Hawaii Republicans buoyed by the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump gathered this morning at Big City Diner on Auahi Street to celebrate a new era of American politics.
They cheered as Trump appeared on television at the start of the inauguration ceremony and many said they wanted to enjoy the moment in the company of like-minded Trump supporters in an island state dominated by Democrats.
Like others, Charlie Goodwin, the retired Special Agent in Charge of the Honolulu FBI field office, had high hopes for the country — and for Hawaii — from a Trump administration.
“I’m hoping there will be more economic benefits for everyone,” Goodwin, 65, of Hawaii Kai, said long before the sun rose over Honolulu.
Goodwin especially hopes that Trump shows more support for law enforcement, among a long list of steps that Goodwin believes will help the country — “whether it’s business or the military.”
“First of all, he needs to bring jobs back to the United States,” Goodwin said.
Specifically for the islands, Goodwin said, “I’m optimistic Trump is going to rebuild the military, which is important for Hawaii.”
Pete Di Rocco, 69, of Kailua, a retired Customs and Border Protection agent, said he was one of the original three Hawaii Republicans who got Trump’s name on the Hawaii ballot.
Di Rocco grew up in Queen’s and has long been a Trump supporter.
“I grew up not far from where Donald grew up and I’m a big fan of his because he’s a man of his word,” Di Rocco said.
Di Rocco expects that Trump would question the wisdom of the oft-criticized Jones Act that affects shipping throughout the Pacific and likely would want to see more “accountability” for Honolulu’s financially troubled rail project.
Di Rocco especially hopes Trump makes good on his campaign promises to shore up America’s borders and boost the U.S. military.
If Trump faces any push back, Di Rocco said, “I expect him to use the bully pulpit to call them out for being obstructionists.”
Di Rocco has not been as excited about a U.S. president since Ronald Reagan.
Chris Predergast, a 63-year-old real estate broker from Pearl City, was slightly more muted than the 62 others who gathered at Big City Diner.
“I’m not hook, line and sinker for any candidate,” Predergast said.
Predergast said he had been “actually excited about President Obama” but he “sides more with Republican values.”
“Hawaii will see the benefits of a fiscally conservative administration,” Predergast said.
Trump critics, Predergast said, had “painted a false narrative (about Republicans). We are not misogynists. We are not racists. We are not anti-union. The opposition party did a real good job of painting that picture.”
Predergast hopes that Trump will make life better for average Americans and invigorate young Republicans, especially in Hawaii.
Until then, Predergast remained cautious about what might come next.
Today’s inauguration of Trump, Predergast said, “is like a wedding reception where everyone is smiling. Starting tomorrow, the nitty-gritty begins.”