President-elect Donald Trump did something unusual Tuesday night at the second rally of his “Thank You Tour” in Fayetteville, N.C. — he stopped the crowd from booing the press. The moment made a stark contrast from his regular rants against the media, when he often encouraged audiences to join in. A high-level source on Trump’s transition team told Yahoo News that the shift in tone of the speech reflected the president-elect’s desire to focus on the military and veterans.
“The script to what we’re doing is not yet written. Remember, this has been a great, great movement, the likes of which they’ve never seen before,” Trump said, pointing to the reporters who were covering the rally.
Taking what by now has become a familiar cue, the crowd interrupted him to rain boos down on the press pen.
“No, no, no,” Trump said putting a stop to the jeers. “I’ll tell you — and they’re saying it — they’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s one of the great political phenomena of all time, and we’re going to show them. We’re going to do a great job.”
Trump predicted his administration would make the country “safe” and “prosperous.”
“It’s going to be something special. Hopefully, they’re going to write the truth,” Trump said of the media. He added, “We do not know what the page tomorrow will read. But for the first time in a long time, what we do know is that the pages will be authored by each and every one in this room and in our country.”
Attacks on the media were a staple of his rallies throughout the presidential campaign. The first rally of his post-election “Thank You Tour” on Dec. 1 also
“Focus was on military and vets. A singular and solid message that should be and was delivered uninterrupted by other issues,” the source said in a text message.
Earlier in the speech, Trump noted that Wednesday will be the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. He vowed to “defeat” the threats that currently face the country, which he described as the “forces of terrorism.” Trump also pointed out that Fayetteville is near the U.S. Army base of Fort Bragg, and praised “the military families of North Carolina. He vowed that his administration would be focused on “taking care of our veterans” and the “rebuilding of our military.”
That new initiative, Trump explained, would be in the service of seeking “peace through strength” rather than the nation’s current posture, which he criticized as a “destructive cycle of intervention and chaos” abroad.
“We want to be the smart people. We don’t want to be what we’ve been over the last long period of time. We build up our military not as an act of aggression, but as an act of prevention. We pursue and build up arms not in order to seek conflict, but in order to avoid conflict,” Trump said.
Trump also formally introduced his choice for secretary of defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, at the event. He called Mattis “an extraordinary leader for our times” and the general made some brief remarks.
Along with curtailing his criticism of the media, Trump also only briefly diverged into discussing his performance in the election.
“We don’t talk about numbers,” Trump said at one point. “We bring people together. But, boy, were those numbers good.”
Overall, the speech, which clocked in at just over 30 minutes, was about 20 minutes shorter than the one he delivered at his first post-election rally. Trump, who has been criticized for waging a divisive campaign, concluded on an inclusive note.
“We will heal our divisions and unify our country. When Americans are unified there is nothing we cannot do. Nothing. No task is too great, no dream too large, no goal beyond our reach,” Trump said. “My message tonight is for all Americans from all parties, all beliefs, all walks of life. It’s a message for everybody, no matter your age, your income, your background.”
As he often does, Trump finished with his campaign slogan.
“We’re going to make America like it says on all of those caps — those millions and millions of caps that have been sold all over this country and all of those signs — we are going to make America great again, greater than ever before,” he said.