Biden inauguration sparks bipartisan calls for unity from local leaders to battle big problems

The inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday united a bipartisan group of local and state officials who said Americans should work together to overcome the nation’s ills.

U.S. Reps. Warren Davison, R-Troy; Jim Jordan, R-Urbana; and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, attended in person. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, attended virtually, in line with Biden urging Americans to help stop the spread of COVID-19, according to his office. Spokespersons for U.S. Reps. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, and Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, did not respond when asked if they attended in person.

Former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, attended the inauguration. But President Donald Trump, who was impeached last week on a charge of inciting insurrection in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, refused to attend and left for Florida Wednesday morning.

In his inaugural address Biden, a Democrat, promised to work hard for all Americans, including those who did not support him. He said that with unity, the nation could overcome its deep problems.

“We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities, much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain,” Biden said.

Here are some of the reactions to the inauguration from local and Ohio officials:

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley

“Today so clearly marked the start of something new. From seeing a Black, South Asian woman rise to the second highest office in the land to President Biden’s commitment to be a president for all Americans — there is no doubt we are in a new moment. However, our challenges are not yet behind us. As Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman so poignantly said, ‘Being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.’ We have much work to do as a nation to heal and build back, and I so look forward to having a partner in the Biden-Harris administration as we take on that task.”

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy

“It was an honor to represent Ohio’s 8th District at today’s Presidential Inauguration. Clearly, there will continue to be differences, but I appreciated President Biden’s efforts toward unity in his speech. I am looking forward to finding common ground where possible while continuing to defend freedom, solve problems and serve people, rebuild our economy, and assert the principles that make America the land of opportunity.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton

“I have worked with every president from Bill Clinton onward to advocate for our community and strengthen our national security. I will work diligently with President Joe Biden, whom I know personally and have worked closely with. Thank you to the Capitol Police, National Guard, and all those who are working to ensure a peaceful transition of power, which is vital to our democracy.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana.

“This is as close to pageantry as we get in America. This day — this and the State of the Union address — I just think it’s important that, that you attend those events.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

“Today, I join Ohioans and the rest of the nation in celebrating the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. American workers will finally have someone on their side in the White House, and millions of girls — especially Black and brown girls — all over the country are seeing that there is no limit to their dreams, and they belong in every room where decisions are made. I look forward to working with President Biden, Vice President Harris and my colleagues to rise to meet the challenges before us, bring our country together and continue our fight for the dignity of work.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

“I extend my congratulations to President and Dr. Biden, as well as Vice President Harris and Mr. (Doug) Emhoff, on today’s historic inauguration. I had the honor of attending, and I look forward to working with the new administration on areas where we agree in order to make a difference in the lives of Ohioans and all Americans. When we disagree, I will do so respectfully.”Public service is a noble calling and anyone who serves deserves the respect of the American people, regardless of political affiliation,” Portman said.

U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati

“President Biden largely struck the right tone in his inaugural address, such as the importance of uniting the nation and working together to solve the problems we face. Among the issues that should be tackled in a bipartisan manner are expediting the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the American people and repairing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.” If we are to achieve these goals, the President’s actions will need to mirror his aspirational words,” Chabot said in a Facebook post.

U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus

“President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are the perfect team to lead our country during these exceptionally trying times. They recognize that we must stand united as Americans—not political foes—to defeat COVID-19, expand economic opportunity, and ensure equal justice for all,” Beatty said.

Lee Hannah, Wright State University associate professor of political science

“Biden understands this moment and the current state of our polarized politics. And in many ways, his inaugural address was written for an audience of those that did not vote for him, as much as it was for his supporters. President Biden is hoping this speech will be viewed as a call for unity — both calling out how polarization has brought us to the brink but also listing off the number of challenges that need to be addressed by a united country.”

Credit: Larry Burgess

Credit: Larry Burgess

Christopher Devine, University of Dayton assistant professor of political science

“President Biden’s inaugural speech can be summarized in two words: unity and optimism. He used the word ‘unity’ throughout the speech, probably more than any other, particularly when discussing the nation’s political divisions and its response to the coronavirus pandemic, among other issues. And his tone was one of unrelenting optimism — that the United States could overcome these challenges if we worked together and in good faith.Of course, unity and optimism are standard themes for most presidential inaugurals. But Biden’s speech is a stark contrast to the dark vision of ‘American carnage’ that President Trump described at his inaugural four years ago. And I think that was the point, for Biden to signal the return to a more traditional style of presidential leadership and calm the nation at a time when we must be unified in order to confront major political, social, and health crises.”

Mark Caleb Smith, director of Cedarville University Center for Political Studies

“It is common for incoming presidents to call for unity and for moving forward in inaugural addresses. But given the unique divisions left over from the Trump Administration, President Biden was presented with an actual opportunity to appeal to moderates, independents and slivers of the Republican Party....I think President Biden took full advantage of his moment. Of course, governing brings consequences. We will see if he leads in a way that can earn the good will and support of a clear majority of Americans. It will be a blessing to the country if he does.”

Mark Owens, chairman Montgomery County Democratic Party

“I was moved by the inauguration and President Biden’s speech. His call to bring the country together rang loud. He knows that it won’t be easy but he is going to be caught trying. The theme that democracy prevailed was one that all Americans can take pride in.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken

“Today marks the end of President Trump’s four-year term, a presidency of promises made and promises kept to the American people. Under his leadership, we reduced taxes and regulations; renegotiated unfair trade deals; stood up to China, defeated ISIS; negotiated deals in the Middle East; strengthened our military and provided for our veterans; protected the sanctity of life; appointed hundreds of conservative judges.”

Ohio Democratic Party Chairwoman Liz Walters

“Last November, Americans turned out in record numbers to elect new leaders who will bring us together, heal our country and restore the soul of our nation. Starting today and in the coming days and weeks, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver much-needed relief and ensure justice for all Americans. We look forward with resolve and restored hope in our shared future.”

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