They had been in the same room before, been at the opposite ends of an argument, and traded insults and nasty words, but they had never met. Until Thursday, when President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump finally met, at the White House no less.
“Good man,” Trump said about Obama in response to a question, a man he had made a career out of rubbishing, questioning his birthplace and claiming he was disqualified for office. But, on meeting his predecessor, Trump went on to say he planned to meet Obama more often, and turn to him for counsel.
True to his personality, Obama was restrained and less effusive and more professional, stating it was his intent to make Trump and his wife Melania’s transition as smooth as possible.
“We talked about some organizational issues in setting up the White House,” Obama said in brief remarks with Trump seated on his right. “We talked about foreign policy. We talked about domestic policy.”
He continued: “As I said last night, my number one priority in the next coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful and I have been very encouraged by the interest of President-elect Trump wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces.
“I believe that it is important for all, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together to deal with the many challenges we face.”
Trump spoke next and started out saying they had never met before. “This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and we were just going to get to know each other. We had never met each other. I have great respect. The meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half. And it could have -- as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer.”
He said the two of them discussed a lot of different situations, “some wonderful and some difficulties”, and the he very much look forward to dealing with the President in the future, “including counsel”.
“He (Obama) explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved. So, Mr. President, it was a great honour being with you, and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.”
First lady Michelle Obama also meet privately in the White House residence with Trump’s wife, Melania, while Vice President Joe Biden prepared to see Vice President-elect Mike Pence later Thursday.
No details were available of the First Lady’s meet with her successor, but pundits speculated it could have included discussions about a school for Barron, Trump’s 10-year-old son.