On Thursday, November 10, President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama shook hands for the very first time. The meeting between the current president and his unexpected successor, which was originally scheduled for fifteen minutes, lasted an hour and a half.
While the cameras were present, Trump and Obama were both extremely gracious in their comments about each other. Trump described President Obama as a “very good man” and stated that he would seek “counsel” from him. For his part, President Obama said that his “No. 1 priority in the next two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful.”
While the transition from one presidency to another is never easy, especially when there is also a party change, the Obama-Trump meeting was especially significant given the acrimonious past history between President Obama and Mr. Trump.
President Obama has openly stated that he does not think Mr. Trump is fit to be president. These comments go back as far as the 2011 White House Correspondents’ dinner. Mr. Trump has been equally critical of President Obama including promoting the “birther” concept that President Obama was not born in the United States and therefore not eligible to be president. In September, Trump walked back the birther allegation at a staged press conference at an event honoring decorated veterans.
During his White House visit, Mr. Trump also met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with Vice President Joe Biden. First Lady-to-be Melania Trump met with First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Obama-Trump meeting, while perhaps more of a symbolic truce than a true truce, was the first step in the transition to the Trump presidency. Now the hard work begins as the 44th president prepares to pass the baton to the 45th president.
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