Trump heads for North Carolina on 'thank you' tour

Trump heads for North Carolina on 'thank you' tour

US President-elect Donald Trump is taking his show back on the road.

He is scheduled to make the second stop of this "thank you" tour in North Carolina today, less than a week after his return to rallies at an Ohio appearance which felt more like a raucous campaign stop than a traditional speech by a president-to-be.

During that visit to Cincinnati, Mr Trump disparaged the media as "dishonest", inspired loud "Build the wall" chants, took swipes at fellow Republicans and stunned his own aides with his surprise announcement from the stage that that he was appointing retired General James Mattis as his defence secretary.

Tuesday's appearance in Fayetteville will be followed by rallies in Iowa and Michigan later this week as Mr Trump barnstorms the country to salute his supporters who delivered the victories in the battleground states he needed to capture the White House.

The North Carolina rally will come a day after the president-elect chose retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, raising fresh concerns about the lack of experience some of Mr Trump's Cabinet appointments have with agencies they are now being chosen to lead.

Dr Carson, who opposed Mr Trump in the Republican primaries, has no background in government or running a large bureaucracy.

In addition, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Mr Trump's choice to be ambassador to the United Nations, has no foreign policy experience. Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner and Hollywood executive, is Mr Trump's man to lead the Treasury Department but has never worked in government.

And Gen Mattis, a widely praised battlefield commander, spent decades in the Marines but now is tapped to run the nation's largest government agency, the Defence Department, with 740,000 civilian employees in addition to 1.3 million service personnel.

Democrats swiftly criticised Dr Carson's qualifications for his job. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called him a "disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice".

And New York Senator Charles Schumer said he had "serious concerns about Dr Carson's lack of expertise and experience in dealing with housing issues. Someone who is as anti-government as him is a strange fit for housing secretary, to say the least."

Dr Carson would oversee a budget of nearly €50bn which provides rental assistance for more than five million households. Demand for that assistance is high in part because housing costs are rising faster than incomes. HUD also promotes home ownership with the Federal Housing Administration underwriting about one in six mortgages issued in the US. The agency is charged with enforcing federal fair housing laws, too.

In a statement, Mr Trump said he was "thrilled to nominate" Dr Carson, citing his "brilliant mind" and his passion "about strengthening communities and families within those communities".

Dr Carson, who grew up poor, quickly endorsed Mr Trump after ending his own presidential bid despite the business tycoon noting what he called Dr Carson's "pathological temper". Dr Carson has been coy about joining the new administration, saying shortly after Mr Trump's election victory that he was not certain he would fit into a Cabinet-style role in a job like health and human services secretary.

Mr Trump's selections also highlight a frequent divide between the two major political parties in their strategies in appointing a Cabinet: In early 2009, Republicans criticised incoming President Barack Obama for not making enough selections with private-sector experience.

On Monday, Mr Trump received a fresh stream of visitors to the New York skyscraper that bears his name. His most surprising guest was Democratic former vice president Al Gore. Officials said early on Monday that Mr Gore would have talks with Mr Trump's daughter, Ivanka, about climate change, which is Mr Gore's signature issue.

But Mr Gore said he also met Mr Trump and the pair had a "very productive conversation".

"It was a sincere search for areas of common ground," said Mr Gore, who did not give details about the men's discussions. The president-elect has called man-made climate change a hoax and has pledged to undo a number of regulations designed to protect the environment.

Mr Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, told reporters that staffing decisions were made on Monday which would be announced in the coming days.

- AP

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