GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Donald Trump at a rally on Friday said African-American voters who didn't show up to the polls were "almost as good" for him as those who went out and voted for him.
"The African-American community was great to us," Trump said. "They came through big league."
"If they had any doubt, they didn't vote," Trump added. "And that was almost as good. Because a lot of people didn't show up, because they felt good about me."
National exit polls showed Democrat Hillary Clinton winning African-Americans of Trump 89 to 8 percent - but that marked a slight drop from 2012, when President Barack Obama led Mitt Romney among African-Americans 93 to 6 percent.
Trump drew fire during the campaign for his outreach to African-American voters, which centered around the assertion that conditions were so poor in their communities that they should try something new in Trump. "What do you have to lose?" Trump would ask.
The result Trump's outperforming Romney among black voters, even slightly, came as a surprise to many.
Trump made the comments at the fourth stop on his "Thank You" tour, meant ostensibly to thank the millions of voters that delivered him a resounding White House win last month. Trump spent a significant chunk of the rally recounting his unexpected election-night success.
Trump did also use the event, however, to make a surprise announcement about plans to bring new jobs to Michigan, and to pick Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris to lead an "American manufacturing council — apparently referring to the Manufacturing Council, a private sector advisory council to the Secretary of Commerce.
Liveris told the crowd he will invest in a new research and development facility because of Trump.
"We've got ideas and we've got plans and tonight, in honor of the president-elect and his being here to thank you all, we've made a decision: we're gonna invest a new state-of-the-art innovation center in Michigan. This decision is because of this man and these policies," he said.
Liveris told Trump that he’s "paving your way with your administration, with your policies, to make it easier to do business in this country," and that America would become "not a red tape country, but a red carpet country for American businesses."
The crowd cheered the Australian for promising "to use American hard work and American brains and we're gonna fight for the Dow company out of the USA."
It marked the latest development in Trump’s efforts to make good on his campaign-trail promise to bring jobs and industry back to the U.S., following his announcement of a deal with Carrier executives to keep around 800 that were due to be moved to Mexico in Indianapolis.
Liveris’ company is currently hammering out a merger with DuPont that’s run into many regulatory hurdles, and it’s one that Trump could have an impact on as president.
On the campaign trail, Trump slammed a similar merger — between AT&T and Time Warner — as "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few."
DuPont's CEO has said he doesn’t expect Trump will have any impact on the merger, and there’s no indication the merger was discussed by Trump or Liveris.
But the CEO of Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, acknowledged that there was a cost to keeping the Indianapolis plant open, but the a Trump administration could bring a "better" regulatory environment and lower taxes that could help UTC in the long run.
The Michigan crowd cheered Liveris' R&D announcement, and overall was one of Trump’s most enthusiastic yet, launching hearty chants of "USA!" throughout Trump’s rally and turning vigorous boos on the media at his command.
Three small groups of protesters erupted — one while Trump’s pick for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, was speaking to the crowd about her credentials — and the crowd drowned them out.
Trump basked in the attention and the energy, but did notably break with the crowd on one chant: “Lock her up!" the infamous attack on Hillary Clinton that roared through the crowd at nearly all of his rallies during the campaign and became a favorite catchphrase of both the candidate and his supporters.
Many of his supporters have cited prosecuting Clinton as a top priority for them in a Trump Administration. But Trump himself had other ideas. On Friday night, he responded to their chants by bluntly admitting his campaign-trail pledge to “lock her up” was hollow.
"That plays great before the election — now we don’t care," Trump said.