A former Democratic state representative will join Republicans in a ceremony Aug. 1 to mark the unveiling of a Trump portrait on the third floor of the Colorado Capitol, where portraits of all other U.S. presidents hang.
Former State Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver) said he decided to speak at the event not because he likes Trump but because the presidential portraits at the Capitol “rise above politics and rise above the political nature of that building.”
“Whether I agree or disagree with the men whose portraits are hung in that gallery, they are, at the end of the day, the presidents of the United States,” said Pabon, who left office this year after eight years of service.
“A lot of this goes back to my feelings and thoughts about how President Obama was maligned and mistreated, and horrible things were said about him from the other side,” said Pabon. “And I think at some point, someone has to rise above that. And I think this is one of those occasions that is enshrined in the Capitol’s history to do that.”
“Just thinking about it from the public’s perspective, they see all 44 portraits, and then obviously it’s missing the 45th,” said Pabon. “And I would hate to have someone surmise that politics were involved for not placing that portrait on the wall. I think there are certain areas [of the Capitol] that are nonpolitical or post-political, and I think that gallery is one of them.”
In response to previous articles about the Trump portrait, many readers objected to artist Sarah Boardman’s positive portrayal of Trump with a “serious, non-confrontational” and “thoughtful” expression, as Boardman put it.
Readers suggested, among other things, that Trump’s expression be more reflective of anger and impetuousness, not non-confrontational thoughtfulness–or that bars be placed in front of Trump.
Other critics expressed the opinion that the Trump portrait should not be placed in the Colorado Capitol at all, arguing that a president who so deeply undermines American values and institutions need not be honored like other presidents.
Asked if he plans to criticize Trump during his remarks at the unveiling of the portrait, Pabon said, “I don’t think I will actually address Trump directly in any way.”
“It’s not about him as the person,” Pabon said. “It’s about him as the president. I think I will stick to comments much along the lines that I’m giving you today.”
Pabon noted that he was probably invited to speak at the unveiling of the portrait because he’d donated to the Republican fundraising effort to pay for the portrait.
“Every President – regardless of their political party – deserves a portrait in the Colorado State Capitol,” said former State Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City) in August news release, calling Trump a “populist” whom many Coloradans support and adding that he can’t wait to see “another beautiful piece of art” in the rotunda.
Grantham will speak at the Trump-portrait-unveiling ceremony, along with Boardman, State Sen. John Cooke (R-Greeley), Pabon, and State Rep. Kevin Van Winkle (R-Highlands Ranch).