The Republican faithful gather in Denver for the inauguration
It was the tiniest of sounds – a small exhalation of breath.
In the midst of a roomful of mostly noisy people – about 100 – it was a sound you would have missed if you weren’t standing right there.
Shannon Moore gave a slight sigh of relief as President Donald Trump finished his oath of office.
The Denver resident was among those gathered at Pete’s Greektown Cafe on East Colfax. The faithful of the Denver Republican Party were there Friday morning to bear witness to the transition of power. They watched on two large TVs, newly installed just in time for Inauguration Day by the owner, Pete Contos.
Moore brought along his two sons, Aidan, a second-grader, and Gavin, an eighth-grader, to watch the inauguration. Wife Natasha explained that the two boys, who attend different schools in the Cherry Creek School District, wanted to see the festivities and their schools weren’t going to show the ceremony.
A few were misty-eyed. Most were excited and happy to see the end of the Obama presidency and the beginning of the Trump administration. Two women had their hands clasped together as if in prayer.
At 11:21 a.m.: “There’s just 39 minutes left of Barack Obama’s presidency!” shouted Jake Viano, a precinct captain who plans to run for chair of the Denver GOP.
What would they tell the new president if they had the chance?
Regina Serna of Denver said she’d thank him for running a great campaign and for bringing excitement to the country. “He knows the people,” she said. “He will unite the country because he understands people and knows where the divide is. He will bring respect back” to the nation.
“I’m happy to have a conservative-leaning government,” added Natasha Moore. Son Gavin, who helped with the campaign, said, grinning, that he’d ask Trump if his hair was real. Aside from that, Gavin said, he hopes the Trump administration works to improve schools, which he said are too one-sided in their teaching. Aidan shyly declined to share his message to President Trump.
“I pray he will have wisdom in dealing with Congress, because that will be one of his toughest negotiations,” said Jeff Hayes, the chair of the El Paso Republican Party. Hayes came up to Denver and to the Greektown Cafe in his bid for state GOP party chair. He wasn’t the only candidate for state chair to show up for the watch party. George Athanasopoulos joined in, too.
Athanasopoulos, who lost to Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in November, said he wants to know whom Trump will pick for the Supreme Court seat, vacated when Justice Antonin Scalia died almost a year ago. But in the first 100 days, Athanasopoulos said, he wants the president to reinvigorate the nation’s military. For too long, the military has not had a sense of purpose, which he said has gotten “fuzzy” in the last few years, with the prolonged war in Afghanistan.
The gathering was mostly middle-aged to older, and almost exclusively white. Ray Garcia, who ran for House District 1 in last November’s election, but lost, was likely the only Hispanic in the room. “Make us proud,” he said, excitedly.
Even the staff at Pete’s got into the act a bit. When Trump said during his inaugural address that he would end welfare and put people to work, one waitress pumped her hands in the air, and said “yes!” And Contos told the crowd he looks forward to a great four years.
A few remain in awe of Trump’s win. “I never would have believed it,” said Michael Dulude of Denver.
During the oath of office, the room was hushed and still. But when Trump finished the oath, one person took advantage of the silence to happily shout, “It’s over!”
Photo credit: Allen Tian, The Colorado Independent