Trump’s ‘Thank you’ tour gets off to rau­cous start

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Jonathan Lemire

Don­ald Trump re­turned to his cam­paign roots Thurs­day in his first ma­jor pub­lic ap­pear­ance since Elec­tion Day, re­sem­bling the pug­na­cious, brawl­ing cam­paigner more than the tra­di­tional pres­i­dent-to-be as he held court in front of thou­sands of ador­ing fans — and even an­nounced a Cab­i­net pick from the stage.

Trump’s first stop on this “Thank you” tour to salute his sup­port­ers was in Ohio and, ever the show­man, he made the sur­prise an­nounce­ment that he will be of­fer­ing the post of De­fense Sec­re­tary to re­tired Marine Corps Gen. James Mat­tis. Trump said he was sup­posed to un­veil that Mon­day, so he jok­ingly warned the Cincin­nati crowd to “not tell any­one.”

The rau­cous ral­lies dur­ing the Trump cam­paign road show of­ten had the feel of a rock con­cert, and Thurs­day night in Cincin­nati had all the hall­marks of a re­u­nion tour: Trump took a veiled swipe at fel­low Repub­li­cans. He re­mem­bered his gen­eral elec­tion foe by jok­ing, “We had fun fight­ing Hil­lary, didn’t we?” He boasted about size of his vic­tory and re­peat­edly bashed the me­dia. Pro­test­ers briefly in­ter­rupted the pro­ceed­ings. And the crowd chanted “Build the Wall” and “Lock Her Up.”

The pres­i­dent-elect had eased up on those cam­paign prom­ises re­cently, sug­gest­ing the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der wall could be part-fence and in­di­cat­ing no will­ing­ness to pur­sue crim­i­nal charges against Demo­cratic op­po­nent Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Per­haps be­fit­ting an encore pre­sen­ta­tion, the down­town arena that Trump packed in Oc­to­ber — draw­ing a crowd that was one of the loud­est of the cam­paign — was only about half-full Thurs­day night. But the thou­sands who were there cheered Trump as he de­clared to re­store Amer­i­can to great­ness, say­ing, “Now is not the time to down­size our dreams.”

“Never again will any­one’s in­ter­ests come be­fore the in­ter­ests of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. It’s not go­ing to hap­pen,” Trump thun­dered. “The old rules no longer ap­ply. Any­thing we want for our coun­try is now pos­si­ble.”

Trump did noth­ing to down­play ex­pec­ta­tions be­fore he takes of­fice, declar­ing that “Amer­ica will start win­ning again, big league.” Much like he did dur­ing the stretch run of the cam­paign, he read from teleprompters, but he was bom­bas­tic as ever, spend­ing more than a dozen min­utes brag­ging about his vic­tory be­fore out­lin­ing his eco­nomic plan.

He boasted about his wins in Mid­west states that nor­mally vote Demo­cratic, declar­ing he didn’t just “break the blue wall, we shat­tered it.” He veered off­script to make fun of a protester, say­ing she was be­ing ejected from the arena so “she could go back to Mommy.” He re­peated his re­cent threat that, de­spite Con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tions, “if peo­ple burn the Amer­i­can flag, there should be con­se­quences.” And he re­peated many of his sig­na­ture cam­paign prom­ises, in­clud­ing a pledge to “con­struct a great wall at the bor­der.”

And he stunned his own aides when he an­nounced the Mat­tis pick from the stage. Mat­tis, nick­named “Mad Dog,” is con­sid­ered one of the fore­most strate­gic thinkers of his gen­er­a­tion but to gain con­fir­ma­tion as Pen­tagon chief, he would need Congress to waive a re­quire­ment that a de­fense sec­re­tary be a civil­ian for at least seven years be­fore tak­ing up the post.

Mat­tis re­tired as chief of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand in 2013 af­ter serv­ing more than four decades in the Marine Corps. There is no sense of strong op­po­si­tion to his nom­i­na­tion in Congress.

Trump, who has long spo­ken of feed­ing off the en­ergy of his rau­cous crowds, first floated the idea of a vic­tory tour just days af­ter win­ning the elec­tion but has in­stead pri­or­i­tized fill­ing Cab­i­net po­si­tions. He is also ex­pected to hold ral­lies in Penn­syl­va­nia, Florida, North Carolina and Michi­gan in the com­ing weeks, though details have yet to be an­nounced. His sup­port­ers were thrilled that he had hit the road again.

“That he wants to do this, to take time out of his sched­ule to fly out here and per­son­ally thank the peo­ple ... shows what kind of man he is,” said Josh Kanowitz, 43. “He’s one of us.”

But while Kanowitz largely praised Trump’s ini­tial moves as pres­i­den­t­elect, he vis­i­bly re­coiled at the sug­ges­tion that he might pick Mitt Rom­ney as sec­re­tary of tate, say­ing the 2012 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee was “some­one we should leave be­hind as we move for­ward.”

Oth­ers at the rally also ex­pressed some hes­i­tancy at Trump’s picks, with a few sug­gest­ing that choos­ing for­mer Gold­man Sachs part­ner Steven Mnuchin as Trea­sury Sec­re­tary was not ex­actly ful­fill­ing Trump’s cam­paign prom­ise to “Drain the Swamp” and elim­i­nate cor­rup­tion and elitism from Wash­ing­ton.

But most were in­clined to give the pres­i­dent-elect the ben­e­fit of the doubt.

“He’s a busi­ness­man. He’ll pick tal­ented peo­ple to work for him and then keep them in line,” said Jaime Bollmer, a 28-yearold teacher from Lock­land, Ohio. “He’s a leader. That’s what lead­ers do.”

The rally in Cincin­nati was the sec­ond stop on a vic­tory lap through the Mid­west on Thurs­day, com­ing hours af­ter Trump saluted work­ers, own­ers and him­self at a Car­rier plant in In­di­ana. There he de­clared that a deal to keep a lo­cal plant open in­stead of mov­ing op­er­a­tions to Mex­ico was only the first of many busi­ness vic­to­ries to come.

Some ques­tions re­main about the ex­tent of the vic­tory at Car­rier, which an­nounced this week that it will keep an In­di­anapo­lis plant open.

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