WASHINGTON —For Donald Trump supporters who stood on the National Mall watching the inaugural festivities on the Jumbotron, his address was a sign he’s recognizing the gravity of the office he now inhabits.
“It was powerful,” Nicky Crais, said, carrying her 7-year-old daughter Ellie on her shoulders.
“I like that he emphasized that it was our day, America’s day,” her husband, who declined to give his name, citing his position as a diplomatic attaché for the military. “He’s communicating outside the capital to people in the countryside.”
The couple said they drove in from Virginia Beach, Virginia, so that their two young daughters could be present for the “historic” day.
A light rain fell as Trump gave his address and wide swaths of the mall stood unoccupied. Protesters holding “No more walls” and “Trump is racist” signs cut across the lawn, while high school students in matching yellow beanies squinted up at the screen.
“I thought the speech was great,” John Falk, a biometric salesman who traveled 22 hours by bus from Cincinnati to New York City to Washington, D.C., to attend the ceremony, told TPM. “I liked that he sounded presidential, inclusive.”
“He didn’t say the “I” word once,” said his friend Dino Roscigno, who described himself as an “actor, director and security guard” from New York. “That’s more than I can say about a certain someone I can think of.”
“He was magnanimous,” Falk continued. “He thanked Michelle and Barack Obama for the smooth transition when in reality we know it was much rockier than that.”
“He could’ve criticized those Democratic lawmakers who didn’t come and he didn’t,” Roscigno added.
“It was more statesmanlike,” Falk said. “I hope it’s a sign of things to come. He always has the Twitter bomb and he can pull out that weapon if he needs to, but I hope this is a sign he’s ready to assume the mantle, the weight of the job.”
The two men had come to D.C. with their friend Omer Halilovic, a self-described socialist who stood to the side taking intermittent drags on an American Spirit cigarette and bobbing along to Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” a Trump campaign rally favorite.
In 2008, Roscigno lost a bet with Halilovic on Barack Obama winning the election. Roscigno paid for his plane ticket to the capital so he could watch the inauguration. This year, their roles were reversed.
“This time, I bought his ticket, and I took a picture with this cap,” Halilovic said, pointing to Roscigno’s red “Make America Great Again” hat. “I put it on Facebook.”
Though he said Trump’s politics in no way represented his own, watching him give his inaugural address didn’t bother him.
“For me, this is a symbol of democracy,” he said. “You had an election and people voted in it. We lost.”
The medium-sized crowd began dispersing as soon as Trump’s speech wrapped. At least towards the back of the crowd, near the Washington Monument, the mood was relatively subdued.
“He made a lot of good points,” Jake Ryder, a 25-year-old who said he voted for both Mitt Romney and Trump said. “I just hope he lives up to expectations.”
Robert and Tina Beard, married federal government workers who took the Metro down from Clarksville, Maryland, seemed nonplussed as they departed.
Though Tina Beard had a Trump button pinned American flag scarf, she shrugged when asked how the speech went.
“It was fine,” Robert Beard said. “We’re not so much Trump supporters as we have Obama fatigue.”