Like Hillary Clinton, President Obama gave a speech he wasn’t expecting to on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 9). Standing in the White House Rose Garden with Vice President Joe Biden by his side, Obama offered his first comments on Tuesday night’s historic election, which saw his one-time Sec. of State go down in shocking defeat to real estate mogul Donald Trump.
“Yesterday, before votes were tallied I shot a video that some of you may have seen, in which I said to the American people, ‘Regardless of which side you were on in the election, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, the sun would come up in the morning,'” said Obama, who has 71 days left in his second term as commander in chief. “And that is one bit of prognosticating that actually came true. The sun is up, and I know everybody had a long night. I did as well.”
In his 10-minute address, Obama said he had a chance to speak to president-elect Trump around 3:30 in the morning and he congratulated the former Apprentice star on his victory. He also said he invited Trump to the White House on Thursday (Nov. 10) to discuss the transition of power between their administrations. “Now it is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences,” Obama added of the man who spent years questioning the veracity of Obama’s birth certificate and fitness to lead the country.
“But remember, eight years ago President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences. But President Bush’s team could not have been more professional, or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition, so that we could hit the ground running,” he recalled, saying he’s instructed his team to make sure that this hand-over is a smooth and professional as the one between Bush’s and his own.
“I also had a chance last night to speak to Sec. Clinton and I just had a chance to hear her remarks,” he said of his former cabinet member’s emotional concession speech earlier Wednesday morning. “I could not be prouder of her. She has led an extraordinary life of public service. She was a great First Lady, she was an outstanding Senator for the state of New York and she could not have been a better Secretary of State.”
The president, whose legendary oratory skills helped lift him to the White House as the nation’s first black president, then got a bit poetic, describing how democracy is often hard, contentious, noisy, and yes — after a campaign that featured an endless string of insults, outrageous claims and the some of the coarsest language ever heard on the stump — “not always inspiring.” But for those who voted for the first time on Tuesday, Obama hoped that they would not be discouraged or cynical about the process. “Sometimes you lose an argument,” he said. “Sometimes you lose an election.”
What we can’t lose, though, the president continued, is the very thing that has been the cornerstone of our democratic experiment, the belief that democracy is good and democracy is right. “Because we are now all rooting for his [Trump’s] 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.”
Watch the president’s comments: