Outgoing US President Barack Obama on Tuesday offered a parting message of hope for a country governed by Donald Trump, assuring Americans that “we’re going to be OK”, even as he vowed to speak up if the country’s core values are threatened.
“At my core I think we’re going to be OK,” Obama said as he concluded his final news conference at the White House.
“We just have to fight for it, work for it, and not take it for granted,” he said.
Obama said that he has given his best advice to his successor Trump to whom he would pass on his baton on January 20.
“I have offered my best advice, counsel about certain issues both foreign and domestic,” Obama said, describing his conversations with the president-elect.
“And my working assumption is, is that having won an election opposed to a number of my initiatives and certain aspects of my vision for where the country needs to go, it is appropriate for him to go forward with his vision and his values. I don’t expect that there?s going to be enormous overlap,” Obama said.
He said now his priorities would be to do some writing, spend some time with his two daughters and Michelle.
“I want to do some writing, I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much. I want to spend precious time with my girls,” he said.
However, he said any effort to enforce systematic discrimination, erode voting rights, muzzle the press or round up young immigrants, would cause him to speak out.
“There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.”
During the campaign, Trump vowed to ban Muslims from entering the United States and deport millions of illegal immigrants.
After Trump’s victory in the November 8 presidential elections, Obama has met his successor only once, but the two leaders have spoken over phone quite frequently with the last one being reported to be on Monday.
“I won?t go into details of my conversations with President-elect Trump. They are cordial. At times they’ve been fairly lengthy and they’ve been substantive. I can’t tell you how convincing I?ve been. I think you’d had to ask him whether I?ve been convincing or not,” he said when asked about the details of his conversations.
Obama said it may be that on certain issues, once Trump comes into office and he looks at the complexities of how to, in fact, provide health care for everybody—something he says he wants to do or wants to make sure that he is encouraging job creation and wage growth in this country, that that may lead him to some of the same conclusions that he arrived at once I got here.
“But I don’t think we?ll know until he has an actual chance to get sworn in and sit behind that desk. I think a lot of his views are going to be shaped by his advisors, the people around him—which is why it?s important to pay attention to these confirmation hearings,” he said.
“I can tell you that—this is something I have told him that this is a job of such magnitude that you can’t do it by yourself. You are enormously reliant on a team. Your Cabinet, your senior White House staff, all the way to fairly junior folks in their 20s and 30s, but who are executing on significant responsibilities,” he said.