GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — President-elect Donald Trump is thanking supporters in Grand Rapids, noting that the state of Michigan helped power him to the White House.
Speaking at the DeltaPlex nearly one year after first bringing his campaign to West Michigan, Trump said his opponents "forgot about you people" and is pledging to work hard to justify the support.
"I wanted to be a part of history," said Vicki Hovey, who drove from Boyne City to see Trump for the very first time. "I don’t know how many times I’ll have the opportunity to be a part of this movement.”
Edward Lenoir of Hudsonville said he'd been drawn to Trump's populist messaging since the beginning.
"It just shows here with his thank you tour that he remembers who is working for and who he’s going to Washington for to work for," he said. "It’s the people.”
Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to win Michigan since 1988.
"I am here tonight for one main reason, to say thank you to the incredible people of Michigan," Trump told the roaring crowd of roughly 8,500 packed inside the arena.
Trump also introduced Dow Chemical Co. CEO Andrew Liveris, who he says will head up an "American manufacturing council" that will be tasked with bringing industry back to the U.S. Liveris says Dow plans to put a new research-and-development center in Michigan.
“Buy American and hire American,” Trump said will be the two main rules under which his administration will operate.
The American Manufacturing Council is the principal private sector advisory committee to the Secretary of Commerce on the manufacturing in the United States.
Trump described Liveris as “one of the most respected businessmen in the world,” who will be tasked with finding ways to bring industry back to America.
“Nobody can do it like Andrew,” Trump said.
Trump also introduced his choice for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who lives in West Michigan, calling her "one of the top education reformers in the country."
DeVos' vocal support of charter schools and school of choice has also made her a prime target of critics in public education.
“It’s time to make education great again in this country,” DeVos said before briefly being interrupted by hecklers. "There is a lot of false news out there, all I ask for is an open mind an opportunity to share my heart."
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, and Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel also spoke at the campaign-style event. It was anticipated Trump would officially announce Romney McDaniel as the new chair of the Republican National Committee but it never came.
While she has publicly remained coy about the possibility when asked, sources at the event who said they spoke directly with Romney McDaniel backstage said she acknowledged the announcement was imminent.
Recounting his last-minute rally at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids on the eve of the election, Trump praised the state GOP chairwoman for her efforts in Michigan, referring to her only as McDaniel.
“You spoke very well, I was very impressed with you,” he said. “She didn't sleep for about six months."
The Associated Press, CNN and FOX 17s Josh Sidorowicz contributed to this report