Donald Trump will once more feel the love that unexpectedly propelled him to victory over Hillary Clinton three weeks ago with a so-called ‘Thank You Tour’ of public appearances starting with a giant rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday night.
While there is so far no published tour schedule, the director of Mr Trump’s advance planning team, George Gigicos, has said that that the president-elect will be traveling “obviously to the states that we won and the swing states we flipped over”.
While some will see it as Mr Trump looking to indulge in a victory lap around the country, Mr Gigicos insisted that it was about giving thanks to those voters who helped him on his way to his Electoral College victory on 8 November, against the expectations of nearly all the main polling organisations and of the Clinton campaign as well.
However you choose to characterise it, the tour will only compound the feeling among some that the election campaign isn’t really over, at least in the mind of Mr Trump who still hasn’t foregone his habit of airing his every passing thought - and grievance - via the medium of Twitter.
That sense has also been kept alive by the lingering squabble over recounts petitioned for by Green Party leader Jill Stein in three states where his margin of victory was tiny - Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan - and Mr Trump’s subsequently claim that he would have won the popular but for alleged fraud in three other states, California, Virginia and New Hampshire.
Thursday night’s event is planned for the gaping US Bank arena in downtown Cincinnati in western Ohio, another midwestern state that helped put Mr Trump over the top.
The decision to launch the tour is also an expression of Mr Trump’s belief it was his succession of boisterous rallies that first won him the Republican nomination last summer and then took him all the way to victory on election day. He was often faulted by political hands who argued he was putting all his energy into the rallies at the expense of paying attention to more nuts-and-bolts requirements of a campaign, like the get-out-the-vote effort at the grassroots level.
How he pitches his message to his supporters will be closely watched. Any return to his familiar campaigning form, when he mixed a nationalist populist message with grievances about the ‘rigged’ establishment ranged against him, will dismay those in the Republican Party who have been grasping at any signs of a moderation of tone since he has become president-elect.
Any suggestion that the tour is meant to rub salt into the wounds sustained by Democrats and those who had hoped for a Clinton victory will also deepen anxiety that Mr Trump’s words about unifying the country after one of those bilious campaigns in modern history will prove empty.
Certainly it is an unusual project. Mr Trump already has a full plate completing his choices for his cabinet and other top positions in Washington and keeping his transition from descending into chaos, as it has already threatened to in recent days, not least the tug of war that has erupted over his courtship of Mitt Romney as a possible Secretary of State.
And even if Mr Trump believes he can spare the time to return to the hustings even though the election is over, it is unclear who would be paying the costs of renting spaces as large as the US Bank Arena and covering all the other associated costs of major rallies.
Clearly, the tour will not be paying visits to those states that remained unflinchingly blue, like New York or California. But other states in the heartland that could be identified for future stops are likely to include Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, notwithstanding any recounts that could conceivably challenge his narrow victories in each of them.
He is expected also to bring Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is currently running the transition effort, along to the Cincinnati event.Reuse content