President-Elect Donald Trump appeared with James Mattis, his nominee for defense secretary, at a rally in North Carolina this evening.
During the event, Trump officially announced that Mattis is his nominee for defense secretary, something that the transition team never technically made official until today. Trump introduced Mattis by invoking his nickname, “Mad Dog,” and saying that he would be instrumental in making America great again.
When Mattis took the stage, he received a significant amount of applause from the audience, and he said that he is grateful for the opportunity to serve the country while acknowledging the possibility that he may not be approved by the Senate.
“With our allies strengthened, and our country strengthened, I look forward to being the civilian leader so long as the Congress gives me the waiver and the Senate votes to consent,” he said.
Mattis needs a waiver from congress because the secretary of defense must be someone who has not served in the military during the past seven years; Mattis retired only three years ago, and so Congress needs to pass legislation that exempts him. Some Democrats have already said that they will not support this waiver.
When he resumed the stage, Donald Trump said, “If he didn’t get that waiver, there’ll be a lot of angry people.”
Trump has nominated nine people to his cabinet thus far, but this is the first time he has appeared with one of them on such a public forum. Of the nominees Trump has announced, Mattis has been one of the most universally praised, with the majority of Democrats and Republicans believing him to be a fine choice, although some Democrats take issue with the fact that he has not been out of the military for long enough to serve in the role.
This stop in Fayetteville was a part of what the Trump transition team is calling the Thank You USA Tour 2016. Throughout the month of December, Trump will be visiting swing states that helped him win the election on November 8th, with North Carolina being a key one. Later this week, Trump will be visiting Des Moines, Iowa and then Grand Rapids, Michigan.