Trump shares message of unity during celebration remarks

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," January 19, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Let's get some analysis of this moment and this time and this peaceful transfer of power. Steve Hayes is editor-in-chief of the Weekly Standard; Caitlin Huey- Burns, national political reporter for Real Clear Politics; Mercedes Schlapp, columnist for the Washington Times and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, I don't know if it translates over the airwaves but you kind of get goose bumps when you're standing here.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, the solemnity of the occasion, starting with the laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington and then, of course, as you say seeing the gathering, looking up to Lincoln, understanding the sort of the majesty of the office and of the transition is very inspiring.

I am afraid this speech came up a little bit short. It seemed to me the last campaign speech and that tomorrow he will have to be -- it will have to be a presidential speech. I'm sure it will be. This is kind of a very short, quick victory lap.

And I think the inaugural speech, the unity message which I assume will be sort of animating it, is very important given the fact that the Democrats appear to have declared war even before the game has begun.

So it's going to be a rocky time and it will demand a lot from the new president. And we'll see whether he can come up to the challenge starting with the inaugural address tomorrow.

BAIER: Caitlin -- you know, often as a candidate, Donald Trump talked about not seeing the crowds at events. At this event, we showed the crowd. And I can tell you it goes pretty much all the way down the mall here -- a lot of people out and about for this moment. Your thoughts.

CAITLIN HUEY BURNS, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Right. Donald Trump certainly feeds off that kind of crowd. We saw that in the campaign and I think that we will see that kind of energy perhaps tomorrow.

He does come in to inauguration day with, you know, the lowest approval rating, of course, of any incoming president. And a lot of people will be looking to that speech as, you know, a way to kind of fix those numbers, promote unity and that sort of thing. There are always questions about how long that will last.

I do think what tonight represents is really a significant moment in terms of really turning the mood to his direction right before this important day. Washington is typically very energetic during this time. The mood is a little different here in D.C. now. And I think an event like this really serves to kind of inspire people, remind people of that important part of our democracy, this peaceful transfer of power. And I think Trump was smart to kind of keep it short and sweet tonight -- right.

BAIER: Mercedes -- there is this feeling that, you know, these images, these moments, it is real. It is -- I talked to a bunch of people here. They don't care about poll numbers. They don't care about anything that is up on how people feel about him in numbers.

They care about this moment. They think they fought for it in the campaign and now it's here, and it's real.

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, WASHINGTON TIMES: Absolutely. And I have to say I disagree with Charles that Trump's remarks fell short. I think that you've got to understand the Trump supporter. He spoke to them directly tonight, you know. It's a concert. It's a bit more of a celebratory moment and he took that opportunity.

It was almost -- there was a point in which I could see that he felt almost -- he was humbled of the enormity of the task he's going to move ahead with. And I have to say for his Trump supporters, it was a personal message to them, saying that it's because of you, it's because of you that we created this movement. It's because of you that we are here standing today.

And when he looked at President Abraham Lincoln's statue and he saluted it, there is that moment where I think he understands that this nation is divided and what inspiration can you get from a President Lincoln who really came in during a time where our nation -- it was a war-torn country during turbulent times and it was a moment where he had to bring the American people together. I think Donald Trump understands that.

BAIER: Yes, Steve that moment was striking, that silent moment where you have the cameras sweeping down and the family gathered there looking at Lincoln's statue. Your thoughts on tonight.

STEVE HAYES, WEEKLEY STANDARD: Well Bret -- of course, this is a moment we all knew was coming for the past two years. I mean from the moment he came down that escalator, everybody predicted this. So we've basically been expecting it.

Look, this has been a wild ride.

BAIER: You especially, Steve.

HAYES: Yes, me especially. I mean I think throughout the Candidate Casino, everybody was putting $100 on Donald Trump the whole time. This is the end of a long and very wild ride, and what Donald Trump did was profoundly changed American politics by profoundly disrupting American politics.

And the only thing we can say about what's to come is that he is going to do the same thing. He will profoundly change American governance by profoundly disrupting American governance. We have seen hints of that throughout the transition.

We know that there is more to come. And I think the most important thing that Donald Trump said tonight in his off-the-cuff remarks echoes some of the sentiments that he used or that he articulated as a candidate when he said we're going to do things that haven't been done for our country for many, many decades. It's going to change. It's going to change. There is no doubt that it's going to change.


Charles -- he did change the paradigm not only in campaigns but it seems in transitions as well. And he's likely going to change the paradigm for what we have always expected from a president -- right.

KRAUTHAMMER: His presidency, if the path is any indication, it is going to be nothing like previous presidencies. The direct communication with the public through Twitter, the lack of political correctness, the idea that he would make new foreign policy off the cuff in a transition period.

The transition was the most remarkable I have ever seen. I mean he became essentially the President and was acting like one. He made the dollar slip just a couple of days ago with a single tweet. So he knows what is within his power.

But I want to reemphasize the unity issue is going to be a big one. And here I blame the Democrats. They are -- I mean before he is being sworn in, a third of them are not going to show up to what is supposed to be a civic -- glorious moment in our civic life. This is the lowest partisanship -- apart from the fact that he's got the lowest popularity numbers which I'm not sure really matters.

He's got the highest partisanship index coming from the other side that I have ever seen. And they intend to make this rocky. So it's going to be a challenge right from the beginning.

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