So far 'presidential' Trump no more a uniter than candidate Trump

Trump sends clear message on post-election tour
Trump sends clear message on post-election tour

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    Trump sends clear message on post-election tour

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Trump sends clear message on post-election tour 02:45

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump vowed on election night to "bind the wounds of division" but so far he's not doing much to become a president for all Americans.

But from his point of view, why should he?
Trump and his transition team are basking in vindication after winning a famous election victory that the pundits and the political establishment told him for months would be impossible. His Cabinet nominees and senior advisers have skewed to the right, some causing controversy of their own. His "thank you" tour which began in Ohio this week and will make more stops in Iowa and North Carolina in the coming days, focuses in states he won. And with a Republican Congress, Trump doesn't necessarily need a lot of Democrats and other opponents to govern.
Yet while Trump has reached out to previous critics like Mitt Romney as part of meetings with a parade of cabinet hopefuls and other would-be influencers -- and found time to launch a Twitter war with China -- his outreach hasn't extended to the 65 million Americans who voted for someone else.
But Trump never makes the conventional political move, and is hardly known for magnanimity in victory. For now, he seems more concerned with pointing out the size of his victory than reaching out to those who have expressed deep anxiety about it. His 306 electoral votes smashed the Democratic belief that the demographics of the political map meant the GOP would struggle to win presidential elections.
"Folks, how many times did we hear this? There is no path to 270" Trump asked on the first stop of his victory tour, a raucous rally in Cincinnati on Thursday. His speech was also packed with swipes at the "dishonest" media, his Republican rivals and boasts about the size of his win over Clinton.
Trump's lieutenants are in no mood for olive branches either.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Trump won a "historic mandate election." And Trump aide Kellyanne Conway couldn't resist pointing out to angry Clinton campaign aides at a forum at Harvard University last week that it was too late to complain about the manner and tone of Trump's campaign.
"Hashtag, he's your President," Conway said at an event that proved that no one involved in the election is ready to bind the wounds of division just yet.
His strategy of gloating and triumphalism, however it might delight his supporters, does raise the question of whether his approach is storing up future political problems.
Only when he is president and faces a national crisis, or an economic slowdown or some other unexpected political reverse will it become clear whether relying on a comparatively narrow base of support is a liability for Trump.
Protests erupted in some cities with demonstrators holding signs stating that Trump would never be their president. At the Harvard event last week, former Clinton aide Jennifer Palmieri told Conway she had presided over a campaign that gave a platform to white nationalists, a notion Conway rejected.
The idea that Trump has a responsibility to ease such divides was laid out by Khizr Khan, a Hillary Clinton supporter and father of a US Muslim soldier killed in Iraq, who slammed Trump in a speech at the Democratic National Convention.
"He has been elected president but he has to earn our respect," Khan told CNN's Anderson Cooper last month. "He has to earn the position of the presidency. We appeal to the surrogates of Donald Trump and to him himself that he needs to take the first step."
For now, the priority is renewing the President-elect's bond with the fiercely loyal band of heartland supporters to whom he spoke like no other recent presidential candidate in the campaign.
That's why the deal he clinched to keep 1,000 jobs at the Carrier air conditioner plant in Indiana announced last week was such a political win for Trump.
It might have triggered cries of government meddling to save an uncompetitive plant from the likes of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page and complaints that it was a drop in the bucket and was impractical on a national scale from Democrats.
But the gesture cemented Trump in the eyes of his supporters as someone who would live up to his promise to get his hands dirty to fight for the American worker -- even if it meant breaking the rules of how things work in Washington.
Trump's willingness to risk a rebuke from China by taking a call from the leader of nationalist Taiwan on Friday horrified the Washington foreign policy establishment because it threw 40 years of diplomatic precedent out of the window.
But again, it was a case of Trump doing what he pledged his supporters he would do -- shake up conventions and business as usual.
Another controversy during Trump's transition centered on his tweet calling for people who burn the American flag to be put in jail or stripped of their citizenship. The media and Trump's political foes reacted by pointing out that such a move would infringe constitutional rights to free speech.
"The President-elect is someone who has pushed the envelope and caused people to think in this country, has not taken conventional thought on every single issue," Trump's incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on CBS "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
Trump's twitter tirades to his nearly 17 million followers are a direct line to his supporters. On Sunday, he went on a tweet storm about his plans to stop US firms from taking jobs and factories abroad, threatening them with a 35% tariff on goods they want to sell back across the border.
Trump's most loyal supporters stand as a warning to more conventional Republican conservatives and lawmakers that he has his own passionate power base, ahead of likely policy clashes over issues like Medicare or taxes in years to come.
As he moves towards the White House, Trump may begin paying more lip service to unity. He is apparently considering some Democrats from conservative states for a cabinet post and met North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp last week. There's also speculation about West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. For his part, Pence has met Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
And even Trump, the most unconventional President-elect ever, is unlikely to turn the inaugural address into a raging, grievance-fueled campaign rally.
In Ohio at times he appeared to be trying out soaring lines that might be appropriate for such a national moment -- albeit after the crowd shouted "Lock her up" when Trump mentioned Hillary Clinton.
"We're going to seek a truly inclusive society where we support each other, love each other and look out for each other," Trump said.
"We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms. We denounce all of the hatred and we forcefully reject the language of exclusion and separation," he said.
"We're going to come together," he added. "We have no choice."