By BRITAIN EAKIN, TIM RYAN & BRANDI BUCHMAN
WASHINGTON (CN) – Braving a cold drizzle before sunrise, hundreds have gathered Friday in the shadow of the Capitol to get a glimpse of history for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Already Looking to the Future
“I bet you haven’t seen a 2020 Trump card,” said Tom Mendenhall, 68, putting aside his Trump 2016 banner to show off the genuine article. “We’re ready to go.”
Wearing a Make America Great Again cap over a winter beanie, Mendenhall made the trek from Columbia, Missouri, where he was an assistant state coordinator for the Trump campaign.
“I’m feeling so good you wouldn’t believe it,” he said.
In a Trump administration, Mendenhall said he is looking forward to the president-elect “cutting back on a lot of these regulations” and “getting things going again.”
“It’s going take a while to drain the swamp,” the voter acknowledged, but said the Democrats had their chance.
“They haven’t done anything really for the working guy or anything,” he said. “They’ve had eight years, and we’re another $9 trillion in debt.”
Fool Me Once
Eli Valentine had a short trip out to the inauguration from Virginia Beach. He said he hopes to show that there are black Trump supporters.
“I got fooled by Obama,” Valentine said. “I thought that Obamacare was going to be something that was going to be really good for America. It turned out backfiring on us. I don’t like how our position has weakened in the world. Our military seems to have weakened under President Obama.”
Valentine voted for Obama in 2008 but jumped behind Trump when the billionaire announced he would be running. He said he believes Trump will deliver the American dream for his children.
Mary Glaston said she was thrilled to be in town, but the smattering of rain this morning has caused one regret.
“I wish I wouldn’t have worn this dress,” Glaston said, touching the hem of a beige mohair shift. “It’s Dolce & Gabbana. I regret wearing it, but at least the shoes are right.”
On her feet, the wealth adviser sported Adidas tennis shoes with gold accents.
“I’ve been ready for this moment since November, and I’m ready to see a peaceful transition of power,” Glaston said.
Dr. W.R. Elizondo, 86, has been invited to four inaugurations, but Trump’s is the first he’s attended. After the festivities today, the former Marine sergeant and his wife will fly to France on Saturday for a ski trip. His fur hat boasts nearly a dozen pins from past European ski vacations.
Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, Elizondo said he thinks Trump is bringing people together. “I think he’s got the vision, I think he’s got the desire, he’s got the motivation, he’s got the energy – the youthness – even though he’s 69 or so,” Elizondo said. “But I think that he can do it because he’s got the drive.”
Elizondo is excited about job creation under Trump, who turned 70 in June. The voter came to the inauguration armed with photographs he and his family have taken with past presidents like Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy.
“I thought it would be important to see President Trump because he depicts a lot of things that have happened in me and my wife’s lives,” said Elizondo. “And it’s a great kind of new beginning that we ought to have, and I think that it exemplifies what can be done if you really set your mind to want to do something.”
Time for Change
Tammy Mark stood outside the stage with her tobacco-chewing husband, Ken.
“I belive in this man,” the Tennessee homemaker said of Trump. “I want to see him succeed, and I wish people who didn’t would give him a chance. There’s no point arguing any more, it’s done.”
As far as Trump’s first day on the job, Ken is hopeful.
“Whatever it is, it’ll be a hell of a lot better than the last eight years,” he said.
Mary Jensen brought her family from Illinois after her daughter suggested going to the inauguration. To beat the crowd, the Jensens left their Washington, D.C., hotel at 3 a.m.
“We’re here to see some changes made,” Jensen said. “We’re here to see the government move in another direction.”
The Jensens were not always Trump supporters. In the Republican primary, they had initially supported Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio.
In addition to their excitement to see Trump take office, Jensen said her family is eager catch a glimpse of Chief Justice John Roberts, who will administer the oath of office. Roberts is an alumnus of the same high school as Jensen’s daughter.
Listen to the Hat
“Make America Great Again,” said Matthew Cohen, a finance investor from New York who picked up his younger brother Chase in Philadelphia on his way into town.
Wearing a crisply starched tie festooned with American flags, Cohen explained that he is a fervent supporter of the president-elect and proud to live in a country where voters can celebrate the peaceful transition of power.
“Partisan politics aside, that’s why we’re here,” Cohen said.
Golden State Supporter
“This is the most momentous, incredible accomplishment,” said James Shanbrom, a Trump activist from Los Angeles.
Shanbrom sees Trump as “a regular Joe, a regular guy who cares about the people.”
“He went against all the odds, all the machine and then won,” Shanbrom added .”So I feel like America is saved, that’s how we feel about it.”
New Yorkers Stick Together
Originally from New York City, amateur photographer Richard Wachtel now lives just a metro ride away in Alexandria, Virginia.
“Oh, yeah, I voted for Trump,” said Wachtel. “I liked the blunt talk, maybe because I’m from New York. I liked his foreign policy toward Israel, which was a big switch from what Clinton was going to do.”
Wachtel doesn’t see the email scandal as a deciding factor, but it didn’t endear him to the former secretary of state.
“I didn’t like how Hillary Clinton disregarded [the rules around] her email server and didn’t pay attention to national-security concerns,” he said. “And I’m just tired of the same old, same old.”
Security guards let Wachtel in with a large camera in tow but snatched his $55 laptop bag.
“I’m fine with that,” Wachtel said. “It’s worth it to see him.”
Mother and daughter Sharon and Deana Hurd came to Washington for the inauguration by bus from Tennessee.
“We have met so many good people here today, and we’re happy to celebrate this victory,” Hurd said.
As small-business owners, the Hurds are certain Trump has their best interests at heart.
“You bet,” Hurd said. “He’s the best there is and knows business. That’s what we all need right now to make America great again.”