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In New York, A Trump Supporter Eagerly Awaits Inauguration Day

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For the millions of Americans who support Donald Trump, Friday's inauguration ceremony is a moment of celebration, hope and renewal. North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann met up with one of them this week, a millworker in northern New York.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Gary Varmette is a big guy with a thick beard and huge grin. When I ask him about Donald Trump, he lights up even brighter. Right off, he says he's frustrated. He thinks too many liberals and Democrats are trying to spoil this moment.

GARY VARMETTE: He is in. We need to back him up. We need to stop the protesting. We need to gather behind him and try to make the country great again.

MANN: On this afternoon, a few days before the inauguration, Gary works the floor of the new business he's opened.

VARMETTE: We dump them here. Here's where we count them. We

MANN: It's a bottle and can recycling shop on the outskirts of his tiny hometown, Crown Point, N.Y.

VARMETTE: It takes a lot of bottles and cans to pay bills.

MANN: This is just one of Gary's side businesses He's 55 and also works night shifts in a paper mill down the road, which barely leaves him time for his real passion, deer and bear hunting, but he says he doesn't mind.

VARMETTE: You've got to stand up for yourself and take care of yourself. Pull up your big girl panties and do it.

MANN: This is the ethic Gary thinks Donald Trump embodies, and Gary loves him for it. It's full-steam ahead. It's hard work and starting new businesses and not worrying about political correctness. He thinks fears about the new president are overblown. And all the controversy and the questions raised by some critics about the president elect's legitimacy - Gary thinks that stuff is downright un-American.

VARMETTE: We can't be divided. We need to back him up and go forward. Give him a chance.

MANN: I remind Gary that Republicans and Donald Trump himself spent a lot of years questioning Barack Obama's legitimacy, sometimes attacking his very Americanness. Gary kind of winces when I ask about all that. He doesn't like Barack Obama, but says the current president also deserves respect.

VARMETTE: Even with Obama - I don't care who's in there. They're voted in. Now get behind them and support them. They are the head of our country. Back them up. Help them out. Do your part.

MANN: I ask Gary what he thinks about the serious questions that have lingered and even grown since Election Day about Russia, about Donald Trump's business ties overseas.

VARMETTE: It's not that I don't care. There's (laughter) - there's always dirty politics.

MANN: Before Gary takes any of those concerns seriously, he says he'll need to see a smoking gun - clear evidence that Donald Trump crossed a big line - but he hopes it doesn't come to that. He hopes Donald Trump tackles ambitious things right out of the gate. I ask what tops Gary's wish list, and it's kind of a surprise - health care.

VARMETTE: Because if they yank out the Obamacare, then people are sitting with nothing, so I would love to see him nail that first. That should be the first thing - is nail the insurance so everybody's covered, so that people can have their health care.

MANN: So Gary Vermette is excited and hopeful and proud, but Donald Trump has also built huge expectations. Gary wants him to unite the country, and he wants proof that Republicans can deliver fast - replacing Obamacare with something a lot better. For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann in upstate New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.