Unlike a lot of congressmen, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta reached the dignitary seats behind where Mr. Trump would take the oath of office by 9 a.m., 2½ hours before the inauguration ceremonies began.
At first, he sat closer to where Mr. Trump would stand to take the oath and deliver his inaugural address, but a Capitol police officer suggested he stand closer to the top. That way, he could still see Mr. Trump when others in the rows below stood up.
Mr. Barletta sat in the second row from the top.
“I didn’t think at the time that this would be where they would be coming in,” he said.
He wound up getting terrific pictures of Mr. Trump, his wife, Melania, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden entering for the swearing-in and got to say hello to all the ex-presidents and other dignitaries who entered. You should be able to find the pictures on our website eventually.
Five American presidents — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Mr. Trump — walked by him, “which I thought was pretty cool,” Mr. Barletta said.
“I got to say hello to five presidents today,” he said.
He shook hands with Vice President Mike Pence as he entered and Mr. Trump patted him on the shoulder.
“I had a chance to say a few words with President Obama,” he said. “I thanked him for his service to our country and he wished me luck.”
Mr. Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr., thanked him for his efforts in Pennsylvania.
“Eric joked on the way out that, ‘I didn’t think a Pennsylvania guy would need hand-warmers,’” Mr. Barletta said. “I had gloves and hand-warmers. I got thin blood … It got even better because every time they opened the doors real warm air came out. I thought this is a homerun.”
The thanks from the Trump boys meant a lot, he said.
“It made me feel good, how hard we worked and how important Pennsylvania was and they didn’t forget it,” he said. “To me it was personally satisfying because of the way the whole thing happened, sticking my neck out (to endorse Mr. Trump early on) and then today was the day where I sat back and reflected on the whole experience. His getting elected the 45th president is something I won’t forget.”
— BORYS KRAWCZENIUK