President-elect Donald Trump announced retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his pick for secretary of Defense, during the first stop of his “USA Thank You Tour 2016” in Cincinnati Thursday night.
Trump set up the announcement saying, “Wait till you see what comes next week.”
“I don’t want to tell you. I want to save the suspense for next week,” he told the crowd of several thousand, asking them to not “let it outside.” “So I will not tell you that one of our great, great generals … we are going to appoint “Mad Dog” Mattis as our Secretary of Defense.”
Trump said he’s not going to make the announcement official till Monday and later said, “They say he’s the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have, and it’s about time.”
Mattis, 66, is a retired four-star general who led Marines in 20014 in the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq. There is no sense of strong opposition to his nomination in Congress.
Before Trump came to Cincinnati, he was in Indianapolis touring a Carrier plant where he took credit for saving more than 1,000 from moving to Mexico.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was with Trump in Indiana and Cincinnati, said Carrier chose to stay in Indiana “because America chose to make Donald Trump president of the United States.”
‘We did have a lot of fun fighting Hillary, didn’t we?’
Trump told the Cincinnati crowd that his gratitude for his election was “the second reason I’m here today. I’m going to discuss our action plan to make America great again. Although we did have a lot of fun fighting Hillary (Clinton), didn’t we?”
That was met with a chorus of “lock her up” chants, a familiar chant during the campaign about Trump’s promise to investigate Hillary Clinton over classified emails.
At one point protesters briefly interrupted the event and were escorted out of the arena.
Trump did not give a reason why Cincinnati was chosen to be the first stop in what’s being called the “USA Thank You Tour 2016,” but the Queen City was where he got his real estate start in 1962 managing an apartment complex that his father, Fred Trump, purchased for $5.7 million at a sheriff’s auction.
Among his many promises made Thursday, Trump said that “it’s time to remove the rust from the Rust Belt and usher in a new industrial revolution. We’re going to do it.”
Trump said America is operating backward of what it once had, saying, “It used to be that the cars were made in Michigan and you can’t drink the water in Mexico. And now the cars are made in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint, Michigan, What a difference.”
Trump hit the highlights of his plans, including repealing the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, working to create new jobs, stopping ISIS and terrorism and “we will finally end illegal immigration … and we will construct a great wall.”
A few state officials helped to introduce Trump and Pence, including Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted who just certified the state’s election earlier on Thursday afternoon.
Husted, who was critical of Trump’s claim during the campaign if he lost the election was rigged, said, “We’re not only going to make America great again but we’re going to make America greater than it’s ever been.”
Ohio’s top two elected Republican officials, Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Rob Portman did not attend the Cincinnati event.
Kasich press secretary Emmalee Kalmbach said Thursday “the event is not on his calendar.
Portman did attend a fundraiser with Trump in Cincinnati prior to the rally.
“Glad President-Elect came to my hometown of Cinci today,” Portman said on his Twitter account. He said he saw Trump briefly before heading to Columbus for the Ohio Republican Party Christmas party.
Trump is expected to hold other rallies in the coming weeks in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Michigan, according to the Associated Press.