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Trump introduces Mattis as defense secretary nominee at N.C. victory rally

Trump and Mattis said they were confident Congress would grant Mattis the waiver he needs to take the civilian position so soon after retiring from the military.

By Stephen Feller
President-elect Donald Trump, at left, introduced retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, at right, as his nominee to run the Department of Defense at a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday night. Trump and Mattis say they are confident Mattis will receive a waiver from Congress to accept the position, which is meant to be held by a civilian. Pool photo by Aude Guerrucc/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/6ec41c67dd795b3bc992a2fe98bb9708/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
President-elect Donald Trump, at left, introduced retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, at right, as his nominee to run the Department of Defense at a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday night. Trump and Mattis say they are confident Mattis will receive a waiver from Congress to accept the position, which is meant to be held by a civilian. Pool photo by Aude Guerrucc/UPI | License Photo

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- President-elect Donald Trump brought his victory tour to North Carolina Tuesday night, introducing his nominee for Secretary of Defense not far from the country's biggest military base, Fort Bragg.

Trump introduced retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his nominee to run the Department of Defense during a rally to thank supporters in Fayetteville, and broadly covered plans for the military and infrastructure spending in his speech.

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"You went out and pounded the pavement," Trump said while thanking the crowd for their support. "You organized your fellow citizens and propelled to victory a grassroots movement the likes of which nobody, nobody, has ever seen before."

Trump introduced Mattis, as the crowd cheered his nickname, "Mad Dog," promising the retired general would help "rebuild our military and alliances, destroy terrorists, face our enemies abroad and make America safe again.

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If his nomination is approved, Congress will also have to grant a waiver to Mattis because federal law bars members of the military from taking the position less than seven years after they retire from the military. Mattis retired in 2013.

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Mattis expressed hope the Congress would grant the waiver, to which Trump added, "You'll get that waiver. If you didn't get that waiver, there'll be a lot of angry people."

Trump reiterated his "America First" slogan, saying that aside from terrorism, the United States should not be getting too involved in the affairs of most other countries and plans to end many foreign interventions.

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"We will stop racing to topple foreign -- and you understand this -- foreign regimes that we know nothing about that we shouldn't be involved in," Trump said. "Instead, our focus should be on defeating terrorism and destroying ISIS."

Trump also said he plans to end the defense sequester, which is expected to require large cuts to the Pentagon's budget next year, as well as fix problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs and build up the U.S. military.

The president-elect said a $1 trillion plan for infrastructure plan is in the cards, with attention specifically expected to be paid to "inner cities," and repeated his plans to repeal Obamacare, to "end illegal immigration" and to built a wall along the country's southern border.

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