President-elect Donald Trump exulted in his surprise victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, mocking critics who said before the election that polls showed he had no path to the White House.
“We won in a landslide. That was a landslide,” Trump said Thursday at a victory rally in Cincinnati, the first of what he said would be about 10 stops on a “Thank You Tour” to celebrate his win.
Trump won the presidency on Nov. 8 with 306 Electoral College votes, though he lost the popular vote to Clinton by more than 2.4 million votes so far. The Rust Belt states of Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — all of which President Barack Obama won at least once — were key to Trump’s victory, as white working class voters responded to his promises to crack down on undocumented immigrants and restore manufacturing jobs lost to the forces of globalization.
At his rally, Trump mocked an unnamed television pundit who he described standing in front of an election map “saying for months there’s no way that Donald Trump can break the blue wall” of Midwestern states.
“We didn’t break it, we shattered that sucker,’’ Trump said. “That blue wall is busted up.’’
Earlier in the day, Trump toured of a Carrier factory in Indianapolis that will remain open, employing about 1,100, after the firm’s parent company, United Technologies Corp., negotiated with Trump to rescind plans to shutter the plant and move its work to Mexico.
“We’re going to do that all over the country,” Trump vowed in Cincinnati.
Trump said that it was important for a “divided” country to unify, and that he was the leader to do it. “I know you find that hard to believe,” he joked.
But he also belabored divisive subjects: immigration, his animosity toward the press, his political opponents, his recent proposal to make flag-burning a crime punishable by loss of citizenship.
At one point, he made a prop of a lone protester who was removed from the crowd. Trump turned to face the man and shrugged his shoulders. “They don’t know that Hillary Clinton lost a few weeks ago,” he said.
He repeatedly referred to Evan McMullin, a Republican who challenged him in Utah as an independent candidate, as “that guy,” and gloated that McMullin even lost to Clinton in the state. “What the hell was that guy trying to prove?”
And he used the rally in part to settle scores.
“The people back there, the extremely dishonest press, very dishonest people,” Trump said.
A dig followed against Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican who challenged him in the presidential primary and then refused to endorse him against Clinton.
“In the great state of Ohio, we didn’t have the upper-echelon of politician, did we?” he said, as the crowd’s boos against the press grew even louder. “Your governor, John Kasich, called me after the election and he said, ’Congratulations, that was amazing.’ He couldn’t believe how much we won Ohio by or how much we won the election by.”
In the crowd, Trump supporters said they were impressed by his deal with Carrier and weren’t overly concerned about his cabinet selections so far, which are dominated by wealthy Wall Street figures and generals, most of them white men. Trump announced at the rally that he would nominate Marine General James Mattis to be his defense secretary.
Michael Toms, 49, a Cincinnati periodontist and Republican, was at first disappointed that Trump is considering 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney for secretary of state. But he said he came to see it as a sign of maturity for Trump, given Romney’s staunch criticism and opposition to the billionaire during the election.
“I’m not sure I could do that,’’ Toms said.
Toms’s wife, Jennifer, 43, wearing a “Women for Trump’’ T-shirt, said she voted for Obama twice and was disappointed by the results.
“There is no Democratic Party anymore,’’ she said. “It’s too far left and socialist. Trump wants to protect our country and put Americans first.’’