In his first news conference since voters made Donald Trump the President-Elect, President Obama did not repeat his blistering criticism of the Republican nominee that was featured on the campaign trail, instead expressing hope and optimism that Trump will be able to succeed as President.
“He successfully mobilized a big chunk of the country to vote for him,” Mr. Obama said in the White House Briefing room, telling reporters that he said to Trump that his election performance was “impressive.”
“The people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next President, the 45th President of the United States,” Mr. Obama said.
Asked directly about some of his criticism before the election that Trump was not fit to be in the White House, Mr. Obama sidestepped those queries, and instead stuck to the results of last week’s vote.
“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,” Mr. Obama said.
Just as the President was addressing reporters in the briefing room of the White House, a reminder of his departure arrived from the Kremlin, announcing that Russian leader Vladimir Putin has spoken by telephone with the President-Elect today.
One of the few issues where the President stressed his differences with Trump and other Republicans was on Mr. Obama’s health reform law, which may prove tricky for the GOP to repeal.
“Do I have concerns? Absolutely, of course I’ve got concerns; he and I differ on a whole bunch of issues,” the President said.
The President also weighed in a bit more strongly on immigration policy, saying the President-Elect should “think long and hard” about revoking the legal status of millions of people who were brought here illegally by their parents, known as “Dreamers.”
“It is my strong belief that the majority of the American people would not want to see those kids hiding again,” the President noted, though that has been the plan of his successor.
For the most part, though, Mr. Obama seemed to go out of his way to avoid direct challenges to his successor at this news conference.
“I think he’s going to try – as best he can, to make sure that he delivers – not only for the people who voted for him, but for the people at large,” Mr. Obama added.
“My hope is he makes things better, and if he does we’ll all benefit from it.”