Laura Evans knew she had found her candidate in November 2015, when Donald Trump ended his first campaign speech in Davenport, Iowa by telling his audience he loved them.
“His emotion was real and so was mine,” said Evans, who lives in Taylor Ridge. “I felt this man is my next president, and I’m going to do whatever I can to see him inaugurated.”
Little more than a year later, Evans, 72, held a front-row ticket to watch Trump take the oath as 45 th President of the United States. She joined hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters and protesters who converged on Washington for the inauguration.
Trump’s pro-life stance, as well as his hardline position on national security, convinced Evans that Trump was the president for her. She supported the businessman since the start of his campaign, making calls, handing out yard signs and even convincing the liberals whom she plays bridge with that Trump could indeed “Make American Great Again.” This is the first inauguration she has attended.
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“I have not had the desire or the inclination, wanted to come or felt the need to come for an inauguration before,” she said, adding: But “this is a great time to be alive, and I’m so thankful I’m here to experience it.”
Sheri Diekman made the 14-hour drive in her “Republican red” convertible with Evans to witness Trump being sworn into office. As in the case of Evans, this is Diekman’s first inauguration, and Diekman, from East Moline, also worked for Trump since the start of his campaign — she said she even spoke at the Iowa caucus in support of Trump.
“I’m hoping that he’ll maybe change people’s idea of good morals and good family values,” said Diekman, 71. “My big thing at my age is to vote for whoever I feel is the best for my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. That’s the future.”
She said she feels confident that Trump will bring jobs back to America, will support stay-at- home moms and people’s right to choose schools. She admires his lack of political correctness, and called previous Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders “communists” whose policies would land more Americans out of work.
She said that those who have planned protests on inauguration day are out to delegitimize the Republican’s win.
“To protest is divisive and stupid,” said Diekman. “They are acting like spoiled brats who didn’t get their way, and I for one am upset with their childish behavior.”
Ben Wocken, originally from Collinsville, takes a more moderate stance on the protesters.
“In a democracy you’re going to have different voices from all over the spectrum and this is the people’s city,” he said with a shrug.
The self-described news-hound recently moved to Virginia from Germany, and planned to attend the inauguration no matter who won in the presidency. He declined to comment on which candidate he voted for, but “the older I get the more conservative I’ve trended,” he said.
Wocken, 32, an Air Force radio broadcaster, said he’s impressed with Trump’s nomination of Marine Corps General James Mattis as secretary of defense and is encouraged by the new Trump administration’s priority toward defense spending.
Wocken arrived in Washington on Thursday after a four-hour train ride. He said he’s most excited to feel the energy of the crowd Friday.
“Inaugurations are America’s party,” Wocken said.