WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama promised Wednesday to work for a “smooth transition” of power to President-elect Donald Trump when he leaves office in January, citing the example set by former President George W. Bush eight years ago.
“I had a chance to talk to President-elect Trump last night at 3:30 in the morning to congratulate him on winning the election and invited him to the White House tomorrow to talk about making sure there is a successful transition between our two presidencies,” Obama said from the White House Rose Garden with Vice President Joe Biden at his side.
Obama campaigned hard against Trump to boost his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who conceded the race in a speech earlier Wednesday morning.
“It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences,” Obama said, adding later, that “we all want what’s best for this country.”
Many of the White House staff who had come out to hear the President speak were emotional immediately preceding his remarks. Obama sought to comfort his supporters and the Clinton campaign, saying he was “heartened” by a message of unity and inclusion when he spoke with Trump on the phone.
“I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition and I certainly hope that’s how his presidency will begin,” Obama said.
Obama praised his staff for working relentlessly on behalf of the American people, saying the America Trump inherits is better than the one he was handed in 2008.
“Everyone on my team should be extraordinarily proud of everything they have done,” Obama said.
Obama added, “Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. The day after, we have to remember we’re all on the same team.”
Obama, who publicly called Trump “unfit” for the Oval Office, campaigned aggressively for Clinton in the weeks leading up to Election Day to keep the former reality show star from being his successor.
“The choice you face when you step into that voting booth could not be more clear or could not be more serious,” Obama said in Philadelphia on Monday.