Victory lap: Trump heads for Indianapolis, Cincinnati

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – President-elect Donald Trump headed out on a victory lap Thursday, appearing first in Indiana to salute workers at a factory where he says he saved hundreds of jobs from moving to Mexico and then in Ohio on the first stop of a “Thank You Tour” to honor supporters in states that helped him to his stunning victory.

Thursday’s Midwest swing will be the first time that Trump, who has shown an early inclination to revel in the role of showman-in-chief, has barnstormed across the country since the campaign. But now his signature rallies will carry the imprimatur of president-elect. And both stops will feature Trump declaring victory after a campaign built on the lament that “we don’t win anymore” as a nation.

But now the question arises: Which Trump will appear at the rally?

A newly serious Trump embracing the gravity of the job who will conduct a spirited but formal rally befitting a president? Or will he revert to the campaign Trump, flying off the teleprompter with inflammatory remarks and encouraging raucous crowds chanting “Build the wall” and vilifying critics?

And some questions remain about the extent of victory at Carrier, which announced this week that it will keep an Indianapolis plant open. In February, the heating and air conditioning company said that it would shut the plant and send jobs to Mexico, and video of angry workers being informed about the decision soon went viral.

The Republican businessman made it a key theme in his campaign, pledging to save that factory and ones like it as part of his plan to rebuild the American manufacturing industry while preventing jobs from fleeing overseas. He said this week that Carrier had agreed to keep some 800 union jobs at the plant.

Trump says he didn’t mean it when he first vowed to stop an Indiana air conditioning company from shipping jobs to Mexico.

Trump said Thursday that the campaign-trail promise to save Carrier was initially only a symbol for the other manufacturing jobs he would save if elected. He said he thought it was too late to change the company’s plans.

He says it wasn’t until a week ago that he took his promise seriously, after watching a report about the Indiana company on the nightly news.

Trump says he called a company executive and helped negotiate a deal that would involve keeping about 800 union positions in Indianapolis that were initially set to be outsourced.

Seth Martin, a spokesman for Carrier, said Thursday that Indiana offered the air conditioning and furnace manufacturer $7 million in tax incentives after negotiations with Trump’s team to keep some jobs in the state.

Indiana economic development officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company’s decision is something of a reversal, since earlier offers from the state had failed to sway Carrier.

Trump threatened during the campaign to impose sharp tariffs on any company that shifted its factories to Mexico. And his advisers have since promoted lower corporate tax rates as a means of keeping jobs in the U.S.

“Big day on Thursday for Indiana and the great workers of that wonderful state. We will keep our companies and jobs in the U.S. Thanks Carrier,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

Trump will tour the factory with his running mate Mike Pence – who, as the outgoing governor of Indiana, was well-situated to aid negotiations – and then the president-elect will give a speech about the deal, aides said.

By enabling the plant to stay open, the deal spares about 800 union workers whose jobs were going to Mexico, according to federal officials who were briefed by the company. This suggests that hundreds will still lose their jobs at the factory, where roughly 1,400 workers were slated to be laid off.

Neither Trump nor Carrier has said yet what the workers might have to give up, or precisely which other threats or incentives might have been used, to get the manufacturer to change its mind.

“Today’s announcement is possible because the incoming Trump-Pence administration has emphasized to us its commitment to support the business community and create an improved, more competitive U.S. business climate,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Trump’s deal with Carrier may be a public relations success for the incoming president but also suggests that he has unveiled a new presidential economic approach: actively choosing individual corporate winners and losers – or at least winners. To critics who see other Indiana factories on the verge of closing, deals like the one at Carrier are unlikely to stem the job losses caused by automation and cheap foreign competition, and the prospect that the White House might directly intervene is also a concern to some economists.

The other victory Trump will celebrate Thursday is far more clear-cut: his own on Election Day.

Trump will hold a campaign-style rally in Cincinnati, the first of several stops on a tour this month. Trump, who has long spoken of feeding off the energy of his raucous crowds, first floated the idea of a victory tour just days after winning the election but has instead prioritized filling some Cabinet positions.

The rally in Cincinnati, which Pence also will attend, will take place in the same downtown sports arena where Trump appeared in late October and drew about 15,000 people in what was one of his loudest – and most hostile to the media – crowds of the campaign. Trump, who convincingly won Ohio, is also expected to hold rallies in battleground states including Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Michigan in the coming weeks, though details have yet to be announced.

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