WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sparse crowds walked the National Mall, snapping pictures and taking in the moment, as the country prepares to inaugurate President-elect Donald Trump in less than 24 hours.
Even as vendors sell pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton merchandise steps from the capitol and families with their ‘Make America Great Again’ hats roam around, pockets of resistance to the new administration percolate to the surface.
“Barack Obama will go down as one of the greatest presidents we’ve ever had,” said Margie Purkerson of Pensacola, Fla., as she got caught in a war of words with a ‘Biker for Trump’ in front of the Capitol.
“Are you here to support our (new) president?” the biker, who would not give his name, asks.
“No, I am not,” Purkerson said defiantly.
“You know how this man got here?” the biker said.
“I don’t know, the Russians?” Purkerson snaps back.
“We the people,” the biker said before walking away.
This confrontation was perhaps predictable as Purkerson and her friend, Diane Krumel, were decked out in pro-Obama shirts and buttons reading ‘Stronger Together’, the campaign slogan for Hillary Clinton.
The two said they are in town for the women’s march on Saturday, but will not attend the inauguration tomorrow.
“We will join our voices with 300,000 women to let (Trump) know that we will not be silent; that all these issues that we’ve worked for, all these women issues, and everything we’ve stood for and worked hard for and he thinks he’s going to take away from us? We’re not going to stand for it,” Krumel said.
Krumel and Purkerson, coming from a strong pro-Trump area, believed that his message of “fear” and “making America great again”, used over and over again, appealed to a lot of people.
“It’s not only a sad day for America, it’s a sad day for the world,” Krumel said.
Elwood Garlock of Cedar Rapids, Iowa also got some stares from the pro-Trump crowd. The middle-aged white man proudly wore his Hillary Clinton hat and said he would attend the women’s march as well.
“I want people to know that Hillary really got screwed,” he said.
He added that women have gotten “the big, bad deal all the way” and that Trump’s rhetoric towards several groups made him far from presidential material.
“He’s far from what you’d call being a good presidential material,” Garlock said. “The language, the way he uses things, the way he treats women, the way he treats the Muslims, the way he treats minorities and so on. That’s not a president.”
While there were a few tense moments, the atmosphere in the capital overall remains mellow even as Trump, who arrived in Washington just past noon, takes the oath of office tomorrow.