Utah contributes hundreds of voices, one absent Senator for inauguration

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WASHINGTON D.C. -- One of Utah's Senators stayed away, and more than 300 Utahns took the microphone between the Vice President's and President's oaths of office Friday.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir lent their voices to the moments between the two oaths, singing "America the Beautiful," to the gathered crowd and the national TV audience.

"The Tabernacle Choir did an extraordinary job as they always do, and there's no better setting for them to perform than right in front of the Capitol," said Boyd Matheson, President of the Sutherland Institute.

The absent Senator was Orrin Hatch.

"I'm not sure where he was exactly, but he was the designated survivor today," Matheson said.

The term "designated survivor" refers to a person in the line of presidential succession who stays away from a major political event to take leadership in case of a catastrophe.

Hatch issued this statement on being selected to fill the role of designated survivor:

“Today, we observe a time-honored tradition of the world’s oldest democracy: the peaceful transition of power. This changing of the guard from one president to another is a defining feature of our Republic. At the request of President Donald Trump, I am honored to fulfill the role of designated presidential successor during the inauguration."

“As much as I would have liked to participate in the ceremony and festivities, I am honored to perform this important constitutional duty, which ensures the continuity of government.”