A former Bartholomew County Republican Party chairman witnessed Mike Pence launch his political career, but Ted Ogle never had the opportunity to watch his friend sworn in as vice president.
Four years ago this month, Ogle — a 16-year member of the Columbus City Council and 10-year leader of the local Republican party — died of cancer at age 60.
When the memorial service for Ogle was held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Columbus, newly elected Indiana Governor Mike Pence delivered the key eulogy.
As Ogle’s widow watched Pence being sworn into office Friday while dining with a friend at Fourth Street Bar & Grill, Anne Ogle couldn’t help thinking how excited her late husband would be if he were alive.
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“Ted believed in Mike’s principles and values, and felt they were exactly what was needed in our government,” she said. “Ted stood behind those same values.”
Just a block away, however, Matthew Shepherd had a different mindset as he watched Pence and Donald Trump sworn into office while he was dining over the lunch hour at the Columbus Bar.
Shepherd expressed strong reservations about President Trump.
“It seems like a joke that has gotten out of hand,” said Shepherd, who cited national security, the unknown extent of Russia’s influence on the election, and Trump’s unorthodox demeanor as just a few of his strong concerns.
Such a range of opinions regarding the nation’s new president and vice president did not come as a surprise to Tim Clementz, who also watched the inauguration while having lunch at the Fourth Street Bar & Grill.
“From (Bill) Clinton to Trump, people always overreact to an incoming president, but then it always calms down after that,” Clementz said. “I expect to see the same with this president.”
Fourth Street patron Robert J. Smith said rooting for Pence should be no different than rooting for a local sports team in a big game, he said.
“I consider this a happy time since Columbus has a hometown hero at the White House,” Smith said.
However, Clementz said he suspects a lot of Bartholomew County residents are more fascinated with Pence’s celebrity than his politics.
“I’m sure we’d also be rooting for him if he were on (the televised reality show) ‘Survivor,’” Clementz said.
Brandon Freeman listened carefully at Jordy McTaggart’s Grill & Pub as Trump delivered his inaugural address.
“He called out Washington and all the craziness going on there,” Freeman said. “I was happy about that.”
But whether Trump’s address can help heal ideological differences among Americans, Freeman said “feelings are too far gone on a lot of fronts for that.”
While watching the inauguration coverage at Fourth Street, Bartholomew County Bar Association president Stan Gamso said he believes the current political climate is not healthy for anyone.
“I know that there’s a lot of dissent and unhappiness in the country,” Gamso said. “But it seems to me we need to accept what we have, come together and move forward.”