Trump returns to Indiana for victory lap on Carrier deal

Donald Trump traveled to Indiana on Thursday to celebrate the fact that the air-conditioning and furnace manufacturer Carrier Corp. will be keeping some of its jobs in Indianapolis, instead of moving more than 2,000 to Mexico.

His remarks were trademark campaign-trail Trump, despite the end of the presidential contest. There were freewheeling tangents, and attacks on the media, and boasts of his electoral victories — even repeated mentions of the political support he received from local college basketball legend Bobby Knight.

Trump, who was introduced to the crowd by his running mate, outgoing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, praised his V.P. pick as “such a wise decision for me.” Pence played a key role in crafting the deal with Carrier.

The president-elect then recalled his primary and general-election wins in the state. He said his campaign had a “tremendous love affair with the state of Indiana” and noted that the so-called “NeverTrump” movement had pinned its hopes on the fact that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would beat him in the Hoosier State.

“During the primaries, this was going to be the ‘firewall,’” he said. “This was where they were going to ‘Stop Trump,’ right? And that didn’t work out too well. And it was a firewall for me.”

Trump quickly pivoted to his win last month over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“That was some victory,” he said. “That’s pretty great.”

Donald Trump speaks at Carrier HVAC plant in Indianapolis. (Photo: Chris Bergin/Reuters)

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Donald Trump speaks at Carrier HVAC plant in Indianapolis. (Photo: Chris Bergin/Reuters)

Carrier caught Trump’s attention after a video went viral in February showing the company informing its distraught workers that their jobs would be cut so that production could move to Mexico. For many people, Carrier came to symbolize the plight of U.S. manufacturing.

After his win, Trump and Pence cut a deal with Carrier to keep some of the 2,000 jobs it had planned to relocate to Mexico. But the agreement, which will keep roughly half of those jobs in the United States, came at a cost: The New York Times reported that Carrier will “receive multiyear state economic incentives worth a total of $7 million.”

Related: Trump’s tactics for saving jobs could kill them instead

According to Trump, the Carrier deal happened mostly by chance. He said he decided to push for the agreement about a week ago, while watching a news segment.

“About a week ago, I was watching the nightly news — I won’t say which one, because I don’t want to give them credit, I don’t like them much, I’ll be honest, I don’t like them, not even a little bit — but they were doing a story on Carrier,” Trump recalled. “And I said, ‘Wow, that’s something. I want to see that.’”

The news segment featured a man whom Trump described as “such a believer,” saying the president-elect would honor his vow to bring the Carrier jobs back. Trump said the man had actually misinterpreted his words.

“He said, ‘We’re not leaving because Donald Trump promised us that we’re not leaving.’ I never thought I made that promise,” he said. “Then they played my statement. And I said, ‘Carrier will never leave!’ But that was a euphemism; I was talking about Carrier like all other companies.”

Trump made the Indianapolis stop ahead of a Thursday night event in the Cincinnati Arena, where his post-campaign campaign will continue with a “USA Thank You Tour 2016” rally.

Related: 16 places that shaped the 2016 election: Indianapolis, Ind.

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