U.S. President Barack Obama made an extra effort Monday (Nov. 14) to build a positive image of a seamless transition to the new president-elect, using a White House briefing to list the accomplishments of “his team” while taking a philosophical stance about the incoming administration.
The president held a wide-ranging news conference, allowing plenty of time to answer questions from the White House press corps about his still-evolving reactions to the election of President-elect Donald Trump. The briefing came just hours before he boarded the plane for his final trip overseas as president.
The six-day journey will include meetings in Greece, Germany and Peru with European leaders, China’s president and Australia’s prime minister.
At every stop, Obama will also need to talk about his successor, and to try to reverse some of the damage done from prior remarks abroad in which he underlined how completely unprepared Trump is to lead America.
Obama began that process at home in the White House before boarding Air Force One, with many positive remarks about his recent meeting with the president-elect.
“I don’t think he is ideological, I think ultimately he is pragmatic,” Obama told reporters, “… and that can serve him well, as long as he has got good people around him, and he has a good sense of direction.”
He also said that he believes Trump is entering office with “fewer set hard and fast policy prescriptions than a lot of other presidents might be arriving with. Do I have concerns? Absolutely, of course I’ve got concerns. He and I differ on a whole bunch of issues,” he said.
However, Obama repeatedly ducked questions from numerous reporters who tried to pin him down on whether or not he still believes Trump is “unfit” to be president, as Obama had said during the campaign.
He also refused to comment on any of Trump’s appointments, saying, “I think it is important for us to let him make his decisions.
“This office has a way of waking you up,” he added with the ghost of an ironic chuckle. “Those aspects of his positions or his predispositions that don’t match up with reality, he will find shaken up pretty quick, because reality has a way of asserting itself,” he said.