In his first Thanksgiving Message as US President-elect, Donald Trump has called for unity following a “long and bruising political campaign”. He also announced the selection of the first two women in her cabinet, education and UN ambassador.
“It’s my prayer that on this Thanksgiving we begin to heal our divisions and move forward as one country strengthened by shared purpose and very, very common resolve,” he said in the almost two-minute long message.
“In declaring this national holiday, President Lincoln called upon Americans to speak with one voice and one heart. That’s just what we have to do.
“We’ve just finished a long and bruising political campaign. Emotions are raw and tensions just don’t heal overnight. It doesn’t go quickly, unfortunately”
“But we have before us the chance now to make history together to bring real change to Washington, real safety to our cities, and real prosperity to our communities, including our inner-cities, so important to me and so important to our country.”
Earlier in the day Donald Trump announced the nomination of two women for senior Cabinet positions in an attempt to diversify his inner circle.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will serve as US ambassador to the United Nations, while prominent charter school advocate Betsy DeVos will be secretary of education.
They are the first women appointed to top-level posts in Mr Trump’s new administration, pending Senate confirmation. The appointments come as former Republican candidate Ben Carson hinted he has accepted a role as housing chief.
Many outside of the US would not have heard of Ms DeVos. The Michigan-native is a longtime advocate for charter schools and school vouchers. She leads the advocacy group, American Federation for Children. Trump called Ms DeVos “a brilliant and passionate education advocate” in a statement.
“Under her leadership we will reform the US education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families,” the incoming president said.
Ms DeVos’ husband, Dick, is an heir to the Amway fortune and a former president of the company. The couple gave $US22.5 million to the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington in 2010, at the time the largest private donation in the centre’s history.
Hours before the DeVos pick was announced, conservative policy leader Frank Cannon, president of American Principles Project, called her “an establishment, pro-Common Core secretary of education.”
Common Core is an education initiative which requires students K-12 to reach a certain level in English, language, arts and maths at the end of each grade, a policy Trump heavily campaigned against.
“This would not qualify as ‘draining the swamp’,” Mr Cannon said, referencing Mr Trump’s campaign trail slogan. “And it seems to fly in the face of what Trump has stated on education policy up to this point.
Nick Haley, 44, said she accepted the job, partly out of “a sense of duty.” “When the president believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation’s standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed,” she said in a statement.
Trump said in a statement Governor Haley “has a proven track record of bringing people together” and is a “proven deal-maker.”
Governor Haley, an outspoken Trump critic who actively campaigned for Republican nominees Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, was the President-elect’s first female and first minority appointment. She is the daughter of Indian immigrants.
If confirmed, she would be the third consecutive female US ambassador to the UN after Susan Rice and Samantha Power, the current ambassador.