President Obama addressed concerned about President-elect Donald Trump in his first press conference since Election Day, saying that the massive responsibilities of the presidency would change the businessman’s tenor.
In a subtle effort to assuage fears, President Obama suggested Monday that the office of the president has a way of opening one’s eyes to the realities of governing and decision making. “Regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office has a way of waking you up,” Obama said.
Obama maintained his commitment to ensuring a smooth, peaceful transition of power during his first press conference since Election Day, refusing to weigh in on president-elect Donald Trump’s staffing picks and comments the president made about his successor’s qualifications on the campaign trail.
Speaking to the press ahead of his final international trip as president, Obama said it was important for the American people to allow Trump to make decisions and settle into the office before judging his presidency. “The people have spoken, Donald Trump will be the next president, the 45th president of the United States,” Obama said. “It will be up to him to set up a team that he thinks will serve him well and reflect his policies.”
Those who didn’t vote for Trump, Obama said, have to recognize that “that’s how the system operates.”
President Obama said again that he was encouraged by Trump’s sober response to his Election Night win and hopes that he’ll commit to unifying the country going forward. The two met in the Oval Office the Thursday after the surprising election and during that meeting, Obama said Monday, he advised the President-elect to reach out to communities that may feel disaffected as a result of his win. In the days since the election, protestors have taken to the streets across the country chanting things like “not my president” and “dump Trump.” There has also been an increase in racially charged incidents across the U.S. in the wake of the election.
“My advice, as I said to the President-elect, was that campaigning is different from governing,” Obama said Monday. I think he recognizes that I think he’s sincere in wanting to be a successful president. I think he’s going to try as best he can to make sure that he delivers not only for people who voted for him but the people at large.”
Obama also said he’d advised Trump to reach out to women, communities of color, and others who expressed concern about the “tenor of his campaign” and the nastiness of the 2016 election. As noted, the president did not weigh in on the announcement that controversial Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon will have a senior role in the Trump administration.
Reports and comments from advocates, Democrats, and civil rights groups signals that some are angered by the President-elect’s staffing choices. President Obama said he thinks of Trump as less of an ideologue and more of a pragmatist, something he hopes will benefit him when he’s in the thick of it.
The president also said he hopes the president will consider the impact of decisions like completely gutting the Affordable Care Act and reversing deportation deferrals of children who immigrated to the U.S.