President Barack Obama told the nation Wednesday that he is “rooting for” President-elect Donald Trump to unify and lead the country in the years ahead. In comments to reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House the morning after Trump’s stunning win, Obama said he had instructed his staff to mirror the professionalism and grace that George W. Bush’s staff had shown his team during the transition in 2008 and early 2009.
“Everybody is sad when their side loses an election,” Obama said, in an effort to console Democrats left stunned by Hillary Clinton’s loss to businessman Trump in the hard-fought 2016 race. “The day after, we have to remember that we are all on one team,” he said. “We are Americans first. We are patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country,” he said.
Obama acknowledged that there are “significant differences” between himself and the president-elect but noted, “Sometimes you lose an argument, sometimes you lose an election.”
The president’s magnanimity was striking as it came just two days after he warned Americans that Trump “lacks a basic understanding of the world” and is “temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief.” He reiterated Wednesday that he sees the Oval Office as a baton relay, and that he was now passing the baton to Trump.
Still, it’s possible that Obama was just as shocked as the rest of the political and media establishment. The sun coming up Wednesday morning, he said, was the “one bit of prognosticating that actually came true.”