Tears rolled down Pat Donnelly’s cheeks Friday afternoon as she watched Donald Trump’s inauguration on a television screen at Bibb County’s GOP headquarters.
“I think the emotion mostly stems from how we have all felt so helpless for so long,” said Donnelly, a volunteer for the Bibb County GOP. “We’re kind of like an old-timey quiet majority that we just sit there and watch our liberties being taken away.
“We’re just happy that we have a spokesman, somebody that is not a politician. ... (Trump) has just been our spokesman of how we have felt about things. Sometimes he’s too brash, but he gets his message across.”
A few of the other two dozen or so people who’d gathered to watch Trump take the oath were also misty eyed.
The tone of the gathering wasn’t all tearful, though.
As Mike Pence was sworn in as vice president, one man exclaimed, “Joe Biden is out of office! No more free trips to Hawaii!”
There were claps and cheers. One woman repeatedly said “bye!” each time the camera focused on former President Barack Obama.
Donnelly admitted that Trump was not her first pick for president.
“My first comment was, ‘Oh, no. The man has no decorum,’” she said. “Then I thought, ‘Well, I’m a Republican. He’s our candidate. I support him.’ As time has gone by, I supported him very joyously.”
Calvin Palmer, chairman of the Bibb County GOP, said that “everything (Trump) said was so poignant.”
“I mean everything, he just plopped it out. Illegal immigration to making jobs and the country belonging back to the people,” he said. “I think people feel there’s a new optimism in the country. There’s a breath of fresh air and ... we’ve been set free to be left alone and go out there and make a living. That’s what we feel like.
“We’ve pushed the reset button. We’re ready to go now.”