President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday wrapped up his postelection victory tour, showing few signs of turning the page from his blustery campaign to focus on uniting a divided nation a month before his inauguration.
At each stop, the Republican has gloatingly recapped his election night triumph, reignited some old political feuds while starting some new ones, and done little to quiet the hate-filled chants of “Lock her up!” directed at Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Little changed at the tour’s finale at the same football stadium in Mobile, Ala., that hosted the biggest rally of his campaign. Trump saluted his supporters as true “patriots” with little attempt to reach out to the more than half of the electorate that didn’t vote for him.
“We are really the people who love this country,” said Trump.
He reminisced about his campaign announcement and his ride down Trump Tower’s golden escalator. His disputed a newspaper’s account of the size of the crowd at one of his rallies and bashed the press as dishonest. And he joked that he booked a small ballroom for his election night party so, if he lost, he “could get out!”
And he paid homage to the August 2015 rally here that he said jump-started his campaign. Though the crowd was not as large on Saturday, it was no less fervid, repeatedly chanting “Build the wall!” when Trump renewed his vow to build an impenetrable wall at the Mexican border.
“We’re thanking the people of Alabama and we’re thanking the people of the South because boy did we do well,” said Trump, who remained undeterred when it began to rain on the outdoor stadium. “We’ll stay out here. To hell with this suit. I never liked this suit anyway.”
Trump brought his nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, up onstage to receive cheers from his hometown crowd. When Trump’s plane landed, he received a water cannon salute from a pair of fire trucks and was then greeted by several Azalea Trail Maids, local women dressed in antebellum Southern Belle outfits.
The raucous rallies, a hallmark of his campaign, are meant to salute supporters who lifted him to the presidency. But these appearances also have been his primary form of communication since the Nov. 8 election.
Trump has eschewed the traditional news conference held by a president-elect within days of winning. He’s done few interviews, announced his Cabinet picks via news release and continues to rely on Twitter to broadcast his thoughts and make public pronouncements.
Within days of beating Clinton, Trump suggested to aides that he resume his campaign-style barnstorming. Though he agreed to hold off until he assembled part of his Cabinet, Trump has repeatedly spoken of his fondness for being on the road. Aides are considering more rallies after he takes office, to help press his agenda with the public — a possibility that Trump embraced from the stage Saturday.
Also in Mobil,e he acknowledged that “now the hard work begins” and ended with a plea for all Americans, including those who did not support him, to “never give up.”
After the Alabama rally, Trump planned to return to Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach estate. Aides said the president-elect probably would spend Christmas week there and could remain at the Florida resort until New Year’s.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.