President-elect Donald Trump Saturday praised the Electoral College votes that propelled him to the White House last month, saying that the Founding Fathers were "genius" in creating a system that required candidates to campaign across the country.
"I never appreciated it until now," Trump told supporters at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., on the last stop of his "Thank You" tour of battleground states. "How genius it was, what they had in mind.
"Because at that time, they didn't want everybody going to Boston and New York — and everything else would be forgotten.
"Now, it is the same thing.
"It's genius, I'm telling you," Trump said. "It's genius."
Trump held his first major campaign rally in Mobile in August 2015. His other "Thank You" tour stops included Michigan, North Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
On Nov. 8, Trump won 306 electoral votes — and electors will meet on Monday to officially cast their votes for the president-elect and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Democrat Hillary Clinton won 232 electoral votes. The threshold was 270.
Trump will be sworn into office on Jan. 20.
But Clinton won the popular vote: 65.8 million votes to Trump's 62.9 million.
The president-elect told Cotton State supporters that the Electoral College system required him to canvass the nation to talk directly to voters. He said he visited 17 states in the last month of the campaign.
"That is the beauty of this electoral system," he said. "If you go with the popular vote, I'd go New York State, California, back and forth.
"It would be much easier. The problem is that every other place — you stop in Florida, you stop in Texas — you wouldn't see anyplace else.
"It would be so much easier," Trump said. "I think I'd actually do better, but you never see most of the country.
"I went to 17 states. I went to states that you just wouldn't go to.
"I went to places, frankly, that normally you wouldn't be thinking about too much," he said. Trump pledged to continue holding rallies after moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"This is the last time I'll be speaking at a rally for maybe a while," he said. "They are saying that as president, he shouldn't be doing rallies.
"But I think we should, right?" Trump asked as the crowd cheered.
"We've done everything else the opposite. This is the way you get an honest word out.
"Because you can't give it to them because they are so dishonest," Trump said, referring to the news media, which he has repeatedly slammed since announcing his bid last year.
Overall, the mood at Ladd-Peebles Stadium was celebratory at Trump marked his final "Thank You" stop.
He basked in his election-night victory, called on campaign manager Kellyanne Conway — who rattled off victory statistics — and introduced Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as his choice for attorney general.
Sessions, 69, the first senator to endorse Trump, said that the first rally in Mobile — his hometown — was when "people began to see this was more than a normal campaign, but a movement.
"Mobile played a historic role — and a momentum built," he added. "It is just no doubt about it.
"The American people have spoken in so many ways in this election."
Speaking for slightly under five minutes, Sessions talked longer than the other Cabinet nominees Trump presented at his rallies.
Conway, now a senior adviser to the transition team, said that Trump won more than 2,600 counties — including 200 that flipped from President Barack Obama in 2012 — as well 31 of the nation's 50 states.
After noting his electoral vote tally, Conway said: "And we would have won the popular vote" if that had been the method needed to get to the presidency.
Continuing the rally's upbeat spirit, Trump noted that first lady Michelle Obama told Oprah Winfrey in an interview Friday that "we are feeling what not having hope feels like" as his administration takes power.
"Michelle Obama said yesterday that there is no hope," he said, causing boos from the crowd. "But I assume she was talking about the past, not the future.
"I actually think she made that statement not meaning it the way it came out," he added, reflecting on his meeting with the Obamas days after the election.
"I honestly believe she meant that statement in a different way than it came out," Trump said. "I believe there is tremendous hope."
He closed the event with this admonition: "Never, ever give up.
"I should have given up in this campaign five times. I should have given up, according to [the media], 10 times.
"I could take you over 10 different things that happened where people would have given up. But I never gave up.
"Never stop believing," Trump encouraged. "And never, ever stop dreaming."
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