President-elect Donald Trump is leaving behind the task of assembling his government on Thursday, jetting to the Midwest to celebrate his role in keeping up to 1,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States before mobilizing supporters at one of his signature campaign-style rallies.
Trump left the Manhattan tower that bears his name for Indianapolis, where he is expected to trumpet a deal under which air-conditioning and heating systems manufacturer Carrier will not move those jobs from Indiana to Mexico. The Indiana-based manufacturing company had announced plans to transfer 1,400 positions to Mexico, but partially reversed course after Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence intervened.
In an unusual move for an incoming president, Trump will then rally supporters in Cincinnati at the same sports arena where he drew one of the loudest and most raucous crowds of his insurgent campaign. The rally, which Pence will also attend, is one in a series of similar expected events in battleground states in the coming weeks.
Trump aides on Thursday continued to promote his role in keeping the Carrier jobs in Indiana, calling it a prime example of his campaign pledge to rebuild American manufacturing.
“This is a big win for the incoming administration and an even bigger win for the people of Indiana. Even bigger than that is the message this is sending to American workers around the country,’’ Jason Miller, a senior Trump communications adviser, said on a conference call with reporters.
Here are the people whose names have been floated for Trump’s Cabinet
Some experts, however, have been skeptical of the deal, saying the details are unclear and that it could create a haphazard system in which the government winds up picking corporate winners and losers.
As Trump departed New York’s LaGuardia Airport Wednesday afternoon, the business of transitioning him to power was continuing. The president-elect was meeting with supporters, including some whose backing led to controversy during the campaign.
Trump is scheduled on Friday to sit down with Pam Bondi, the Florida attorney general for whom the Donald J. Trump Foundation violated tax laws by making a $25,000 political contribution to a Bondi-connected campaign group. The Trump Foundation, which as a registered nonprofit group cannot make political donations, paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty.
The donation came as she was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. She decided not to pursue the case. Aides would not discuss the subject of Friday’s meeting back at Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
The president-elect was also reaching out to opponents.
Robert M. Gates, who served as secretary of defense in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, labeled Trump as “unfit to be commander in chief” in a September op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. But Gates was spotted going up the Trump Tower elevator Thursday morning. He was accompanied by retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s nominee for national security adviser.
The transition office has not said if Gates was meeting with Trump or the subject of any possible session.
Trump also prepared to sit down Friday with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), one of the few Democrats he has met with since his surprising election victory. In a statement, Heitkamp said Trump had invited her but declined to provide specifics. “Whatever job I do, I hope to work with the president-elect and all of my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to best support my state,’’ she said.
In Indiana, Trump will tour a Carrier plant with Pence, who is the state’s governor and was also involved in the discussions over the Carrier jobs. The negotiation was an unusual move for a modern president, but Trump aides have suggested such direct intervention would be an important tool under the new administration.
Trump’s efforts to keep the Carrier jobs in Indiana underscore both the potential benefits and pitfalls of his hands-on approach. Under the agreement, the company will receive tax incentives from the state economic development corporation to keep about 1,000 jobs in the state, said John Mutz, a member of the agency’s board and the former lieutenant governor of Indiana.
“The dynamics of the situation changed,” Mutz said.
Trump aides on Thursday declined to discuss details of the deal or the extent of Trump’s personal involvement, which is still unclear. They said Trump and Pence will reveal more during their event at the factory.
Carrier, in a statement Wednesday, said that saving the jobs “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.’’
Ylan Q. Mui and Max Ehrenfreund contributed to this story.