When Trump delivered his speech in Orlando, his latest stop on a national “thank you” tour, his throngs of fans repeated their chants: “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”
If the president-elect loved hearing their plea, he did not say so. Rather, he sought to calm his unruly army of followers.
In the run-up to the election, Trump told them, “you people were vicious, violent, screaming, ‘Where’s the wall?’ ‘We want the wall!’ Screaming, ‘Prison!’ ‘Prison!’ ‘Lock her up!’ I mean, you were going crazy. You were nasty and mean and vicious. And you wanted to win, right?”
But the campaign is over. Victory is in hand. The inauguration is a month away. And Trump, preparing to govern a divided nation, tried to imagine for his fans how they ought to behave. “It’s much different,” he said. “Now you’re laid back, you’re cool, you’re mellow, right? You’re basking in the glory of victory.”
Trump rallied Floridians at an Orlando amphitheater on a crisp evening, flanked by 16 decorated Christmas trees against a giant painted canvas of a winter wonderland. The first words he uttered after a hearty introduction by Vice President-elect Mike Pence: “Merry Christmas, everyone.”
Trump made no reference to Russia’s alleged meddling in the campaign or respond to President Obama’s comments on the matter at a news conference earlier Friday.
Instead, Trump spent much of his 50-minute speech reliving what he called a magical election night in which he defied pundits. He ticked through the battleground states that he turned red — North Carolina (“our firewall”), Pennsylvania (“always the bride that got away”) and Florida (“Did I blow them out of the Panhandle or what?”). And he mocked CNN’s John King and other television anchors for “dishonest” exit polling and for predicting that he did not have a credible path to 270 electoral votes.
Trump also rolled off key promises of his agenda — to end illegal immigration, defeat Islamic State terrorists, repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act, renegotiate trade deals and rejuvenate the domestic economy.
“The script is not yet written,” Trump said of his coming presidency. “We do not know what the page will read tomorrow … but what we do know is that the page will be authored by each and every one of you. You, the incredible American people, will be in charge.”