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Donald Trump says he never really meant to promise that Carrier jobs would return

President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday that he never really meant to promise that he would bring jobs back that Carrier, the heating and cooling company, had promised this year to ship to Mexico.

“That was a euphemism," Trump said, meaning he was treating the company as a proxy for U.S. manufacturers that send jobs abroad. "I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in.”

But Trump said he made Carrier a priority after seeing an employee of the company cite the promise on an evening newscast.

On Thursday, Trump toured the Carrier factory in Indianapolis, talking about what a great Christmas its workers would have after the company agreed this week to keep 1,100 jobs from going abroad.

That's most of the 1,400 jobs that Carrier had planned to shed in its move, and 100 more jobs than had been announced in a Wednesday news release.

Trump began calling the chief executive of Carrier's parent company, Gregory Hayes, after seeing the news segment, he said. 

He worked out a deal with Hayes. Carrier said in a statement Thursday that the deal with the state of Indiana gives the firm $7 million in incentives “over multiple years, contingent upon factors including employment, job retention and capital investment." Vice President-elect Mike Pence is the state's outgoing governor and also played a key role in negotiating.

Trump said the goodwill that Carrier built would be worth even more: "So many people are going to be buying Carrier air conditioners.”

Trump, in a speech after his factory tour, beamed with energy, showing the freewheeling style he honed on the campaign trail, with frequent tangents to talk about his primary victory in Indiana, former basketball coach Bob Knight and his "tremendous love affair with the state of Indiana."

Then he singled out a man in the audience who said it was his son who spoke out on the national news segment about Carrier and said he was certain that Trump would keep the jobs from leaving.

“Your son, whoever the hell your son is, these people owe him a lot,” Trump said.

Trump promised other companies would not make the same decision when he becomes president, saying he would shred government regulations and reduce the business tax from 35% to 15%. He said those who were not lured by those enticements would face large tariffs. All of those actions will require congressional approval.

Trump also said that he would not shy from calling other companies.

“They say it's not presidential to call up these massive leaders of business," Trump said. "I think it's very presidential. And if it’s not presidential, that’s OK.”

2:30 p.m.: This story was updated with comment from Carrier.

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