Eight years after President Obama’s rise inspired his party to dream of decades of Democratic control in Washington, his party looked on Friday as President Trump put the final nail in those hopes.
A sizable chunk of Democrats didn’t even show, saying they couldn’t stomach — and in some cases refused to accept — Mr. Trump’s victory.
Those who did attend flashed a mix of glum, dejected or stoic expressions, as they wondered what to expect from the enigmatic new president.
“Usually when a candidate comes in, they come from a Democratic perspective or a Republican perspective — so you kind of know whether they will go and what they are about,” said Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., Pennsylvania Democrat. “But there is an uncertainty about where the president will be on an issue or in terms of his focus on an issue on a particular day or week. I hope we can [get a] better sense of that in short order.”
Usually members of the party that lost the White House set aside the first day for celebrating democracy, and while there was some of that, overall Democrats said they see their role as intense resistance.
Nowhere was that more clear than on immigration, where Democrats held a press conference to demand Mr. Trump soften his stand on an issue that helped carry him to victory.
“Donald Trump has coldly said people like my parents and those of us gathered here today have got to go,” said Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, California Democrat. “Well, Mr. President, I am American, and I am a member of the United States Congress, and I am here to tell you I am not going anywhere. Get used to seeing our faces.”
Little was out of bounds for criticism.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Mr. Trump’s inaugural address detailing a still-struggling economy and out-of-touch politicians sounded like a campaign speech and “ignores eight years of economic growth under President Obama.”
One Democrat who did seem to be enjoying the inauguration was Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who snapped with his GOP colleagues on the Capitol steps.
“I’m excited to be with my colleagues & fellow Americans as we watch @realDonaldTrump be sworn in as our 45th President,” Mr. Manchin said on Twitter.
He later issued a statement saying he looked forward to “continuing to build our relationship” with Mr. Trump.
Hillary Clinton powered through the event in a staid manner, months after coming out on the losing end of a showdown with Mr. Trump.
“I’m here today to honor our democracy & its enduring values. I will never stop believing in our country & its future,” she said on Twitter.
Michelle Obama, meanwhile, wore her disappointment on her face — sparking a blizzard of posts on social media featuring photos and videos of the steely eyed former first lady and quips about her lack of a poker face.
Gearing up for a fight over Obamacare, a number of Democrats wore “#ProtectOurCare” buttons.
Mrs. Pelosi said she was glad Mr. Trump didn’t mention the health law in his inaugural address.
Liberal groups said they’ll lead the resistance.
“This president clearly has no mandate,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “If and when he and his administration try to undermine climate action, assault our democracy or attack the people and places we love, he will face a wall of organized people who will fight him in the courts, in Congress, in the marketplace, in the states and in the streets.”
The first chances for Democrats will come on Mr. Trump’s nominees.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said he won’t allow them to speed through the chamber.
“Over the last several weeks, Republicans have made a mockery of the Cabinet hearing process trying to ham through nominees in truncated hearings, nominees with serious conflicts of interest and ethical issues unresolved,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor. “The president-elect’s cabinet is a swamp cabinet — full of billionaires and bankers loaded with conflicts of interest and ethical lapses as far as the eye can see.”
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