In his first news conference since Donald Trump’s election victory last week, President Barack Obama expressed hope that the new president-elect would “send some signals of unity” to groups around the country, especially minorities and women who remain fearful after Trump’s extreme campaign promises. Such anxieties were heightened on Sunday, after Trump announced that Stephen Bannon, who has propagated white nationalist sentiment as head of Breitbart News, would become his chief strategist and senior counsel.
“It would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president-elect starts making,” Obama said on Monday when asked about Bannon’s appointment. “The people have spoken.”
Although he was given a number of opportunities to criticize Trump, Obama avoided any negative remarks and repeated his commitment to ensuring a smooth transition of power. “Do I have concerns?” he said. “Absolutely.” But he added that he believed the former reality television star and real estate mogul would be “pragmatic” moving forward.
“Campaigning is different from governing,” Obama said. “I think he recognizes that. I think he’s sincere in wanting to be a successful president.”
On the eve of his final trip abroad as president, Obama also called on Democrats to reflect on the party’s loss and prepare to be better organized for future elections.
“I believe we have better ideas, but good ideas don’t matter if people don’t hear them,” Obama said. “Given population distribution across the country, we have to compete everywhere, we have to show up everywhere, we have to work at a grassroots level.”