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Trump keeps politics on his Thanksgiving menu

Published Nov 25, 2016 02:22AM ET
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© Reuters. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence depart the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster
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By Roberta Rampton and Susan Heavey

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump spent the Thanksgiving holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday, dining with his family at the Florida golf club after revisiting a campaign pledge he made about restoring American manufacturing.

Trump, known for his use of Twitter to drive political debate, tweeted about an Indiana air conditioner maker he featured in his election campaign as an emblem of trade deals he said were unfavorable to American workers.

Trump, who has not been seen in public since arriving in Florida on Tuesday, said he was "working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier A.C. Company to stay in the U.S. (Indiana). MAKING PROGRESS - Will know soon!"

Carrier Corp, a division of United Technologies Corp (N:UTX), responded on Twitter that the company has had "discussions with the incoming administration" but had "nothing to announce at this time." A representative for the company had no additional comment.

Earlier this year, the company said it would move 1,400 jobs to Mexico from Indiana, giving a three-year timetable for the shift.

The state's Republican governor, Mike Pence - later picked by Trump as his vice-presidential running mate - decried the decision, and spoke out against it often on the campaign trail.

Trump made Carrier's decision part of his rallying cry against the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. He said he would slap taxes on the company's air conditioners shipped back to the United States.

Asked by Reuters last week whether the company was reconsidering its decision given Trump's victory in the Nov. 8 election over Democrat Hillary Clinton, the company said in a statement it was "making every effort" to help its Indiana employees during the shift.

"By providing three years advance notice of the move and by funding education and retraining programs for up to four years after the move is complete, we are providing employees with both time and opportunity to help them to make a smooth transition," the company said.

Carrier also cited an agreement it had reached with the United Steelworkers union about compensation for affected workers.

Trump's Thanksgiving comments on Carrier were reminiscent of remarks he tweeted last week about Ford Motor Co (N:F), a company he criticized during the campaign for shifting some production lines to Mexico.

When Ford informed Trump it would not shift production of a Lincoln sport utility vehicle to Mexico from Kentucky, he took to Twitter to say he saved the plant, although the company had never considered moving the whole factory south of the border.

"I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky," Trump tweeted, referring to Ford's executive chairman.


Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has been interviewing candidates for his Cabinet and other top White House positions. He and Pence have held more than 60 such meetings since the election.

He did not announce any new decisions on Thursday.

A spokeswoman said he was spending the evening with family members. "They recognize how precious this kind of time is, and look forward to an evening together to celebrate and count their many blessings," the spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said.

They dined in the Mar-a-Lago club, where the menu included a choice of four chilled seafoods, "Mr. Trump’s Wedge Salad," devilled eggs, traditional turkey and stuffing, lamb, beef and sea bass. Among the eight desserts: "Three Layer Trump Chocolate Cake."

Trump announced two picks on Wednesday for his Cabinet - South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and wealthy Republican donor and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos to lead the Education Department. Both are subject to Senate confirmation.

Major choices for the Pentagon, State Department and Treasury are still to come.

Trump's State Department deliberations have spurred debate within his inner circle - particularly his consideration of Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and businessman who ran against Democratic President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

Romney would be a comforting pick for establishment Republicans. But hardline Trump backers believe he should be disqualified because he called Trump a "fraud" during the Republican nominating race and urged Republicans to stop him from becoming their candidate for the 2016 election.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's senior adviser, said on Thursday she was on the receiving end of a "deluge of social media & private comms" about the Romney option, noting being "loyal" was a positive attribute for the job.

Trump and Pence were "spending significant time" on the secretary of state pick, spokesman Jason Miller told reporters before the Thanksgiving break.

"They’ll be looking for things like chemistry, experience, a similar vision into what the president-elect and vice president elect are trying to do with this administration," Miller said.

Trump keeps politics on his Thanksgiving menu

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