Wyoming politicians, leaders head to D.C. for Trump inauguration
CHEYENNE – Many of the Wyomingites who will attend Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration said they are honored to witness the swearing-in of the Republican businessman as commander in chief in the nation’s capital.
Gov. Matt Mead will join Wyoming’s congressional delegation and at least two dozen other Wyoming Republicans in attending the inaugural events, which include the swearing-in ceremony on the National Mall, the inaugural parade and the inaugural balls.
“It not only has great historical significance but also represents the peaceful transition from one president to the next, which is the hallmark of our democracy,” said David Bush, Mead’s spokesman. “Events like the inauguration are good opportunities for Gov. Mead to meet members of the incoming administration, discuss Wyoming’s priorities and show love of country.”
U.S. House Rep. Liz Cheney said Wednesday that she would be at the inauguration and criticized the dozens of House Democrats who have said they are boycotting Trump’s inauguration. She said she had sat on the platform behind the podium at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, even though she didn’t vote for him or agree with his policies. She also sat on the platform in 2001 when President George W. Bush won the office after an extremely close race.
It was moving to see the country come together to swear in the new president after such a tough election, she said.
“I don’t have a problem with those 40 members of Congress never voting for a single thing Trump wants to get done, or publicly criticizing or attacking him,” she said. “But I think it’s really dangerous when you start to see people say, ‘Well, we’re going to stay away and we’re not going to be there for that transfer of power.’ Because that’s just so much at the heart of who we are.”
There are two official black-tie soirees Friday night — the Liberty and Freedom balls. There are events before the inauguration, including a gathering of the Republican National Committee, which was expected to meet in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday.
Wyoming GOP Chairman Matt Micheli will be attending the RNC meetings, during which the party leadership will select a new national chairman, since current chairman Reince Priebus is leaving to serve as Trump’s chief of staff.
On Friday, Micheli said he’s been instructed to board a bus at 5:30 a.m. to travel to the swearing-in ceremony, which begins four hours later. At noon Eastern, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. will administer the oath of office to Trump on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Micheli said he’s debating whether to go to the ball. He may meet up with old friends who live in the Washington area, he said.
From Casper, Bonnie Foster — chairwoman of the Natrona County GOP and director of the New York business mogul’s Wyoming campaign — said she will attend with her husband.
Also from Casper will be Judy Catchpole, former Wyoming superintendent of public instruction, and Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming and former Wyoming House speaker, who will attend with his family, Foster said.
“I’m anticipating seeing protesters,” Foster said. “But that’s nothing new.”
Tens of thousands of demonstrators were expected to descend on Washington this week. There will be a women’s march in response to Trump’s comments about females. Marijuana activists are planning to distribute joints, and members of the American Federation of Government Employees are organizing a union march.
Supporting the inauguration will be 15 soldiers and airmen from the Wyoming National Guard. Two photographers will document the event, and 13 members of the Air National Guard’s 153rd Security Forces Squadron will assist with keeping people safe.
From Jackson, Jan Larimer, a former leader of the RNC, will attend, Micheli said.
Foster said she is beside herself that she gets to take in a historic event.
“I am thrilled this girl who grew up on a farm gets to go to the inauguration,” she said. “I wish my dad was alive to see I could do this.”
Star-Tribune staff writer Elise Schmelzer contributed to this report.