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Trump Returns To Campaign Tone In First Postelection Rallies

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

It's often said that there's a big difference between campaigning for president and actually being president. Donald Trump may be learning that now. The president-elect has spent the last few weeks assembling the team he wants to run the country, but he's not ready to give up campaigning just yet. Trump kicked off a series of thank you rallies in Cincinnati last night. NPR's Scott Horsley has more on Trump's message to supporters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Wow, thank you.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Donald Trump says his mission in these rallies is to thank the voters who elected him and invite their participation in what he calls the next chapter.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Now the real work begins.

HORSLEY: First though, Trump seemed perfectly happy to spend a little time reliving the campaign, basking in the adoration of his most fervent supporters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: You are the movement. I'm the messenger. I'm just really the messenger. Although I've been a very good messenger, let's face it, right? I've been a pretty good messenger.

HORSLEY: And even as he appealed for Americans to come together now that the election's over, Trump couldn't resist settling some old scores with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Republican opponents like Ohio Governor John Kasich and most of all, the news media.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: They kept saying there's no path and all this nonsense. So - and I go out and I see the people like this and I'd say, how are we going to lose?

HORSLEY: Trump and his team celebrated a good news story this week when the Carrier air conditioning company announced that hundreds of jobs it was planning to move to Mexico would instead stay in Indiana. Trump had pressed the company not to move the jobs over the border. Indiana Governor and Vice President-elect Mike Pence says it paid off.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE PENCE: Make no mistake about it, Carrier chose to stay in Indiana because America chose to make Donald Trump the next president of the United States.

HORSLEY: Trump told supporters that's just the beginning of his efforts to rebuild the Rust Belt. But each time he started to discuss plans to cut corporate taxes or roll back regulation, he seemed to get distracted, then started ad libbing about the election.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: If a company wants to still leave the state of Ohio or Pennsylvania - or how about North Carolina? How well did we do in North Carolina, right?

HORSLEY: Trump insists the U.S. economy is a mess, but he'll actually take over an economy that's seen considerable improvement in the last eight years. White House economist Jason Furman notes as of this morning, unemployment has fallen to just 4.6 percent. And wages have finally begun climbing after a long period of stagnation.

JASON FURMAN: I think the economy's in very good shape. You know, I just wish we were able to inherit an economic situation like this, you know, eight years ago when we were sitting in the transition offices, you know, worried about what was coming next.

HORSLEY: In rally settings like this, Trump has often been shown to stretch the truth, and last night was no exception. He exaggerated Midwestern manufacturing woes, the threat posed by Middle East refugees, even the scale of his election victory. But as former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told an audience at Harvard this week, Trump supporters are not bothered by that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COREY LEWANDOWSKI: They understood that sometimes when you have a conversation with people, whether it's around the dinner table or it's at the bar or it's wherever it is, you're going to say something. And maybe you don't have all the facts to back that up, but that's how the American people live.

HORSLEY: And one major fact Trump harped on last night is not in dispute. The bottom line, he says, is we won. Scott Horsley, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.