On the Mall, Trump supporters exult, ‘We’re here!’

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Attendees gather in the National Mall during Donald Trump's inauguration ceremonies to swear him in as the 45th president of the United States in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton - RTSWJ0N

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, since the November election, there has been a lot of talk about how well Mr. Trump connected with those voters who felt ignored or looked down upon by politicians.

Today, they had their moment to be heard.

Our Lisa Desjardins was on the Mall to listen to what some Trump supporters had to say.

LISA DESJARDINS: They came from across the country, many at their first inauguration, on a gray day that didn’t dampen their excitement and hope.

Marion Carpenter and Larry Sanders drove up from South Carolina yesterday.

MAN: We intend to follow him all the way.

LISA DESJARDINS: They traveled here with their church group, they said, because, before Trump, they’d seen their way of life disappearing.

MARION CARPENTER: The steel mills are gone. The coal industry is gone. People are hurting for jobs.

LISA DESJARDINS: The crowd didn’t reach as far down the National Mall as at President Obama’s inaugurations, but it was a devoted group.

Joseph Zadeh from Ohio hit on a theme for many Trump supporters, that seeing President Trump take office eased years of personal frustration.

JOSEPH ZADEH: I started being interested in politics midway through Obama’s second term. So, it’s like, as a Republican, it’s being told, oh, your ideas are stupid. And, finally, look, we’re here. We’re making America great again.

MARILYN BYERS: I’m a Marine mom. She’s a Navy mom.

LISA DESJARDINS: Kelly Haisley and Marilyn Byers are from Indiana, friends since high school. They drove nine hours to be here. To them, Mr. Trump represents a change in national priorities.

MARILYN BYERS: It’s been a real disappointment for eight years, and it’s time that we get back to grassroots and family values. We’re going to make America…

KELLY HAISLEY: Appreciating our military.

MARILYN BYERS: Amen.

KELLY HAISLEY: I just don’t feel our troops have been supported, and looking forward to them having a president and commander in chief that’s going to do that for them that loves America,

LISA DESJARDINS: Here, too, were some from a Democratic base, unions, like ironworker Tom Dwyer, who fought back pain to make it here. He’s a New Yorker, like Mr. Trump, and doesn’t trust politicians.

TOM DWYER: He’s a man of his word. I believe — like I said, I grew up in New York, in Queens. And he’s just part of the woodwork of New York. Well, when he says he’s going to do something, I believe that he’s going to do it, and he’s going to make it shine.

LISA DESJARDINS: Most came for Mr. Trump, but many, like these Delaware middle schoolers, came just to witness the peaceful transfer of power itself. Some of their parents admitted they didn’t support the new president, but told us their trip was about more.

For the PBS NewsHour from the National Mall in Washington, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

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