Barack Obama and Donald Trump on Thursday put past animosity aside during a 90-minute White House meeting, as protests against the Republican property mogul’s shock election rumbled across US cities for the second night.
The outgoing Democratic president and his successor vowed to carry out a smooth transition of power, as they huddled one-on-one in the Oval Office, for what Obama characterized as an “excellent conversation” and then put on a remarkably civil joint public appearance.
“It is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face,” Obama said.
Trump appeared more subdued than usual, and was unusually cautious and deferential in his remarks.
“Mr President, it was a great honor being with you,” Trump said, calling Obama a “very good man.”
The meeting, which came less than 36 hours after Trump’s shock election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, had the potential to be awkward.
After all, Trump championed the so-called “birther movement” challenging that Obama was actually born in the United States — a suggestion laden with deep racial overtones — only dropping the position recently.
And if the president-elect fulfills his campaign promises, he will unravel almost all of Obama’s signature achievements.
Trump — who previously called Obama the “most ignorant president in our history” — said he looked forward to receiving the president’s counsel.
Obama — who previously said Trump was a whiner and “uniquely unqualified” to be commander-in-chief — vowed his support.
He told Trump that his administration would “do everything we can to help you succeed, because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.”
The two men ended the improbable and historic White House encounter with a handshake and refused to take questions, appearing to find common cause in their opinion of the press.
“Here’s a good rule. Don’t answer questions when they just start yelling,” Obama told Trump.