President-elect Donald Trump has concluded his "thank-you tour" — a series of rallies to celebrate his election victory last month — with a speech in Alabama recounting his view that "dishonest" news reporters tried to depict him as a Republican candidate who could not win.
Trump told an audience of several thousand people in Mobile, a city of about 200,000 people in the Southern state, that his campaign was "set up" by unfair reporting.
"Liars," Trump said, repeating an accusation called out by an audience member. "They [his media opponents] all know what they're doing, but it didn't work, and that's why we're all here together."
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Trump spoke with relish as he took the crowd at the rally on a state-by-state recap of election night, with votes steadily piling up in his favor. To audience members who shouted, "Lock her up!" at a mention of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, Trump replied, "Nah. We won."
Trump claimed the Clinton campaign had stockpiled $7 million worth of fireworks to celebrate her election victory. His staff offered to buy the pyrotechnic display "for 5 cents on the dollar," Trump contended, but "we never heard back from them."
Trump was joined at Saturday’s rally by Republican Party Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama; his pick for U.S. attorney general.
Tweets on China
Saturday evening, Trump took to Twitter to blast China for, as he described it, ripping a research drone out of the water in the South China Sea.
“We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back. — let them keep it!’’ he tweeted, a few hours after the U.S. military announced it had reached an understanding with China for the return of the U.S. Navy’s unmanned underwater glider.
According to the Pentagon, the drone was seized Thursday while collecting unclassified scientific data in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety.
China said its military seized the underwater glider to ensure the safe navigation of passing ships, but would give it back.
It was not immediately known what effect, if any, the president-elect’s tweet would have on the agreement with the Chinese.
Relations were tense between the U.S. and China following Trump’s phone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on December 2.
He later said he did not feel “bound by a one-China policy’’ regarding the status of Taiwan, unless the U.S. could gain trade or other benefits from China.
China considers the self-governing island its territory to be recovered by force if it deems necessary.
Campaign promises revisited
Of his former Republican opponents, Trump said, "We're all friends now." He repeated his familiar pledges to build a wall at the Mexican border and renegotiate U.S. trade deals, and emphasized his intention to begin what he has called "extreme vetting" of would-be immigrants, in order to weed out extremists.
"I am going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country," Trump said, to loud cheers from the crowd. "We have no choice."
Trump said he was particularly keen to return to Mobile on his post-election tour. The city was the scene of a very successful rally in August, an outpouring of support that the president-elect's staff members said gave Trump a strong push forward in the final phase of the campaign.
"This is the last time I'll be speaking at a rally in a while," Trump said shortly before wrapping up his speech in Mobile late in the afternoon.
"They say, 'As president, he shouldn't be doing rallies.' But I think we should," he told the crowd. "We've done everything else the opposite."
Tough fiscal policies expected
From Alabama, Trump flew to Florida to rejoin his family, who arrived there Friday for an extended Christmas holiday. Aides said the president-elect most likely would spend the next week at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, hosting meetings and relaxing with his family.
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Earlier Saturday, Trump announced his choice for White House budget director: U.S. Representative Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican known as a strong advocate of fiscal restraint, even among members of his party. The move is seen as a sign that Trump may press to cut federal spending overall, despite other promises he has made to boost military spending, protect expensive entitlement programs and rebuild the nation's infrastructure, at a possible cost of up to $1 trillion.
"Right now we are nearly $20 trillion in debt," Trump said in a statement, "but Mick is a very high-energy leader with deep convictions on how to responsibly manage our nation's finances and save our country from drowning in red ink."
Mulvaney also is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of staunchly conservative Republicans who are considered responsible for the 2015 ouster of then-House Speaker John Boehner.