Hours after Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in a stunning upset, President Barack Obama addressed the nation on Wednesday, declaring, “we are all now rooting for” the president-elect.
Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden that while he and Trump have “significant differences,” “the presidency and the vice presidency is bigger than any of us.” The president noted that he and his own successor, former President George W. Bush, also had very different viewpoints but that the Bush administration “could not have been more helpful and gracious” in helping him transition to the White House.
“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,” Obama said. “We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.”
The president also said that he called Trump early Wednesday morning to congratulate him on his win and invite him to the White House on Thursday.
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“The day after, we have to remember that we are actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage,” Obama said. “We’re patriots first. 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.”
Obama said he had also spoken with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, adding that he “could not be prouder” of his former secretary of state, her candidacy and her “historic” nomination. “She has lived an extraordinary life of public service,” he said.
The president strove to give Clinton supporters a silver lining to cling to, chalking the loss up to “the nature of campaigns, that’s the nature of democracy.”
“I’ve lost elections before,” Obama said, and then — in a playful dig at Vice President Joe Biden, who was standing behind him — Obama added, “Joe hasn’t.”
Biden, who lost the 2008 primary to Obama, leaned over to the mic and said, “You beat me badly.”
Obama continued, “If we lose — we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off. Then we go forward, with the presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens.”
“That is why I am confident that this incredible journey we are on as Americans will go on.”