President-elect Barack Obama and President Bush had a long meeting at the White House today, described by the president as “good, constructive, relaxed, and friendly,” according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.
As the Obamas prepare to move into their new home on Pennsylvania Avenue, the president and president-elect took part in the traditional meeting while First Lady Laura Bush gave soon-to-be First Lady Michelle Obama a grand tour.
The president and president-elect spent more than an hour meeting privately in the Oval Office. The two men are said to have had “a broad discussion about the importance of working together throughout the transition of government in light of the nation’s many critical economic and security challenges,” said the Obama transition team spokesperson Stephanie Cutter.
The leaders “spoke about both domestic and international issues, though since it was a private meeting the White House will decline to comment on specifics. … “The president enjoyed his visit with the president-elect, and he again pledged a smooth transition to the next administration,” said the White House.
In addition to discussing the transition of power, the two were expected to discuss the critical issues facing the nation, especially the economy and a proposed stimulus package. The auto industry is seeking a bailout and on the eve of the meeting shipper DHL announced it was cutting 9,500 jobs as it discontinues operations within the U.S.
The first lady gave Michelle Obama a tour of the White House that focused primarily on the private residence. After the tour, they spent time in the West Sitting Hall, where they discussed raising daughters in the White House, “as Jenna and Barbara Bush were similar in age to Malia and Sasha Obama when they visited their grandfather, President George H. W. Bush, during his presidency,” said the transition team. Mrs. Obama also met with the White House chief usher.”
The president also showed the Illinois senator the living quarters, including the office the president uses, the Lincoln bedroom, and the rooms for the Obamas’ two young daughters.
“President-elect Obama thanked President Bush for his commitment to a smooth transition, and for his and First Lady Laura Bush’s gracious hospitality in welcoming the Obama’s to the White House,” according to the Obama transition team.
Neither Bush nor Obama spoke to the media either before or after the meeting.
Though during his campaign Obama focused on linking Sen. John McCain to the “failed policies” of the Bush administration, he entered today’s meeting “with a spirit of bipartisanship, and a sense that both the president and various leaders of Congress all recognize the severity of the situation right now and want to get stuff done,” Obama said Friday at his first press conference.
Bush, who had endorsed McCain, lauded Obama’s victory as a “triumph of the American story.”
“I know the president will want to convey to President-elect