President Barack Obama today called for unity as President-elect Donald Trump takes over in the coming weeks, despite the president’s own reservations about Trump’s ability to lead the U.S.
Obama said that the outcome of the U.S. election leaves him with “concerns” and that many missed Trump’s unforeseen victory.
”There was a lot of folks who missed the Trump phenomenon … that connection that he was able to make … that was impervious to events that might have sunk another candidate, that’s powerful stuff,“What’s clear was that he is able to tap into, yes, the anxieties, but also the enthusiasm of his voters in a way that was impressive.”
While he promised his administration is working with the president-elect’s transition team, Obama did say he had reservations about Trump’s temperament, adding that the presidency often magnifies any personal weaknesses.
“There are going to be certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well unless he recognizes them and corrects them,” Obama said.
He talked about his own inability to keep track of “stacks of briefing books” and said thus he has surrounded himself with “people who can help,” and he hopes Trump does the same.
“The people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next president,” Obama said. “It will be up to him to set up a team that will serve his policies.”
Obama added, “My hope is he makes things better. And if he does, we’ll all benefit from it.”
Obama also noted that Trump is going to have to reach out to those who disagree with him. “Because of the nature of the campaigns, and the bitterness and the ferocity of the campaigns … it’s really important to try to send some signals of unity, and to try to reach out to minority groups and women and others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign,” he said.
Obama added, “It is important for us to let him make his decisions.” And in the end, the American people will judge “if they like what they see,” he said.
Obama said that he felt Trump is “sincere” in wanting to move the country forward. “[Trump] is going to try and make sure he delivers” to both his supporters and to those who voted for his opponent Hillary Clinton, Obama said.
“People will still be looking to the United States. Our example will still carry great weight,” he added.
Asked what he thought about Breitbart News Chairman Stephen Bannon’s appointment as chief strategist, Obama declined to comment, citing his desire for a smooth transition of power. “I think it’s fair to say that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president-elect starts making if I want to be consistent with the notion that we’re going to try to facilitate a smooth transition.”
In talking with Trump last week, Obama said he learned the incoming administration is committed to maintaining the role the U.S. plays with NATO and its allies.
“In my conversation with the president-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships and so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance,” Obama said.
Obama also offered his advice to the Democratic Party for the future. “We have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere,” he said.
Later today, Obama will depart on his final foreign trip as commander-in-chief and will make stops in Europe and Peru.
Obama added that his administration has “stabilized the American economy” and will continue to do so as the hand-off to President-elect Trump and his team occurs.
Trump has previously stated he would dismantle some of the president’s top initiatives once elected.
“This office is bigger than any one person, and that’s why ensuring a smooth transition is so important,” Obama said at the start of the press conference.
“The learning curve always continues,” he added of the presidency. “This is a remarkable job; it is like no other job on Earth and it is a constant flow of information, challenges, and issues. That is true now more than it ever has been.”