One of them needs to assure the American people that he's still in charge of navigating a massive financial crisis during his final months in office. The other needs to convey that he's gearing up to help fix it while making sure he's not technically calling the shots.
A transition from a Republican administration to a Democratic one is already a fragile dance, but even more so when the nation's economy needs an immediate pick-me-up at the exact same time.
"What you're going to see in the next 48 hours is a continuity," Peter Morici, a business professor at the University of Maryland, told ABCNews.com. "We're going to really learn that the Obama administration and the Bush administration are not much different when it comes to banking policy and economy policy."
Both President-elect Barack Obama and outgoing Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson plan to speak Tuesday about the nation's finances. Both President Bush and Obama also spoke publicly Monday to assuage concerns over the deepening economic crisis, and pledge cooperation during the presidential transition.
"I've asked my economic team to develop recommendations for this plan and to consult with Congress, the current administration, and the Federal Reserve on immediate economic developments over the next two months," Obama said at a Monday press conference set up to introduce his economic team.
"I've requested that they brief me on these matters on a daily basis," Obama continued.
Speaking on the steps of the Treasury Department Monday alongside Paulson, Bush, too, said the incoming and outgoing administrations are working together. He said he'd talked to Obama about the government's rescue of Citigroup.
"I told the American people and I told the president-elect when I first met him that anytime we were to make a big decision during this transition, he will be informed, as will his team," Bush said. "Secretary Paulson's working closely with the president-elect's transition team, and it's important for the American people to know that there is close cooperation."
"I don't think he wants to be seen as trying to upstage Obama, so I would assume this was coordinated," Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economics and Policy Research, told ABCNews.com.
But keeping up the appearance that the transition is going smoothly, while at the same time, promising major change, is a challenge for Obama's team.
Though Obama expressed optimism for economic recovery, he also declined to discuss specifics of his incoming administration's stimulus package or to take a solid stance on current tax cuts put in place by Bush. Obama said he'd wait for the recommendation of his newly-assembled economic team.
To lead that team, Obama Monday introduced Timothy Geithner as his treasury secretary nominee and Larry Summers, who would be director of the National Economic Council. Obama championed their experience and ability to take a new look at the economic crisis.
"I've sought leaders who could offer both sound judgment and fresh thinking, both a depth of experience and a wealth of bold, new ideas, and most of all, who share my fundamental belief that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street without a thriving Main Street," Obama said.