WASHINGTON (AFP) — Donald Trump is poised to take office with the lowest approval ratings of any new president in recent history, but despite a chaotic transition Americans trust the billionaire on one crucial point: jobs.
Since the real estate developer’s White House win in November, companies have lined up to announce new factories or jobs in the United States, including air conditioning manufacturer Carrier, Japan’s SoftBank, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Amazon with a headline-grabbing promise to create 100,000 jobs.
The latest additions to the growing list: Wal-Mart announced Tuesday it would invest $6.8 billion in the United States and create 10,000 jobs, General Motors announced $1 billion in new US investments and pledged to create 5,000 new jobs.
Trump — who since his election has wielded a mix of threats and incentives to push an America-first jobs agenda — has been quick to take credit.
“With all of the jobs I am bringing back into the US (even before taking office), with all of the new auto plants coming back into our country and with the massive cost reductions I have negotiated on military purchases and more, I believe the people are seeing ‘big stuff,'” he tweeted on Tuesday.
Trump last month denounced the $4 billion price tag on the next presidential plane, which is currently under development, threatened to cancel the order unless the price came down.
Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of the aviation giant Boeing, visited Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday, telling reporters he and Trump were “on the same page” about the cost and value of the jet.
The president-elect’s message appears to be resonating.
Sixty-one percent of Americans believe it is likely the 45th president will be able to create good-paying jobs in economically challenged areas, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday.
The same percentage expects Trump to do a good or excellent job in handling the economy, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released the same day.
But this confidence in Trump’s ability to boost American job creation stands out as the exception, with polls suggesting an overall distrust of Barack Obama’s successor.
Trump is half as popular as Obama was when he was preparing to take office in January 2009, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll. He is less popular than any other incoming US president of the past four decades, going back to Jimmy Carter.
The latest surveys confirm the findings of other recent polls.
Trump slammed the findings, pointing out that a majority of surveys ahead of his November 8 electoral win predicted victory for his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
“The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before,” he said on Twitter.
The president-elect was to leave Trump Tower for a few hours Tuesday to visit Washington, where preparations for his inauguration are underway.
On Sunday, organizers carried out a rehearsal of the ceremony and parade, with a military officer who is the same height as Trump standing in for the president-elect.
Miles of barricades were going up, blocking off the central axis of the city running from the White House to the Capitol, where Trump will be sworn into the highest office of the land at noon on Friday.
Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers and protesters were expected to take in the ceremony from the sprawling National Mall.
Some 28,000 security forces will ensure the safety of the event, with some already on duty in the streets of Washington.
One major security challenge is the hundreds of thousands of protesters expected to descend on the capital, for both the inauguration on Friday and a major protest march planned for Saturday.
Protests during presidential inaugurations are not unusual, with George W. Bush targeted by anti-war demonstrators in 2005 after his re-election.
But this year, more than 40 Democratic lawmakers have said they are boycotting the inauguration, the vast majority of them in support of Congressman John Lewis, a 76-year-old icon of the civil rights movement.
The Georgia congressman Lewis made waves last week when he told an interviewer that he does not see Trump as a legitimate president, citing intelligence that Russia interfered in the November election.
Trump lashed out on Twitter, criticizing Lewis’s district as crime-infested and saying the man who marched with Martin Luther King was “all talk talk talk — no actions or results.”