Politics

At Trump Inauguration, Even the Rain Strikes Partisan Notes

Members of Congress see different signs at inaugural ceremony

President Donald Trump addresses the crowd after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on the West Front of the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By LINDSEY McPHERSON and BRIDGET BOWMAN, Roll Call

 

The rain that started coming down as Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States could have been a sign. But the meaning of that sign depended on your vantage point.

New York Republican Peter T. King noted that the rain didn’t last long after Trump started speaking, joking, “He made the weather great again.”

Rev. Franklin Graham, who offered one of the prayers at the close of the Inauguration, referred to the rain as a blessing from God.

But before Graham delivered his interpretation, Florida Democrat Lois Frankel’s mother texted her and said, “Even God is crying,” according to Illinois Democrat Cheri Bustos, who was sitting next to Frankel.

For Bustos, though, the moment that stood out happened before Trump’s speech. A GOP colleague sitting in front of her was taking out his “Make America Great Again” hat and she asked to see it.

“And I look at the tag and the ‘Make America Great Again’ hat was made in China,” she said.

That moment was particularly poignant because Trump throughout the campaign and during his Inauguration speech talked about making products in America again, one of the few moments that actually drew applause from Democrats.

“There’s this disconnect between what he says and what he does,” Bustos said.

Bustos was sitting with Republican colleagues to her left and Democratic colleagues to her right. “So you literally, you could get the feel from all different angles,” she said.

While Democrats didn’t applaud throughout much of the speech, they were not actively protesting. Bustos said she only saw one Democratic member who remained seated as Trump was announced as the president, whom she did not identify.

Some Democrats seemed open to working with Trump after he was sworn-in. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said she saw common ground on Trump’s comments on the economy and infrastructure.

“I’m very excited with working with him on an agenda that will get Americans back to work and keep Americans safe,” Heitkamp told Roll Call. Heitkamp is also a vulnerable Democratic incumbent running for re-election in a Republican-leaning state.

King said he was pleased that, after a week of news of Democrats protesting the Inauguration with boycotts, that everyone present was respectful. “There was no remarks; no bregrudery,” he said.

The crowd seemed comparable to past inaugurations, with the exception of Obama’s first, King said, noting, “You could feel the enthusiasm coming from the crowd.”

Bustos had a different take. “It didn’t seem overly enthusiastic no matter what side you’re on,” she said, noting that Obama’s second inauguration seemed to have “so much more enthusiasm and excitement.”

She said the crowd was yelling at “inappropriate times” during the ceremony — particularly loud shouts during Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s speech and some yelling toward the start of Trump’s speech.

King said he didn’t hear any protests from his seat, which he noted was 30 feet from most VIPs, including the new president.

After the ceremony ended, lawmakers and dignitaries streamed into the first floor of the Capitol, with lawmakers going off in different directions to find family members and staff. 

Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, Trump’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence, mingled in the hallway. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas stopped Sen. Tim Scott and the two shook hands. Thomas told Scott he liked his hat.

Scott said Trump’s best moment of the speech was his final line where he repeated his campaign slogan to “Make America great again.”

“That line he coined is more than just a phrase,” the South Carolina Republican said. “It really is a sentiment that has undergirded his success and is a sentiment that people find hope in.”

“I think the substance of the speech was fine,” Scott said. “Ultimately I think he hit on the right points, but you know, we’ll see what happens. What really matters is what do we do next?”

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon told reporters that Trump made “very significant promises” in the speech, and that Democrats and Republicans should work together to fulfill some of those promises.

But, Wyden said, Trump’s speech was not as unifying as it could have been.

“I thought there was  a missed opportunity to speak to millions of Americans who did not vote for him,” Wyden said. “And even with just a few sentences where you could have said, ‘For all of you who voted for Secretary Clinton, the election’s over. We have to figure out to how to work together. I want to try to find some common ground.’”

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