After an eventful night resulting in President-elect Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden stood together before the press in the White House Rose Garden to officially address the election Wednesday morning. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic nominee Clinton also addressed the matter in separate press conferences, the latter of which finally saw the former secretary of state deliver an official concession speech. Yet Obama’s remarks offered one of the most positive outlooks on what turned out to be a rather eventful — if not contentious — race.
Obama, who congratulated Trump late Tuesday night soon after the election was called in his favor, reminded everyone present about his transition to power following President George W. Bush’s second term in office:
“President Bush’s team could not have been more professional and or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition, so that we could hit the ground running. One thing you realize quickly in this job is that the presidency and the vice presidency is bigger than any of us. So I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect. Because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.”
“The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy,” Obama added, stressing that — regardless of the “pretty significant differences” between him and Trump — this tradition wouldn’t go unheeded between now and January 20, 2017. He also praised the Republican nominee for his gracious acceptance speech, and hoped its content would carry throughout his presidency.
“We’re not Democrats first, we’re not Republicans first — we are Americans first. We’re patriots first,” he said. “We all want what’s best for this country. That’s what I heard in Mr. Trump’s remarks last night. That’s what I heard when I spoke to him directly, and I was heartened by that. That’s what the country needs.”