Upper Midwest politicians reflect on President Biden's inauguration

Minnesota's Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar delivered remarks at the ceremony, and the majority of members from Minnesota and the Dakotas were in attendance.

President-elect Joe Biden is seen during his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States as Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

ST. PAUL -- Despite the still-raging pandemic and size limits enforced on the ceremony, most of the Upper Midwest’s congressional delegation attended the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, Jan. 20, while a few stayed home.

The inauguration came just two weeks after extremist supporters of now former-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, violently breaking into the building to disrupt Congress’s certification of Biden’s victory. On Wednesday, Biden stood before the Capitol, took his oath of office and said he aims to unite the country during a deeply polarized time.

Also standing before the Capitol on Wednesday was Minnesota’s U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who had a particularly high-profile role in the day’s festivities: As the senior-most Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, she and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, spearheaded the ceremony’s planning and both delivered remarks.

Harking back on the Jan. 6 violence, Klobuchar said the rioters “desecrated this temple of our democracy, it awakened us to our responsibilities as Americans.”

“This is the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust, and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” she said to applause.


Inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States
U.S. President Joe Biden talks to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) during the inauguration of Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Klobuchar was the first to introduce Biden as president before he took the stage to deliver his inaugural address. And before U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered Harris’s oath of office, Klobuchar noted that the two women are, respectively, the country’s first Latina supreme court justice and first African American, Asian American and woman vice president in history.

The majority of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation attended the ceremony in Washington. U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., opted to watch the ceremony on television from home in Minnesota, according to a written statement.

A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., did not respond to repeated questions on his whereabouts, and Hagedorn did not issue a congratulatory statement for Biden, instead denouncing his first-day executive orders . Hagedorn was one of two Minnesota Republicans to vote against the certification of Biden’s win on Jan. 6 (District 7’s U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach being the second).

The Republican Governors of North Dakota and South Dakota, Doug Burgum and Kristi Noem, both attended in-person. Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Tim Walz did not attend, instead staying in-state, per a spokesperson.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-South Dakota, also attended the ceremony. In a tweeted statement , he said he was praying for Biden and Harris “on this historic day.”

“I hope that we can find common ground in the years ahead and work toward an even stronger future for the country and South Dakota,” he said.


North Dakota, Republican U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer was seen before the ceremony chatting with U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, who led the opposition to certifying the 2020 election results in the Senate on Jan. 6. Cramer, who voted to certify the election, in a Wednesday written statement congratulated Biden and Harris.

“While I did not vote for him or support his campaign, I appreciate President Biden’s desire to be a President for all Americans, and I look forward to working with him on issues where we agree and to having spirited debates on policies where we differ,” Cramer said.


Mearhoff is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. You can reach her at or 651-290-0707.
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