MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Yesterday on the program, our political editor, Ron Elving, said Barack Obama may be following that "Godfather" line, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, by considering political rivals for his cabinet. Well, today, he did it again. Mr. Obama successfully pressured Senate Democrats to keep Senator Joe Lieberman as chair of the Homeland Security Committee. Democrats were angry that Lieberman actively campaigned for Republican John McCain for president. So instead, as punishment, Lieberman will no longer chair a far less powerful subcommittee, and he will presumably still caucus with the Senate Democrats.
ALEX COHEN, host:
Come January, hotel rooms in Washington D.C. will easily cost $400 a night. Airfare from the West Coast can put you back nearly two grand. That's because the capital will be the place to be when Barack Obama is inaugurated on January 20th. As many as four million people are expected to attend. We're joined now by Carol Florman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. And, Carol, I know this is a really busy time for you, so thank you for taking the time out to speak with us.
Ms. CAROL FLORMAN (Communications Director, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies): Oh, it's my pleasure.
COHEN: So, how can the average Joe get a ticket to this event?
Ms. FLORMAN: Well, the first thing that people should know is that they don't necessarily need a ticket for every event, but for the inaugural swearing-in ceremonies, the front section, the sections that are closest to the stage, are ticketed.
And in order to get those tickets, one needs to apply to your member of Congress or your U.S. senator. Each of them is receiving an allocation that they will then distribute to their constituents. And many of the offices are doing it by lottery, so that people will really have a fair shot at getting the tickets.
COHEN: And about how many of these golden tickets are there out there?
Ms. FLORMAN: Well, the overall number of tickets for the ceremonies is 240,000. Now, that includes both the tickets that go to members of Congress but also a very significant allocation that will go the president-elect and vice president-elect through their Presidential Inaugural Committee.
COHEN: Some folks are already trying to take advantage of the great demand for these tickets, and they want to profit. Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation yesterday that would make selling tickets to the event a crime. How much of a black market have you seen for these tickets?
Ms. FLORMAN: Well, at first, we were seeing a lot of offers for tickets, including on some legitimate sites like eBay and StubHub, and both of those sites have agreed not to allow the sale of tickets to the swearing-in even if the legislation doesn't pass, and we're obviously very appreciative of that.
You know, because the bottom line is, this is the most important civic event that our government has every four years that we put on, and so it should be free. But the other thing is, nobody actually has tickets yet. So, anybody who is out there claiming that they have a ticket to sell is lying.
COHEN: Because they don't get released until just right before the event, is that right?
Ms. FLORMAN: That's right. That's right, just a few days before the event, in part to prevent fraud and to prevent any attempt to counterfeit tickets. And so, you know, we're hanging on to them, and at this point, unless you're a member of Congress, you don't actually know if you're getting a ticket.
COHEN: I take it, as part of your job, that you have a ticket to this event.
Ms. FLORMAN: Well, I'll be working. I'm sure I'll be running around on that day, but yes, I do have the tremendous honor of getting to be there.
COHEN: Carol, are people bugging you for tickets constantly right now? Are you finding all of a sudden your friends and neighbors are offering you all sorts of things?
Ms. FLORMAN: It is amazing how many people have managed to find me over the last two weeks who I haven't heard from in years.
COHEN: Lots of Facebook requests?
Ms. FLORMAN: Lots of Facebook requests, lots of ex-boyfriends turning up.
(Soundbite of laughter)
COHEN: And what do you say?
Ms. FLORMAN: Well, I say, well gee, wish I could help you, but I can't. Frankly, I'm hoping I'll have a ticket for my husband.
COHEN: Carol Florman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Thanks so much and best of luck to you.
Ms. FLORMAN: Thank you so much.
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