OKAY! We can get on board with that pick! Can’t you? Trump made the announcement at an Ohio rally, jokingly saying, ‘We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we’re not announcing it until Monday so don’t tell anybody.’
President-elect Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters that he has selected Marine General James Mattis to be his secretary of defense, hours after the news broke and his transition team tried to tamp down the story.
‘We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we’re not announcing it until Monday so don’t tell anybody,” Trump quipped at a rally in Cincinnati as part of a ‘Thank You Tour’.
Trump gushed about his selection: ‘They say he’s the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have and it’s about time.’
The Washington Post and CNN reported on Thursday afternoon that Trump would choose Mattis, a revered figure in the Marine Corps known for his tough talk, distrust of Iran and battlefield experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The newspaper said the announcement was likely to be made early next week.
But within minutes, Trump spokesman Jason Miller tweeted a denial that the choice had been made saying: ‘No decision has been made yet with regard to Secretary of Defense. #TrumpTransition.’
A cabinet-level appointment was not expected after transition spokesman Sean Spicer said on Wednesday that no more were likely this week.
However the transition has not been entirely predictable.
The choice of a seasoned military strategist would be another indication that Trump, a Republican, intends to steer U.S. foreign policy away from Democratic President Barack Obama’s increased reliance on U.S. allies to fight Islamist militants and to help deter Russian and Chinese aggression in Europe and Asia.
If he were to press ahead with the decision, the nomination of the 66-year-old Mattis will likely be popular among U.S. forces, many of whom know him by his colorful nickname ‘Mad Dog’.