This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Washington • When Robert Woodruff heard the three men in front of him praising Donald Trump, he leaned forward and embraced the strangers in a hug, spreading his arms wide over the backs of their rain-dotted ponchos. His wife, Anna, shook her head and laughed, pulling her tan jacket tighter around her neck.
"Where you guys from?" drawled one of the men, whose words poured out as white steam in the chilly air.
"Utah," Woodruff responded.
"So you know Donny Osmond?"
"I actually did the insulation at his house," Woodruff answered with pride. In a wraparound sort of way, he explains, it's the reason why he's here, attending Trump's inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
Robert Woodruff, 41, and Anna, 35 who have owned and operated three small businesses, including A1 Utah Insulation harbor high hopes that the nation's newly sworn-in Republican president will help companies like theirs with tax breaks, economic improvements and more support for American jobs.
The Mormon couple from South Jordan stood among the masses on a soggy section of grass, blending into the crowd peppered with red "Make America Great Again" baseball caps and American flags with Trump's face printed over the white stars. Flashes from cameras bounced across the waters of the Capitol Reflecting Pool, though the hundreds of thousands of attendees extended much farther than that becoming specks in the distance.
"I can't believe this is happening," Robert Woodruff said. "I almost cried but then I remembered Trump said not to cry."
As chants rolled from the back of the crowd forward, the couple added their voices to the shouts of "U-S-A." They swayed back and forth to both ease the nerves from attending their first inauguration and to stretch out sore muscles from standing for three hours.
The two believe Trump will shake up the White House and bring something new to the presidency, unlike the "diet Pepsi and diet Coke" choices they had before.
"He's not part of the political machine," Robert Woodruff said. "He doesn't want to lose."
Woodruff appreciates that perspective after losing his first business a time-share company in Park City after the 2008 recession. He lost his second, A1 Utah Insulation, in 2015 after he was cut out of sales by a bigger national company. He has operated his third, Smart Solar Utah, since August 2015. But though he's now raking in $200,000 a year, it's never been a cakewalk.
"You cross your fingers and spend $80,000 in advertising," he said.
With Trump, a businessman, in office, Woodruff hopes financial policies will be better crafted to help small shop owners. At the inauguration, he screamed "yeah" when Trump proposed to "buy American and hire American."
"He's talking about America first, American people first," Woodruff said. "That's what the government should look out for."
Woodruff wore two hats a Trump beanie and an inauguration ball cap one pulled down on top of the other. It may have been easy to support the president, he joked, but it was a tougher decision to choose between the headwear.
After light drizzle throughout the morning, sunlight partially broke through the clouds when Trump appeared on stage to take the oath. It then returned to rain as the president spoke. Some in the crowd jokingly called it "draining the swamp," while others proclaimed it was a sign of good luck. Most wore bright yellow, blue and orange ponchos.
Woodruff thought it was a miracle. He stuck a fist in the air and yelled "Donny T." Anna Woodruff clapped quietly, the sound muffled by her black gloves.
Anna tends to the couple's four kids, ages 1 to 10, including their homeschooling. She said "amen" when Trump spoke on education reform and applauded the president for showing her children that "they can speak their minds" as he did during his campaign.
In the middle of Trump's speech, Anna turned to watch as a woman protesting a few rows back was escorted away by police. The woman, dressed all in pink, carried a flag that said "no racism, no hate" that a Trump supporter had snatched away from her before security arrived. The small confrontation mirrored others during the inauguration where tensions ran high between demonstrators and attendees, mixed together in the audience.
The Woodruffs participated in a little dissent, themselves, booing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who both attended the ceremony. They quickly abandoned the effort, though, to hear the last words of Trump's sentences "past" and "future" as the sounds reverberated off the walls of the Capitol. Both spoke with the president as he concluded his speech.
"We will make America great again," they said in unison.