Watch Obama’s speech: ‘We are now all rooting for Donald Trump’s success’

Obama makes an appeal for unity, pledging a smooth handover of power to President-elect Trump

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 2:24am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 10:13am

US President Barack Obama pledged on Wednesday to work for a smooth transition of power with president-elect Donald Trump, the Republican winner of Tuesday’s election, who has promised to undo Obama’s top domestic and foreign policy initiatives.

In remarks to reporters in the White House Rose Garden, Obama urged fellow Democrats to put aside their disappointment and tried to strike a positive tone after a devastating electoral defeat.

“It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences,” Obama said with a smile about Trump, who had long questioned whether Obama had been born in the United States and his eligibility for office.

“We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” Obama said.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, campaigned hard for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to defeat Trump, acknowledging that the president’s legacy on healthcare, climate change and financial reforms were on the line.

Trump reaches out for unity after stunning upset US presidential win

But Obama kept his remarks on Wednesday focused on ensuring a successful transition for Trump, noting that his Republican predecessor, former President George W. Bush, had done the same for him eight years ago.

“Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team,” Obama said.

“I want to make sure that handoff is well executed because ultimately we’re all on the same team,” Obama said.

Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team
Barack Obama

Trump’s gracious victory speech, Obama said, heartened him.

“That’s what the country needs,” he said. “A sense of unity. A respect for our institutions, our way of life, the rule of law. A respect for each other. I hope he maintains that spirit throughout this transition and I certainly hope that’s how his presidency has a chance to begin.”

He spoke just moments after Clinton formally conceded to Trump with a similar, though more emotional, appeal to give Trump a chance to succeed as president. The remarks were striking after a campaign in which the Democrats declared Trump was unfit to serve and told voters the future of democracy was riding on their choice.

An extraordinarily large number of Obama aides and advisers — more than a hundred in all — gathered to hear his statement, including stenographers, low-level aides and White House Counsel Neil Eggleston.

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The White House said Obama and Trump are due to meet Thursday to discuss the handover of power and ongoing planning for the transition. Obama called the Republican in the early hours of the morning Wednesday to congratulate him on his stunning victory, which marked a forceful rebuke by voters to Obama’s eight years in office.

For Obama, handing over the White House to Trump is a devastating blow to his legacy and to his hopes for leaving a lasting imprint on the nation’s policies. Trump has vowed to rip up much of what Obama accomplished, including his signature health care law, the Iran nuclear deal and a painstakingly negotiated trade deal with Asia.

With Republican control of both chambers of Congress, he will be well positioned to make good on that promises.

Obama also called Clinton after it became clear she’d lost the race. The White House said Obama had “expressed admiration for the strong campaign she waged throughout the country.”

It was unclear how substantive Obama’s call was with Trump, or how long it lasted, although the White House noted that Obama placed the call from his residence in the White House, rather than from the West Wing.

Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, described it as a “warm conversation” and a “gracious exchange.” She said Trump had missed the president’s original call as Trump was speaking to supporters in New York, then called him back after leaving the stage.

Like Clinton and other Democrats, Obama didn’t appear to see Trump’s victory coming. As he campaigned vigorously for Clinton in the race’s final days, Obama said he was confident that if Americans showed up to vote, they’d choose against electing the billionaire former reality TV star with no formal government experience.

He had also warned supporters in apocalyptic terms that “the fate of the republic” rested on Clinton defeating Trump on Election Day.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

For Obama, handing over the White House to Trump is a devastating blow to his legacy and to his hopes for leaving a lasting imprint on the nation’s policies. Trump has vowed to rip up much of what Obama accomplished, including his signature health care law, the Iran nuclear deal and a painstakingly negotiated trade deal with Asia.

With Republican control of both chambers of Congress, he will be well positioned to make good on those promises.

Obama also called Clinton after it became clear she’d lost the race. The White House said Obama had “expressed admiration for the strong campaign she waged throughout the country.”

It was unclear how substantive Obama’s call was with Trump, or how long it lasted, although the White House noted that Obama placed the call from his residence in the White House, rather than from the West Wing.