President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama sat down face to face for about an hour in the Oval Office today, their first meeting on the transfer of power.
Not even top aides were allowed into the meeting, in which the two men discussed national security, the economy, the auto industry, and the $700 billion bailout to help stabilize the economy, most which has not yet been allocated.
According to a statement from Obama-Biden Transition Spokesperson Stephanie Cutter: "President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama were very warmly welcomed today at the White House by president George Bush and first lady Laura Bush. Upon arriving, President-elect Obama and President Bush proceeded to the Oval Office, where they had a productive and friendly meeting that lasted for over an hour. They had a broad discussion about the importance of working together throughout the transition of government in light of the nation's many critical economic and security challenges."
The president and first lady Laura Bush greeted Obama and first lady-in-waiting Michelle Obama at the South Portico shortly before 2 p.m. The Bushes were waiting outside in the sunny autumn weather when Obama's motorcade drew up.
Obama helped his wife out of the limo, and then strode over to Bush to shake his hand and rest his left hand familiarly on Bush's shoulder. The women exchanged pecks on the cheek. Obama and Laura Bush greeted each other formally, simply shaking hands.
The four of them turned for a quick photo before heading inside with Obama again putting his hand on the president's shoulder as they filed indoors.
Within moments, the two men had left their spouses, who went on to tour the historic building and its living quarters. Bush and Obama were seen striding along the White House Colonnade enroute to talk business in the Oval Office. The president and the president-elect, each wearing a dark suit, white shirt and blue tie, waved to crowds who watched through the White House fence. After their meeting, the president took Obama on a tour of the residence, including the living quarters, the Lincoln bedroom and the rooms where Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia, will soon live.
President Bush described the conversation as "good, constructive, relaxed and friendly" and a source close to Obama told ABC news the senator immediately remarked how gracious President Bush was.
While Bush and Obama were talking politics, Mrs. Bush gave Michelle Obama a tour of the White House. In the hour they spent together, the two wives discussed family life and children.
The meeting was expected to be cordial, but it had the potential to become awkward. Obama has spent most of the last two years deriding Bush's economic, environmental and foreign policies, and the tactic produced a landslide victory over Sen. John McCain.
But the two men have also had kind words for each other and both are consummate politicians able to smooth over delicate moments when necessary.
The Obamas traveled to Washington from Chicago separately, and they left the White House separately. Michelle Obama left first in her own motorcade. She was scheduled to check out some schools for her daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.