WASHINGTON – Former presidents, lawmakers, governors and other dignitaries have arrived at the Capitol on a chilly but mostly sunny day that will serve as the backdrop to Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of the United States.
The U.S. Marine Band is playing on the West steps of the Capitol, right below where Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will soon take their oaths of office. Small groups of invited guests – all wearing masks — have begun filling up the widely spaced chairs, all protected by fencing, a wall and thousands of National Guard troops.
A convoy of black SUVs carrying prominent Americans, including former President Barack Obama and wife, Michelle, lined up to drop off the guests on the East side of the Capitol. At one point, South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, who was instrumental in helping Biden capture the party’s presidential nomination last year, fist bumped Barack Obama as they stood on the steps.
Congressional leaders, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, former Vice President Dan Quayle and others have taken their place on platform ahead of the swearing-in ceremony. Each arrival is announced over a loudspeaker and, in some cases, accompanied by a drumroll.
Among celebrities, former New York Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez is in attendance at the Capitol, as his fiancée, Jennifer Lopez, is performing.
Although Donald Trump chose to be the first departing commander-in-chief since 1869 to not attend the swearing-in of his successor, the entourage of well-wishers will include other prominent Republicans including Vice President Mike Pence and former President George W. Bush.
Former President Jimmy Carter will be the only former president not attending the ceremony.
Jeff Flake, a former GOP senator from Arizona who has been a prominent Trump critic, told reporters as he arrived that he wishes Trump would have attended the ceremony, but it won’t dim the importance of the moment.
“It’s one of the rites of passage for a president and the peaceful transfer of power. It’s the best day we have in terms of rituals, so I’m glad it’s happening,” he said. “We will have a president in the White House who models better behavior, who respects the office. And that’s something. I think Americans will sleep easier knowing that we have a more steady hand in the White House.”
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/01/20/inauguration-day-scene-us-capitol/4228542001/
View original Post