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Huntington residents head to D.C. for presidential inauguration


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. —  A handful of local residents will be mere yards away from Donald Trump during his presidential inauguration ceremony Friday, Jan. 20, in Washington, D.C.

In between sightseeing at the Washington Monument and meeting with U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., Huntington resident Anne Dandelet and West Virginia Sen. Mark Maynard said they were excited to attend the inaugural ceremony, parade and inaugural ball, which will be first-time experiences for both of them.

Dandelet is an active member of the Huntington Cabell Republican Women organization, and Maynard has served in the state Senate since 2014. Maynard also was a co-chairman for Trump’s West Virginia campaign.

Dandelet, 60, said she arrived in Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening, and she was on a bus headed to the National Mall when she talked with The Herald-Dispatch on Wednesday afternoon.

“The history of this place, I’m so impressed with it,” Dandelet said. “It’s kind of exciting to think about all of the people who have been here. It’s elegant. It’s monumental. It’s full of history.”

Maynard, 44, of Genoa, is leaving for D.C. today, and he said a reporter from The New York Times was meeting him in Wayne County to accompany him on his trip to the nation’s capital.

Maynard said he was a Trump supporter from the beginning, joining his campaign in December 2015. When Trump visited Charleston during his campaign in May, Maynard talked with the then-candidate one-on-one.

“Our main discussion was about how much effort it would take to get the coal mines back up and running,” Maynard said in an email to The Herald-Dispatch. “I assured him we can make it happen if the right things happen.”

In addition to the inaugural events, Dandelet said she and other people from West Virginia were meeting with Jenkins and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., ahead of the festivities.

Polls showed that 40 percent of Americans approved of Trump’s performance heading into the inauguration on Friday. In separate reports, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal put his approval rating at 44 percent.

On Wednesday, Dandelet said it was apparent that D.C. was in inauguration mode as fences were up near the White House and road closures were set to go into effect Thursday.

Dandelet said seeing the security precautions in place was interesting, but she didn’t expect any major protests, noting that she hadn’t seen any protesters so far during her trip.

The Associated Press reported officials estimate that 800,000 to 900,000 people will be present Friday for the inauguration, a celebration that takes over the city, closing roads, taxing the city’s Metro transit system and making getting around difficult. Trump himself has promised “massive crowds.”

Hundreds of thousands of others are expected Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington.

Carolyn Atkins, a professor and director of undergraduate programs in Speech Pathology and Audiology at West Virginia University, said Trump could have a more difficult task than most presidents in conveying a unifying message because many Americans have developed their own perceptions of him.

“Any two listeners can hear the same speech and have different ‘takeaways,'” Atkins said in a release from the university, adding that especially with regard to content, supporters will likely praise the message and critics condemn it.

“For example, Trump is described by supporters as bold, inspiring, mesmerizing, authentic, honest, sincere, real, outspoken, comedic, relatable, trustworthy and engaging and by critics as inappropriate, bigoted, chauvinistic, inexperienced, disrespectful, vulgar, rude, controversial, unprepared, incoherent, and narcissistic and arrogant,” Atkins said.

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