In his final public remarks as the 45th president of the United States, Mr. Trump went off-script and declined to mention Mr. Biden or Harris by name and title, as was in his prepared remarks. Instead, Mr. Trump offered well wishes to the “new administration” while saying he hoped to be back “in some form.”
“I wish the new administration great luck and great success,” Mr. Trump told a crowd of supporters assembled at Joint Base Andrews to see him off. “I think they’ll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular.”
Instead of attending Mr. Biden’s inauguration, Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump are leaving Washington early, marking the first time in more than 150 years the outgoing president has skipped his successor’s swearing-in.
Several hundred people assembled at Joint Base Andrews near Air Force One for the remarks, including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump and Tiffany Trump. As the president delivered his remarks, the crowd chanted, “Thank you, Trump.”
Mr. Trump declared that his was “not a regular administration,” and thanked his family, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence.
In her own brief remarks at Mr. Trump’s urging, Melania Trump said “being your first lady was my greatest honor.”
“Thank you for your love and your support. You will be in my thoughts and prayers,” she said.
“God bless you all, God bless your families and God bless this beautiful nation.”
Mr. Trump highlighted the work of his administration, including the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines through Operation Warp Speed. Mr. Trump spoke of the pandemic as if it was in the past, saying, “as bad as the pandemic was,” as 400,000 Americans and counting have died.
“We have worked hard. We left it all, as the athletes would say, we left it all on the field,” Mr. Trump said. “Goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form.”
The president urged the American people to remember the work of his administration amid future economic gains, saying “remember us.”
“I hope they don’t raise your taxes. But if they do, I told you so,” he said of the incoming Biden administration.
Mr. Trump closed with brief well-wishes to his supporters, saying, “Have a good life. We will see you soon.”
Kathryn Watson and Melissa Quinn