Like thousands of others in America on Friday, a number of Republicans from all parts of Maine made the trip to Washington D.C. to see Republican Donald Trump be sworn in as the nation’s 45th president.

Top-ranking Republican officials such as Gov. Paul LePage and outgoing Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett attended the ceremony, seeing the New York billionaire become president in person.

Among those attending was Lauren LePage, daughter of Maine’s two-term governor, who said in an interview later Friday that the day was “absolutely historic” and “really moving.” The 28-year-old Waterville resident, who is in her final year at University of Maine School of Law and works as executive director of Maine People Before Politics, an advocacy group formed to advance her father’s agenda, was also the Maine coalitions director for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during the campaign.

LePage said one of the biggest moments during the ceremony was seeing the former presidents and first ladies introduced before Trump was sworn in, highlighting the peaceful transfer of power between presidents.

“It showed this amazing tradition this country has,” she said.

LePage, who left to return home before the parade Friday evening, said they did see some protesters but that largely everything remained peaceful. “It was really energetic, we met some great people who we were sitting with, it felt very patriotic,” she said.

Rep. Ellie Espling, 43, of New Gloucester, said she thought the inauguration ceremony went well, even though she didn’t have a great view. She overall, there was a very positive energy in the crowd during the ceremony.

While the events on Friday, Jan. 20 were not without incident — notably when police and protesters clashed just blocks away from the inauguration, in which nearly 100 protesters were arrested — most Maine Republicans said they saw very little in the way of disruption. Espling said the first sign of protests that she saw came around 2 p.m., when she and a group were walking towards the parade. She said during the ceremony, everyone in the crowd around her had been positive.

“I think it’s just important when you can to be here to recognize the importance of having a peaceful transition of power,” Espling said.

Cape Elizabeth resident Laura Zejac, 47, said the experience at the ceremonies had been “wonderful.” As she was headed toward the parade Friday, she said the crowds at Trump’s speech — which was delivered around noon after he was sworn in — had been bigger than she expected, but said it was good to be around that level of participation, as there were people from all over the world in D.C. to see Trump sworn in.

“It’s been great to meet so many people,” she said.

As for Trump’s inaugural speech, which has been characterized as unusually condemning and pessimistic in tone for an inaugural speech, Zejac said it was a very good speech, and at times brought out the emotion of the crowd.

“He speaks to and for all the people,” Zejac said. “I thought the message was well received.”

Espling also said Trump delivered a good speech, saying the way in which the United States transition’s power between presidents is a luxury other countries may not have.

“That’s the most impressive thing to me,” she said.

Adam Ratterree, 35, of Belfast, was also moved by the ceremony. He was an early Trump supporter and helped organize grassroots support in Waldo County. After hearing the speech, he was convinced that Trump would be a president for all Americans and act in the country’s best interest.

“It was a breath of fresh air,” Ratteree said.

Aaron Chadbourne, a 33-year-old senior policy advisor for Gov. Paul LePage, said he didn’t know what to expect at the inauguration. Rather than disruptions and chaos, which occurred sporadically outside the security area, Chadbourne said the event was peaceful and well-organized, at least from his vantage points.

Chabourne, a native of Gorham, said he was fortunate to witness the peaceful transfer of power — a hallmark of America’s democracy.

“I think I was struck by the mood,” Chabourne said. “It was a very reverential atmosphere.”

Scott Thistle and Randy Billings contributed reporting.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: