Obama promises peaceful transition of power, urges country to unite behind Trump

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 09: U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement on the election results at the Rose Garden of the White House November 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. Republican presidential nominee has won the election and will become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Caption
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 09: U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement on the election results at the Rose Garden of the White House November 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. Republican presidential nominee has won the election and will become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Credit: Alex Wong

Credit: Alex Wong

President Barack Obama promised a peaceful transition of power between his and President-elect Donald Trump's administrations while speaking to reporters Wednesday outside the White House.

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"It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences, but remember that eight years ago, President (George W.) Bush and I had some pretty significant differences," Obama said. "One thing you realize pretty quickly in this job is that the presidency and the vice presidency is bigger than any of us."

He congratulated the president-elect in a call early Wednesday and invited him to visit the White House on Thursday.

"We are now all rooting for a success in uniting and leading the country," Obama said. "The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy, and over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world."

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He urged the country to come together in the wake of a contentious election battle between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Early Wednesday, Clinton conceded the race to Trump after it became clear that she would not be able to secure the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

"Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after, we have to remember that we're actually all on one team," Obama said. "This is an intermural scrimmage. We are not Democrats first. We are not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We are patriots. We all want what's best for our country."

Obama said he heard echoes of those feelings in Trump's victory speech.

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"That's what the country needs -- a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect in our institutions, our way of life, rule of law and respect for each other," he said. "I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition."

The relationship between Trump and Obama has been strained over the years, fueled by Trump's insistence that the president was born in Kenya and ineligible for office and Obama's needling of the business mogul.

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At the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, Obama joked that if Trump should run for president and win, Trump would redesign the White House in the image of one of his hotels. In that same year, Hawaii released Obama's long-form birth certificate to counteract allegations regarding Obama's birthplace.

Trump acknowledged earlier this year that Obama was born in the United States.