Trump Transforms Carrier Deal Announcement Into Early Victory Tour Stop

Evan Vucci

President-elect Donald Trump announced a deal to keep jobs at a local Carrier Corp. manufacturing facility, basked in his unexpected election victory and went on a tangent about his plans to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall in a wide-ranging speech in Indianapolis on Thursday.

Trump kicked off his speech by complimenting a red-hatted attendee, presumably wearing one of his trademark "Make America Great Again" caps, and praising his own selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) as his running mate, who he praised for becoming "something very special."

He then touted his unexpected Republican primary victory in Indiana, which he described as a "tremendous love affair" in an apparent build-up to what aides have billed as his "thank you tour." Set to begin Thursday night with a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, Trump is scheduled to take a victory lap through key swing states as well as historically blue states that he won in the election.

"If you remember during the primaries this was going to be the firewall, where they were going to stop Trump. Right? And that didn't work out too well," the President-elect said to laughter. "The election we just won by 20 points, almost 20 points. That was some victory. That's pretty great."

Eventually Trump got around to explaining that he became involved with Carrier's plan to relocate Indiana jobs to Mexico after hearing about it on a nightly show—and couldn't resist taking a mid-segue potshot at his longtime enemy, the media.

"I'll never forget about a week ago, watching the nightly news. I won't say which one. But I want to give them credit because I don't like them much, I'll be honest. I don't like them. Not even a little bit. But they were doing a story on Carrier," he said.

The President-elect said that because of a "handsome guy" who said Trump had promised to keep Carrier's manufacturing jobs in the country, he decided to go ahead and contact the corporation.

"I said 'Carrier will never leave,' but that was a euphemism," Trump said. "I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in, because they made the decision a year and a half ago."

The President-elect said that he "didn't mean it quite that way" when he railed against Carrier on the campaign trail, but as a result of the comments from the "handsome man," he called up United Technologies chairman Greg Hayes.

"And he picked up the phone, 'Mr. President-elect, sir, how are you,'" he said, imitating Hayes. "It's wonderful to win. I think if I lost he wouldn't have returned my call."

Trump said that Carrier's parent company "stepped up" in response to his phone call and agreed to spend a minimum of $16 million on renovating its Indiana plant.

"One of the things we're doing to keep them is we're going to be lowering our business tax from 35 percent, hopefully down to 15 percent," he said.

The President-elect said his promises of a "major massive cutting of regulations," as well as a proposed corporate tax cut from 35 percent to 15 percent, enticed Carrier to keep more than 1,100 jobs in the country. He praised the company for its "flexibility" in striking the deal, but said such compromises would likely be an exception in his administration.

"We're not going to need so much flexibility for other companies because we are going to have a situation where they're going to know, number one, we're going to treat them well," Trump said. "Number two, there will be consequences, meaning they'll be taxed very heavily at the border if they want to leave, fire all their people, leave, make products in different companies, in different countries, and then think they're going to sell that product over the border."

He then went off on a tangent addressing his campaign promise to build a border wall with Mexico.

"People are saying, do you think Trump's going to build the wall? Trust me, we're going to build the wall and by the way, people are going to come through that wall," he said. "We're going to have doors in that wall, but they're going to come through legally and people are going to come through on worker permits to work the fields."

Finally, Trump scoffed at the idea that dealing directly with business leaders may not be "presidential."

"They say it's not presidential to call up these massive leaders of business. I think it's very presidential," he insisted. "And if it's not presidential that's okay. That's okay, because I actually like doing it."

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