Obama Says Despite Reservations, He Hopes Trump 'Makes Things Better'

Obama spoke to the press before his final foreign trip as president.

November 14, 2016, 4:53 PM

— -- Barack Obama today called for unity as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to takes over in January, despite the president's reservations about Trump's ability to lead the U.S.

Obama said that the outcome of the election leaves him with "concerns" and that many didn't foresee Trump's victory.

"There was a lot of folks who missed the Trump phenomenon ... that connection that he was able to make ... that was impervious to events that might have sunk another candidate. That's powerful stuff," Obama said in his first press conference since the 2016 election. "What's clear was that he is able to tap into, yes, the anxieties but also the enthusiasm of his voters in a way that was impressive."

While he promised his administration is working with Trump's transition team, Obama said he has reservations about Trump's temperament, adding that the presidency often magnifies any personal weaknesses.

"There are going to be certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well unless he recognizes them and corrects them," Obama said.

He talked about his own inability to keep track of "stacks of briefing books" and said he has surrounded himself with "people who can help" and he hopes Trump does the same.

"The people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next president," Obama said. "It will be up to him to set up a team that will serve his policies."

Obama added, "My hope is he makes things better. And if he does, we'll all benefit from it."

He also said Trump is going to have to reach out to those who disagree with him. "Because of the nature of the campaigns and the bitterness and the ferocity of the campaigns ... it's really important to try to send some signals of unity and to try to reach out to minority groups and women and others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign," he said.

Obama added, "It is important for us to let him make his decisions." And in the end, the American people will judge "if they like what they see."

He said he felt that Trump is "sincere" in wanting to move the country forward. "[Trump] is going to try and make sure he delivers" for his supporters and for those who voted for Hillary Clinton, Obama said.

"People will still be looking to the United States. Our example will still carry great weight," he added.

Asked what he thought about Breitbart News Chairman Stephen Bannon's appointment as chief strategist, Obama declined to comment, citing his desire for a smooth transition of power. "I think it's fair to say that 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."

In talking with Trump last week, Obama said he learned the incoming administration is committed to maintaining the role the U.S. plays with NATO and its allies.

"In my conversation with the president-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships, and so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the trans-Atlantic alliance," Obama said.

He offered his advice to the Democratic Party for the future, saying, "We have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere."

Later today, Obama will depart on his final foreign trip as commander in chief and will make stops in Europe and Peru.

He said his administration has "stabilized the American economy" and will continue to do so as the hand-off to Trump and his team occurs.

Trump has stated he will dismantle some of Obama's top initiatives after he becomes president.

"This office is bigger than any one person, and that's why ensuring a smooth transition is so important," Obama said at the start of the press conference.

"The learning curve always continues," he added. "This is a remarkable job. It is like no other job on earth, and it is a constant flow of information, challenges and issues. That is true now more than it ever has been."

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