CINCINNATI—The brawling Donald Trump voters got to know during the presidential campaign is back.
The president-elect returned to his campaign roots Dec. 1 in his first major public appearance since Election Day, holding court in front of thousands of adoring fans—and even announcing 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 defence secretary to retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis. Trump said he was supposed to unveil that next Monday, so he jokingly warned the Cincinnati crowd to “not tell anyone.”
Following the raucous rallies of his campaign, the president-elect had eased up on certain campaign promises, suggesting the U.S.-Mexico border wall could be part-fence and indicating no willingness to pursue criminal charges against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
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. In February, the heating and air conditioning company said it would shut the plant and send jobs to Mexico, and video of angry workers being informed about the decision soon went viral.
“Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences. It’s not going to happen. It’s simply not going to happen,” Trump said to workers at the Indianapolis plant.
Officials said this week that Carrier had agreed to keep some 800 union jobs at the plant. Seth Martin, a spokesman for Carrier, said Indiana offered the air conditioning and furnace manufacturer $7 million in tax incentives after negotiations with Trump’s team to keep some jobs in the state.
Setting the stage for a potential North American Free Trade Agreement showdown, Trump also announced his pick for the U.S. commerce post earlier this week. 79-year-old billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, who is a vocal critic of the trade agreement, was nominated Wednesday.
Ross co-authored an economic policy paper arguing that foreign sales taxes represent a backdoor tariff on American goods. The paper included a proposal to renegotiate NAFTA and a call for combating the use of foreign consumption taxes that render American-made goods less competitive.
Trump echoed the paper’s views in speeches throughout the campaign, but despite announcing his intentions to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has yet to take a post-election position on NAFTA.
The president-elect also has yet to name the next U.S. trade representative, who will be responsible for executing his campaign promise to renegotiate or cancel NAFTA.
—With files from Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press, as well as Julie Pace, Lisa Cornwell and Brian Slodysko of The Associated Press