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Obama Pledges to Help Trump Transition Into White House

Obama congratulated Donald Trump and vowed to work with his team to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in his first public comments since the election results.
Image: U.S.  President Obama delivers statement on U.S. presidential election results from the White House in Washington
President Barack Obama, with Vice-President Joe Biden at his side, delivers a statement from the Rose Garden in the White House the morning after Donald Trump was elected the next U.S. president in Washington on Nov. 9.KEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters

President Barack Obama congratulated President-elect Donald Trump and vowed to work with his team to ensure a peaceful transition of power in his first public comments since the Republican’s stunning victory.

“It is not secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences,” Obama said in remarks at the White House on Wednesday. "But remember, eight years ago, President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences.”

The president said he would instruct his team to follow the example set by President George W. Bush’s team as they transitioned out of power, starting with meeting with Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

“We are now all rooting for success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy," he added.

The president spoke shortly after Clinton delivered a concession speech in New York City congratulating Trump and urging supporters to remain engaged in the political process.

“This is painful, and it will be for a long time,” Clinton told supporters. “But I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted.”

Obama said he "could not be prouder" of the campaign Clinton ran and her service as his secretary of state. He also said he told his team "keep their heads up" for the work they've done over the past eight years.

The president became one of Clinton’s most active surrogates in the final weeks of the campaign, making numerous stops at college campuses in battleground states warning about the dangers of apathy.

“Don’t boo, vote,” Obama repeated during the closing weeks of the campaign.

But the base of voters that propelled Obama to two national victories did not turn out for Clinton in the way they did for him. Exit polls show Clinton’s support from African-Americans, Latinos, and young voters down from what it was for the president four years ago.

Obama was also one of Trump’s harshest critics when it came to the real estate mogul’s claims that the election could be “rigged,” saying it threatens the foundation of the American electoral process.

“When you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people's minds about the legitimacy of our elections, that undermines our democracy," Obama said at a rally last month.

Trump’s victory over his former secretary of state is largely seen as a blow to the president’s legacy. A Republican controlled White House and Congress leaves the fate of the Affordable Care Act, as well as the president’s actions on immigration, climate change and foreign policy in jeopardy.

Obama began his remarks by mentioning a Buzzfeed video released on Election Day telling Americans that, no matter what, the sun would rise Wednesday morning.

“That is one bit of prognosticating that actually came true,” he said, taking a shot at polling that largely showed Clinton poised to win. "The sun is up."