WASHINGTON – Idaho residents who attended Donald Trump’s inauguration came away with very different opinions of the 45th president of the United States and his supporters.
Where some saw the potential for action, others saw hate.
Idaho GOP Chairman Steve Yates was in Washington for the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, which was scheduled so that members also could attend the inauguration.
The process of transferring power, he said, is “what makes the U.S. special.”
“Just the pomp and circumstance of being at the United States capitol, seeing several former presidents there in person, who’ve gone through this process, it’s just a really amazing ceremony to witness,” the Idaho Falls resident said.
Trump’s inauguration, he said, was particularly “fun and interesting,” because the 45th president’s campaign was “a very populist movement.”
“It brought a lot of grassroots activists to the campaign, and a whole lot of those activists were there (Friday),” he said. “(They) reacted extremely positively and enthusiastically to(Trump’s) speech.”
Yates said inaugural addresses are “meant to give a very clear indication of the highest priorities and principles that are going to guide an incoming president.”
He thought Trump clearly summarized his motivations: “helping the American worker,” making “better trade agreements” and returning to a “America first approach.”
“That’s a lot to accomplish in a short speech,” Yates said. “I think he did it very well.”
“He clearly set a tone for his brand of engagement with the world,” Yates said. “The address proves that Trump will get to work on Day 1.”
“I think it’s going to be ambitious, in the sense of getting under way as soon as possible,” Yates said. Fast confirmations of Trump cabinet nominees will be “a good sign” that the administration is ready to move forward on its campaign promises, he said.
Teacher Gretchen Spooner is in Washington with four of her students from Idaho School for the Death and the Blind in Gooding.
“The message that ‘we need to be united’ is very typical of any president starting out, and that is the goal,” she said. “Even though we have divisions all over the place, it is important that we pull together for the good of the country.”
Her group is among students, decked in matching navy and yellow scarves, in Washington thanks to the Envision Experience.
“The goal of the summit is to engage students to be active participants,” she said. “Teaching students to be involved.”
Trump’s checkered history talking about disabled communities, Spooner said, is “a great area of concern for the entire area of special education in the nation.”
“So far it appears that there’s just a lack of awareness,” she said. “I’m just gonna have to wait and see how the chips fall.”
“I know he’s got big ideas, we’ll just see how much of it follows through,” she said, listening to Trump’s speech. “What impacts they have, we don’t know.”
Maya Pickens, 12, attended the inauguration with her mother Terri, father Mark and cousin Theressa Schiers. The four wore hand-decorated scarves that said “Not my president.”
They traveled to Washington for Saturday’s Women’s March, but got tickets to the swearing-in through Sen. Crapo’s office.
Maya and her family expressed disappointment in the behavior of fellow attendees.
“They were rowdy, annoying and mean,” she said of the Trump supporters near her. “I didn’t want to raise up my scarf, because I felt someone was going to hurt me.”
As soon as the family arrived, they felt the “bad energy” of the crowd and made a safety plan for quick escape.
This is the first inauguration Maya attended, and she said she found it to be both dangerous and a good experience.
The four retreated to the 21st Amendment Bar and Grill after Trump’s address. “I need a drink,” Terri texted.
Terri said she had several “profound moments” during the ceremony. One was when the crowd around her booed Hillary Clinton, which she called “rude and disrespectful.”
Another was right before the newly sworn-in president gave his address.
“As soon as Trump took the stage to start speaking, it started raining,” Terri said. “I said, ‘this was the point that earth started crying.’ That moment when he stood forward, that moment became reality.”