Obama acknowledged he had offered advice to Trump, saying he emphasized the need to shift from campaigning to governing, and the importance of resetting the tone after a contentious election.
In a White House news conference Monday, Obama said he advised Trump "to reach out to minority groups or women or others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign" and "that's something that he will want to do".
Whereas Obama hailed Trump's "impressive" ability to speak to voters, he also delivered a subtle critique of Clinton's campaign.
Speaking to the press ahead of his final worldwide trip as president, Obama said it was important for the American people to allow Trump to make decisions and settle into the office before judging his presidency. Those who didn't vote for him have to understand, that's how the system works. Obama said that Trump's lack of a solid policy foundation could make him open to change.
"Of course I have got concerns".
"If things get better" under a Trump administration, "more power to him, and I'll be the first to congratulate him", the outgoing president said.
Obama said that the new administration will have to take things slowly and to think through how various issues play out, giving as an example the Affordable Care Act.
But after an election during which the president repeatedly questioned Trump's temperament, called him unfit to lead, and lambasted his divisive rhetoric, Obama was more tight-lipped on Monday on Trump's qualifications.
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"The whole trip was created to give Europe a boost of self-confidence because Europe was increasingly anxious about the nature of the United States presidential campaign, the tone and tenor coming from then-candidate Donald Trump", said Heather Conley, senior vice president for Europe at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He said the trans-Atlantic alliance and NATO have endured for decades under Democratic and Republican parties alike - and those are partnerships that no one president could undo.
"Whatever you bring to this office, this office has a habit of magnifying and pointing out, and hopefully then you correct for", Obama said.
Even as Trump has threatened to overturn many of his signature policy achievements, Obama sought to assuage concerns about Trump's presidency. He called Trump "a gregarious person" and "somebody who I think likes to mix it up and to have a vigorous debate". "Those aspects of his positions or his predispositions that don't match up with reality, he will find shaken up pretty quick because reality has a way of asserting itself".
However, Obama also said he had some "concerns" about Trump. He said national security "requires a level of precision" so deadly mistakes aren't made. "I think it's important to give him the room and the space to do that".
"I hope it was useful", Obama said.
Sure, the former Celebrity Apprentice host played President by selecting RNC Chair Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff and Breitbart News' Steve Bannon as his chief strategist over the weekend... but Donald apparently didn't know his camp also had to hire help for the rest of the West Wing! "As long as he's got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction", the president said.
"There is enormous continuity beyond the day to day news that makes us the indispensable resource for the world", Obama added.
Obama argued Monday that despite there being some "deeply disaffected" people, the country he will turn over to Trump is in better shape than it was in when he took office in 2009, amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.