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Obama on being president: ‘This office has a way of waking you up’

November 14, 2016 at 6:40 PM EST
President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon -- who has been accused of racist and anti-Semitic sentiments -- as his White House chief strategist was met with criticism on Monday. The transition dominated President Obama’s press conference, during which he said both Americans and world leaders need to give his successor time to show what he means to do.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know that Gwen would have wanted us to report the other news of this very full day, too. And that’s what we are going to do next.

But we will be back at the end of the program with a conversation Gwen had with her dear friend, former NPR host Michele Norris.

To that other news now.

President-elect Donald Trump ran into growing criticism today of one of his first transition appointments. On Sunday, he named conservative media executive Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. Bannon’s been accused of racist and anti-Semitic sentiments, and Democrats condemned the choice, while the Trump team defended it.

REP. BETTY MCCOLLUM (D-Minn.): The fact that Republicans have been silent on Bannon’s appointment is a disturbing sign.

It shows that the Republican Party has embraced Trump’s campaign agenda blatant sexism, racial bigotry and of religious intolerance.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, Trump Campaign Manager: I’m personally offended that you would think I would manage a campaign where that would be one of the going philosophies. It was not. And, as you know, 66-million-plus Americans or so saw something else.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Also today, the president-elect spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and told him he looks for a strong and enduring relationship with Moscow.

Meanwhile, protests continued against his election. In East Los Angeles today, students left class and marched toward City Hall to demonstrate.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The election and transition dominated President Obama’s White House news conference today. It lasted well over an hour, and came before he left on his final overseas trip as president.

The president said both Americans and world leaders need to give his successor time to show what he means to do.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: In my conversation with the president-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships.

And so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance. I think that’s one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage during this trip is to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America’s commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship and a recognition that those alliances aren’t just good for Europe. They are good for the United States, and they are vital for the world.

I have been encouraged by his statements on election night about the need for unity and his interest in being the president for all people. And that how he staffs, the first steps he takes, the first impressions he makes, the reset that can happen after an election, all those things are important and should be thought about.

And I think it’s important to give him the room and the space to do that. It takes time to put that together.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president-elect starts making, if I want to be consistent with the notion that we are going to try to facilitate a smooth transition.

But the people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next president, the 45th President of the United States. And it will be up to him to set up a team that he thinks will serve him well and reflect his policies. And those who didn’t vote for him have to recognize that that’s how democracy works.

Regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office has a way of waking you up. And those — those aspects of his positions or predispositions that don’t match up with reality, he will find shaken up pretty quick, because reality has a way of asserting itself.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC News: Mr. President, you had talked specifically about his temperament. Do you still have any concern about his temperament?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are going to be certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well, unless he recognizes them and corrects them, because when you’re a candidate and you say something that is inaccurate or controversial, it has less impact than it does when you’re president of the United States.

Everybody around the world’s paying attention. Markets move.

On the deferred action program that we have, known as DACA, that relates to dreamers who are currently benefiting from these provisions, I will urge the president-elect and the incoming administration to think long and hard before they are endangering the status of what, for all practical purposes, are American kids.

So, we will try to share the lessons that we have learned over these last eight years with the incoming president. And my hope is, he makes things better. And, if he does, we will all benefit from it.

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