaration of independence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We examine the challenges ahead with the next president's closest adviser, David Axelrod.

Plus, an expanded Inauguration roundtable, with George Will, Donna Brazile, E.J. Dionne, Matthew Dowd, and Gwen Ifill.

And as always, the "Sunday Funnies."

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": Obama is making the trip three days early because it's Amtrak and even he only has so much hope.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: From the heart of the nation's capital, THIS WEEK with ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos, live from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello, again. Barack Obama has been all over Washington these last two weeks. But the president-elect was formally welcomed to the Capitol last night when his vintage trained pulled into Union Station just before 7.

Obama began the day, Michelle Obama's 45th birthday in Philadelphia. Stopped in Wilmington to pick up the Bidens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE-PRESIDENT ELECT JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR.: Happy birthday, kids! Welcome to Wilmington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Then they rolled slowly south, emulating Abe Lincoln's Inaugural train ride and echoing Lincoln's words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: But appeal not to our easy instincts, but to our better angels.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The (INAUDIBLE) back showed the crowd's good cheer, and they are not alone. A new ABC News poll out this morning shows that 80 percent of Americans approve of how Obama has handled the transition. And 79 percent just like him.

The last incoming president with support like that was Ronald Reagan in 1981. All that is happy news for our headliner this morning, David Axelrod.

Welcome back to THIS WEEK.

AXELROD: Thanks, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're going into the White House on Tuesday with the public rooting for you.

AXELROD: Yes. I think the public is rooting for us, and more importantly, rooting for the country. We know -- I think everybody knows we have big problems. I think the striking thing about your poll and all of the polling I've seen is this combination of optimism and realism.

People are hopeful about the future, but they understand we have really serious problems.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to talk about how do you get the balance right? Because as our poll -- as you say, people are pretty realistic, also pretty upset. Ninety-four percent say the economy is in bad shape? That is as bad as we have ever seen?

AXELROD: I want to find the 6 percent who think it's in good shape.

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