Donald Trump’s home state of New York held its state society inaugural party the night before his inauguration but the president-elect was barely a part of it.
Despite rumors that Trump would make an appearance at the party, New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins said the incoming president was still at an event at Union Station, which the congressman had just left.
“I’ll tell you right now, at nine o’clock, they’ve not even entered the room for dinner,” he said. “I know the president wanted to come but now knowing [that] we just left, I doubt it.”
Collins, the first member of Congress to support Trump in last year’s Republican primaries, described the mood at the Union Station event.
“I am so excited, I was just with Jeff Sessions and Mike Flynn at the candlelight dinner and everyone is so excited, it’s hard to put into words. It’s giddy, anticipatory, anxious, all of these adjectives,” he said. “Because we’re going to change America. We’re going to get the country back [in] the right direction. Frankly, saving the country for our children and grandchildren.”
As for the immediate future, Collins said he looked forward to the new era in Washington.
“Excited and I think grounded in all the hard work ahead because now we will be legislating a bill that will be signed into law,” he said. “Very different than legislating a bill that will go sit in Harry Reid’s drawer, never to see the light of day. We know the enormity of that responsibility, we’re taking it seriously.”
Asked about replacing the 2010 health care law, which Republicans have made their priority, Collins said, “There’s no perfect solution but we’re going to have to do our best to have a solution that works for most Americans.”
Former New York Gov. George Pataki, who briefly ran for the Republican nomination and criticized Trump throughout the election, said Thursday he hasn’t spoken to the president-elect since the campaign. But he added that he hoped the inauguration would begin a new chapter.
“I’m excited, this is a great tribute to America and I’m hopeful that tomorrow people will start to think not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans and try to work together to see that President Trump has a successful term,” Pataki said.
New York, which is also home to Trump’s former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, held its event at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Washington.
As is generally the case for state society balls, the New York gathering was bipartisan and the mood conveyed that. Trump memorabilia was minimal.
— Alex Gangitano (@AlexGangitano) January 20, 2017
New York Republican Rep. John Katko, who had called for Trump to drop out of the race in October after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape that showed Trump making crude remarks about women, also hoped Americans could lessen the divide exacerbated by the election.
“I’m optimistic and hopeful that both sides put their swords down and start working together for the good of the country,” he said.
Local companies provided auction items. Food samplings from New York companies included a 20-pound chocolate frame with a photograph of Trump and his wife Melania from Empire State chocolate maker Niagara Honeymoon Sweets.
The company, located in Collins’ district, was hopeful that the congressman would take the frame to Trump at the Inauguration Day luncheon. It also provided chocolate coins with Trump’s face inside a presidential seal.
Attendees also enjoyed cupcakes from students at the State University of New York at Cobleskill, dips from Pa’s Pistols in South Glens Falls, New York, and Colonial Ale from Long Island.