CINCINNATI (Reuters) – President-elect Donald Trump kicked off his post-election “thank you tour” on Thursday by railing against globalization, promising the return of manufacturing jobs to American workers, and vowing to shut U.S. borders to some Middle East migrants.
Speaking in an arena that was about three-quarters full, Trump rallied the crowd by repeatedly attacking the “extremely dishonest” media and invoking the populist message that resonated with millions of voters.
“There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag and that flag is the American flag,” Trump said.
“From now on it’s going to be America first, okay?” Trump said as he stressed job-creation spurred by trade deals he intends to renegotiate, including the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The New York real estate magnate also announced that he would nominate Marine General James Mattis – calling him “Mad Dog Mattis” – to be his secretary of defense.
Noting an attack on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus earlier this week by a Somali immigrant, Trump said such threats against Americans were “created by our very, very stupid politicians; refugee programs.”
In order to keep the United States safe from further attacks, Trump said he will suspend immigration “from regions where it cannot be safely processed,” including some countries in the Middle East.
“People are pouring in from regions of the Middle East. We have no idea who they are, where they come from, what they’re thinking and we’re going to stop that dead, cold flat,” Trump said.
In the past, Trump also has said he would stop the entry of all Muslims into the United States.
In a Twitter message earlier on Thursday, Trump said: “ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations accused Trump of seeking to exploit the “tragic situation in Ohio.”
Trump’s remarks came at the end of a day in which he also traveled to neighboring Indiana to celebrate a decision by the Carrier Corp., an air conditioner maker, to keep about 1,000 jobs in the United States rather than move them to Mexico.
That decision came after Trump, during the long presidential campaign, publicly called on the company to retain the jobs in Indianapolis and threatened to punish American companies that move operations abroad with stiff import tariffs.
The company, which is owned by United Technologies (UTX.N), still intends to move 1,300 other jobs from Indiana to Mexico.
In the run-up to his Jan. 20 swearing in as president, Trump is expected to tour cities in swing states, like Ohio, that contributed to his shocking election victory on Nov. 8.
During a nearly hour-long speech in this southwestern Ohio city, Trump promised to deliver new tax cuts to the middle-class, roll back federal regulations that he said hurt companies and build a wall along the southwestern border with Mexico.
While he promised in the speech to talk about the “action plan” that would guide the beginning of his administration, Trump did not provide new details on policies he has been pushing since announcing his White House run in 2015.
In mocking detractors who did not think he could burst through the “blue wall” of states that have typically voted for Democrats, Trump proclaimed to roaring cheers, “We didn’t break it, we shattered that sucker.”
Over the past few weeks, Trump has mainly been holed up in the Trump Tower in New York City, weighing who to name to top jobs in his incoming administration.
He has interviewed several candidates for secretary of state, including the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who attacked Trump throughout the 2016 campaigns but lately has spoken glowingly of the president-elect.
On Wednesday, Trump said he would nominate former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin to lead the Treasury Department. Trump named Wilbur Ross, a billionaire known for his investments in distressed industries, as his nominee for commerce secretary.
In an interview with Fox News, Trump said he has whittled a list of potential Supreme Court nominees down to “probably three or four” and that an announcement would be made soon.
A seat on the nine-member Supreme Court has been vacant since last February, when Justice Antonin Scalia died and the Republican-controlled Senate refused to consider President Barack Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland.
Trump stirred controversy in recent days by suggesting that those who protest the United States by burning the American flag should possibly lose their citizenship or serve a jail sentence.
While flag burning is protected under the U.S. Constitution, according to a Supreme Court ruling, Trump nevertheless returned to the issue again on Thursday, telling his audience in Cincinnati: “If people burn the American flag, there should be consequences.”
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Doina Chiacu and David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney and Simon Cameron-Moore)
IMAGE: U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump speaks at event at Carrier HVAC plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Bergin