LACONIA — Two local public figures had given serious thought to attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, but with growing concerns of demonstrations and even possible violence, only one will be making the trip.
Charlie St. Clair bought his train ticket for the trip before the November election. Now he’s planning to take the overnight train next Tuesday night which will get him into the nation’s capital five hours before Biden is scheduled to take the oath of office at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.
St. Clair, a Democrat who until served in the state House, said reports of possible unrest have him somewhat worried.
“I’m apprehensive,” said St. Clair, who first got to know Biden back around 2000 or 2001 when both attended Amtrak Customer Advisory Board meetings held outside Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden has loved Amtrak since he was a young senator commuting between his home in Wilmington and Washington. He is planning to arrive by train for his inauguration.
Carlos Cardona also considered attending the inaugural festivities, but decided Wednesday not to go because of the potential for unrest.
Cardona, who is head of the Laconia Democratic Party, said the fact that some Republicans in Congress continue to act unfazed by last week’s storming of the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump only added to his anxiety that violence could erupt again on Inauguration Day.
Instead, Cardona plans to watch the ceremonies along with some friends on Zoom.
This will be the first presidential inauguration St. Clair has attended. He’s not sure where he will be when Biden takes the oath of office on Wednesday at noon. He said he might hang around Union Station for a time in hopes of seeing Biden when he arrives by train.
Security surrounding the event will be extraordinary. The National Guard has plans to have up to 15,000 of its troops to meet current and future requests for the inauguration. The dramatic increase in troops comes as law enforcement in the nation's capital and around the country brace for further extremist violence amid the transition of power.
The incoming Biden administration has been discouraging people to travel to DC for the inauguration, citing the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
St. Clair is taking a video camera with him to record the events of the day from whatever vantage point he has. He plans to show the images on the “Today In Focus” program which he and Jennifer Anderson co-host on Lakes Region Public Access Channel 25.
“It’s sad it can’t be a normal inauguration, but it’s an inauguration and I want to be there,” St. Clair said.