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Trump and Obama set campaign rancour aside with White House meeting

  • Published at 04:13 pm November 11th, 2016
  • Last updated at 04:17 pm November 11th, 2016
Trump and Obama set campaign rancour aside with White House meeting

US President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump met on Thursday for the first time, setting aside the deep rancour that dominated the long campaign season to discuss the transition to the Republican's inauguration on January 20.

Their 90-minute meeting in the White House Oval Office, with no aides present, took place just two days after Trump's stunning election victory over Hillary Clinton, Obama's former secretary of state.

Obama, who vigorously campaigned for his fellow Democrat to succeed him, had repeatedly called Trump unfit for the president's office, while the businessman had often dubbed Obama's eight-year tenure a disaster.

But in separate post-election remarks on Wednesday, both men appeared to seek to help the country heal from a bitterly divisive campaign, and that tone continued into the White House meeting.

Seated next to Obama after their talks, Trump told reporters, "We really discussed a lot of situations, some wonderful, some difficulties." He said Obama explained, "some of the really great things that have been achieved," but did not elaborate.

"It was a great honour being with you and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future," Trump said, with a tone of deference. "A fantastic day in DC Met with President Obama for first time. Really good meeting, great chemistry," Trump said on Twitter late on Thursday. Obama said he had offered assistance to Trump over the next couple of months, and urged the country to unite to face its challenges. "We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, then the country succeeds," Obama said, adding he and Trump discussed a range of domestic and foreign policy issues and details related to the transition period. "The meeting might have been at least a little less awkward than some might have expected," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. The two men's relaxed, cordial demeanour in front of the cameras was in stark contrast to the months of harsh rhetoric during the campaign.

On the hill

Trump went from the White House to Capitol Hill for meetings with Republican congressional leaders, most of whom had a frosty relationship with Trump during a campaign where he tore into the Washington establishment.

Republicans retained control of the Senate and House in Tuesday's election, meaning at least some of Trump's agenda may find friendly terrain in Congress.

Trump emerged from meeting Ryan, along with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, to tell reporters, "We’re going to lower taxes as you know.” He added, in reference to Obama's signature healthcare reform of 2010 that is a common target of Trump and congressional Republicans: “We’re going to fix healthcare and make it more affordable and better." In what seemed like a possible early pivot by Trump, controversial campaign proposals, including his call to ban Muslims from entering the United States, disappeared for a while on Thursday from the president-elect's campaign website. His campaign later blamed a technical problem and the statements were returned to the website. Trump declined to respond when asked by reporters after meeting with McConnell if he would ask Congress to ban Muslims from entering the country. Michelle Obama met privately with Trump's wife, Melania, in the White House residence. Michelle Obama has raised two daughters in the White House and the Trumps have a son, 10 year-old Barron. The two women discussed raising children at the White House, Earnest said. "Melania liked Mrs O a lot!," Donald Trump said on Twitter.
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