PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — At noon Friday, Donald Trump officially succeeded Barack Obama as president of the United States amid pomp and circumstance in our nation’s capital.
Rhode Islanders from both sides of the aisle were on hand for the inauguration, including members of the state’s congressional delegation. Reactions were mixed, as evidenced by posts on social media and statements released to Eyewitness News.
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U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse:
“As we observe the peaceful transfer of power, I’m grateful today to President Obama for his service to our country, and for the unfailing dignity and grace he and his family brought to the White House.
Leader Schumer today shared with our nation the noble words of Smithfield-born Sullivan Ballou, Major of the Second Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, made famous in Ken Burns’ PBS series, “The Civil War.” Major Ballou, who was killed in action shortly after writing that beautiful letter, described a love of country so strong that it justified great sacrifice to heal its deep divisions.
Our new President’s dark inaugural speech did little to inspire hope that he is ready to bring our nation together. I will work to find areas of common ground with the President where they serve the interests of Rhode Islanders, but I plan to hold him to his election night promise to be a “president for all Americans.”
I will stand up at every turn for the freedoms and values secured by Americans like Sullivan Ballou. Those shared values are what have for centuries made our nation a beacon in the world.”
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed:
“Today, Donald Trump was sworn in as President.
“He now has the awesome privilege and responsibility of leading the strongest, most resilient nation on Earth. He isn’t just the president of those who voted for him, he is the President of the United States of America.
“Our nation faces many complex economic, security, and technological challenges and the President’s decisions and actions will have a profound impact on people’s lives and our nation’s future.
“I am determined to uphold our national values and global alliances. As I always have, I will try to help build bridges rather than walls, and advance policies that expand opportunity for all Americans, not just the wealthy few.
“That was one of the darkest inauguration speeches I have ever heard. President Trump’s inaugural message briefly touched on unity, but for many Rhode Islanders his past words and deeds are rightfully worrisome. It is his responsibility to serve all Americans with respect.
“It is incumbent upon all of us to be engaged in our country’s future, to confront injustice, and to hold our leaders accountable. In our democratic system of checks and balances, the greatest check of all is the American people.
“America is constantly undergoing periods of renewal and realignment. What remains constant is the pillars of our democracy and the strength of our people. We can’t let apathy and cynicism set in. When civic engagement is high, America always thrives.”
U.S. Congressman David Cicilline:
“An Inaugural Address by the President is an opportunity to set forth a clear vision for the country with some specifics of the plan to make that vision a reality. I’m disappointed that President Trump did not do this today. The remarks he offered sounded more like a campaign speech addressed to the base of his political party, rather than a speech to the entire country.”
“Sadly, I think President Trump squandered an opportunity to reach out to the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for him last November with a strong message that would have helped to unite our country. Instead, he doubled down on divisive rhetoric, false bravado, and gaudy promises that have no basis in reality. The President painted an unnecessarily dark and negative picture of America. The entire world was watching this speech, and while we certainly have great challenges, America is by far the best and strongest country in the world.”
“Today, Donald Trump became the least popular person to ever take the oath of office as President. There is no mandate for his agenda, nor a clearer understanding of what that agenda really is, even after his address.”
“As I have always done, I will continue working with members of both parties to deliver results for Rhode Island. I hope President Trump will do the same.”
“If President Trump, however, intends to continue down the path he started today, dividing Americans and offering empty promises instead of real solutions, then I will continue to fight him every step of the way.”