President-elect Donald Trump vowed to “keep America safe” by cracking down on immigration from the Middle East and favoring “stability” in foreign policy.
Speaking to a raucous audience of thousands of supporters in Cincinnati, Ohio at the start of what his staff have billed as a “Thank you” tour of the American Midwest, Trump seemed to double down on key campaign promises about Muslim immigration and a wall on the Mexican border.
“The job of the president is to keep America safe, and that will always be my highest priority,” Trump said.
“We will do everything in our power to keep the scourge of terrorism out of our country. 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,” he said.
“People coming into the country have to have the potential to love us, not to hate us,” he said.
He added: “We will stop looking to topple regimes. Our goal is stability, not chaos, because we want to rebuild our country. It’s time.”
Trump also used the address to take a stance against hatreds: “We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms,” he 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.”
Also at the Ohio rally, he made the surprise announcement that he will be offering the post of Defense Secretary to retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis. Trump said he was supposed to unveil that Monday, so he jokingly warned the Cincinnati crowd to “not tell anyone.”
Trump has spent the weeks since his surprise election victory on November 8 dialing back some of his promises, suggesting the Mexico border wall could be part-fence and indicating no willingness to pursue criminal charges against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
But, he told the crowd, “Now is not the time to downsize our dreams.”
“Never again will anyone’s interests come before the interests of the American people. It’s not going to happen,” he thundered. “The old rules no longer apply. Anything we want for our country is now possible.”
Trump did nothing to downplay expectations before he takes office, declaring that “America will start winning again, big league.”
He repeated his recent threat that, despite Constitutional protections, “if people burn the American flag, there should be consequences.” And he repeated the pledge to “construct a great wall at the border.”