President Barack Obama said Thursday that he has advised his successor, President-elect Donald Trump, to shift gears from a raucous campaign trail and set the right tone during the transition process.
“What I said to him was, what may work in generating enthusiasm or passion during elections may be different from what will work in terms of unifying the country and gaining the trust of those who didn’t support him,” Obama said during a press conference in Berlin, referencing a meeting the two men had last week at the White House. “He’s indicated his willingness, his understanding of that. That has to reflect in not only what he says but how he fills out his administration.”
“My hope is that’s something he’s thinking about,” the president added, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel standing by his side. “Because not only is the president of the United States somebody the entire country looks to for direction, but sets the agenda internationally in a lot of ways.”
The president-elect is in the process of selecting his Cabinet, as well as deciding who will fill thousands of lower-level executive positions and take the reins of government once Obama steps down in January. He has been slow to hit the ground running, however, with reports of disarray and lack of communication between Trump’s team and administration officials.
Trump’s staffing decisions have also come under intense scrutiny. Scores of congressional Democrats have called on Trump to part ways with Steve Bannon, the newly named White House chief strategist. Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a website that traffics in white nationalist sentiment, and hundreds of people in cities across the country have taken to the streets to demonstrate against him.
Trump complained on Twitter last week about “unfair” demonstrators, calling them “professional protesters” who were “incited by the media.” He seemed to walk back the statement a day later, tweeting, “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”
During his press conference on Thursday, Obama elaborated about the responsibilities of the presidency, further urging his successor to take the job seriously in order to help unify the country.
“If you’re not serious about the job, you probably won’t be there very long,” the president said. “He will see fairly quickly, the demands and responsibilities of a U.S. president are not ones that you can treat casually. That in a big, complex, diverse country, the only way you can be successful is by listening, reaching out and working with a wide variety of people.”
“It is my hope that that is what will happen,” he added.
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