The first stop in Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE’s “thank you tour" quickly turned into a victory lap for the president-elect to revel in his surprising win and bash the naysayers who believed he had no shot at the White House.
Trump’s Thursday speech in Ohio largely mirrored the popular rallies that were a mainstay of his presidential campaign. Trump boasted about his upset of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' No Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way MORE, railed against the media and chided politicians that counted him out or refused to back him.
“Our victory was so great, we have the House, we have the Senate, we have the presidency,” Trump said at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. “People are constantly telling me and telling you to reduce our expectations. Now is not the time to downsize our dreams.”
He set his eyes on the “dishonest” media and the conventional wisdom that a blue wall in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin would buoy Clinton no matter what happened.
“How about when a major anchor who hosted a debate started crying when she realized that we won?” Trump asked the booing crowd, referring to ABC News’s Martha Raddatz, who appeared to tear up during election coverage as Trump’s victory became apparent. ABC pushed back on the claim in a Friday statement.
“This is ridiculous and untrue. Martha is tough and fair and not intimidated by anyone," an ABC News spokesperson said.
“[The media] was saying for months there was no way that Donald Trump can break that blue wall. We didn’t break it, we shattered that sucker. Man, that poor wall is busted up.”
And he criticized news outlets for waiting too long to call states like Pennsylvania, even when it became clear he was set to win.
Trump also took a shot at Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was a vocal opponent of the president-elect and never endorsed him, saying he didn't get support from "the upper echelon of politician" in the state.
Trump's off-the-cuff remarks may have taken his own team by surprise: He announced at the rally that he was in fact tapping retired Marine Gen. James Mattis for Defense secretary. The news had broken hours before in reports from CNN and Military Times, but Trump spokesman Jason Miller tweeted that no decision had been made. Trump told the crowd to keep the announcement under wraps, as it wasn't supposed to be made public until Monday.
While Trump’s speech largely morphed into a victory celebration, it started off on a more conciliatory note.
Trump called for the country to unify and denounced the bigotry that he said keeps the U.S. divided. Trump has been under fire for appealing to fringe elements on the right, including white nationalists.
"We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms,” Trump said. “We denounce all of the hatred and we forcefully reject the language of exclusion and separation. We have no choice. We have to, and it's better.”
"We spend too much time focusing on what divides us," he continued. "Now it’s time to embrace the one thing that united us: it’s America, because when America is unified, nothing is beyond our reach."
But his supporters in Cincinnati may not be there yet. They booed the mention of politicians and pundits who counted Trump out and revived calls to “lock her up.”
Trump used his message of unification to underscore the "America first" mindset that he trumpeted throughout his campaign. He pointed to the newly struck deal with Carrier to keep manufacturing jobs in Indiana as indicative of the economic success to come under his presidency.
He stopped in Indianapolis earlier on Thursday to celebrate his deal with the heating and air conditioning company to keep more than 1,000 factory jobs in the state. Some 800 were slated to move to Mexico with 300 transferring to North Carolina, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Trump said that while “globalism is wonderful,” America needs to “focus on our national community.”
"We seek peace and harmony with the nations of the world. But that means recognizing the right of every country, including our own, to look after its citizens,” he said.
"One of the reasons we are so divided today is because our government has failed to protect the interest of the American people and their families, making it too easy for us to see ourselves as distinct groups, not unified as a whole."
Trump will be crisscrossing the country this month to continue celebrating his stunning victory. He defied most polls that had him losing to Clinton, and he unexpectedly carried Rust Belt states that typically trend blue in presidential years.
He won the Ohio by 8 points, a perennial battleground state where he narrowly led in the polls in the final weeks.
There’s no definite schedule for the remainder of the “thank you tour," but Trump’s advance team director recently said the route may also include visits to “swing states we flipped over.” Trump said on Fox News's "Hannity" later Thursday evening that he expects to make about 10 stops.
As he closed his speech celebrating his meteoric rise, Trump promised better days ahead for all Americans, even those who didn’t support him.
“We are the nation that won two world wars, that dug out the Panama Canal, that put a man on the moon and satellites all over space,” he said.
“But somewhere along the way we started thinking small. I’m asking you to dream big again, and bold and daring things for your country will happen once again.”