tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN November 14, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
since donald trump's election begins right now. jake tapper takes it from here. welcome to this special hour of "cnn newsroom." i'm jake tapper in washington, d.c. the transition of power is well under way. but if you thought the breakneck speed of the presidential campaign might recede a bit, you might get some days off in this 71 days until the inauguration, think again. in minutes, president obama will walk out to that podium and give his first extended q&a, first extended news conference with reporters since american voters elected donald trump president of the united states. the last time we saw president obama, he said some nice things about the president-elect. they were sitting in the oval office together. but we have learned since that during that meeting and meeting with trump officials, some white house staffers say they were taken aback by how little the president-elect and his team
were aware of what exactly it takes to run the white house, how many staffers they would be inheriting versus how many they would have to appoint within that building. president-elect trump made two pivotal governing decisions yesterday, signaling how his administration will run. he he sleblgted rnc chairman reince priebus as white house chief of staff. a move applauded by establishment republicans, many of whom have very close relations with mr. priebus. the president-elect also much more controversial made breitbart chairman steve bannon chief strategist. that's been denounced by many republican and democratic officials in washington and by the southern poverty law center and anti-defamation league, both who suggest mr. bannon has made hate-mongerring and white supremacy paltable at breitbart. athena jones is at the white house where president obama will come out in minutes for this
news conference. athena, president obama over and over again on the campaign trail talked about how in his view the now president-elect, mr. trump, was unfit to be commander in chief. there's no way he's still not going to be asked if he agrees with what he said before the election. is there any indication how president obama might answer that question today? >> reporter: hi, jake. that's a question top of mind for the dozen of reporters in this room. there's some hints at how the president might answer it today. we did hear white house press secretary josh earnest asked last week about many forceful things the president has said about donald trump over the past many months, painting him at some points as an existential threat to the country. josh earnest said, look, this was the president using forceful language to illustrate why he was so passionately in support of hillary clinton, as the person he thought should replace him. josh earnest said these were, quote, authentic views that haven't changed. of course, now the president has
had a chance to sit down with president-elect donald trump, an hour and a half in the oval office. we'll have to see if anything has changed about his views of trump's fitness to hold office. i can tell you that much of the white house team, including the president himself, have said that now they are focused on a smooth and peaceful and professional transition. they've talked a lot about how they -- how much they appreciate the way george w. bush's team handled transition of power from 2008 and 2009. the president himself said after that oval office meeting last week that his number one priority over the next couple of months is to make sure there's a successful transition to a president-elect or president trump, saying making sure he's successful means that america succeeds. >> what about white house staffers saying trump and his transition team didn't fully seem to understand the magnitude, the scope of the job.
are they saying that out of alarm or saying that to signal to republicans in town that maybe the trump team needs help? what are they saying to you? >> well, i think that -- bottom line is this election surprised a lot of people. it certainly surprised the folks here at the white house. it surprised the trump campaign. we've heard a lot of reporting to that effect. so, i think they were a bit surprised that the trump team coming in and donald trump himself had what's been described as a very rudimentary grasp of white house operations. you talked about not being clear how many people have to be replaced, for instance n this building. officials described it as a wake-up call of sorts, revealing the amount of work that has to be done over the coming -- i guess it's a little under 70 days now before donald trump is sworn in and takes over here. at the white house. we do know it wasn't his whole team that came here last thursday. more formal sessions are planned between the incoming
administration and outgoing administration in the coming weeks, including more talks -- consultations president-elect trump and president obama. jake? >> athena, stand by. we'll come back to you in a second. likely to come up in minutes at president obama's news conference, president-elect trump's first governing decisions which have been made. his crowning of the controversial steve bannon as white house chief strategist and senior counselor can kellyanne conway called bannon the general who led trump to a white house win. groups have come back saying prejudice and bigotry and even former employees of breitbart say bannon has tried to mainstream ideologies of the alt-rights, conservatives and populists. jim acosta has more on the bannon appointment and how it's worrying both democrats and republicans.
>> reporter: in selecting stephen bannon as chief strategist, trump has invited into the oval office one of the leaders of the so-called alt-right movement, conservative, populists, and antisee mights. they say he'll act as equal partners with rnc chair reince priebus, who will be white house chief of staff. while top trump advisers are praising the bannon pick -- >> he's been the general of this campaign. >> reporter: bannon is already coming under fire over his time as chairman of breitbart news which at times has featured white supremacist material, calling bill crystal a republican agad jew, women to log off and saying political correctness protects a muslim rape cull tufr. he's called for a republican takeover. >> what we need to do is bitch-slap the republican party and get those guys to -- if we have to, we'll take it over. >> reporter: a spokesman for
harry reid said in a statement, president-elect trump's choice of steve bannon as top aide signals white supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in trump's white house. >> the guy i know is a guy that isn't any of those things. he is a guy who is pretty -- he's very, very smart. very temperate. >> reporter: the bannon pick could inflame anti-trump protesters. the reports of churches vandalized with neo-nazi messaging and attacks on minorities, which trump told "60 minutes" must come to an end. >> i am so saddened to hear that and i say stop it. if it -- if it helps, i will say this, and i'll say it right to the camera, stop it. >> reporter: on the issues trump so far signaling a potential softening on sensitive topics suggesting he won't work to outlaw same-sex marriage. >> these cases have gone to the supreme court. they've been settled.
and i think -- and i'm fine with that. >> reporter: but on another front, roe versus wade trump said he would appoint anti-abortion judges. if it's overturned, it would be up to the states to decide. >> well, they'll perhaps have to go -- go to another state. >> reporter: as for trump's signature campaign issue -- >> don't worry about it. we're going to build the wall, folks. >> reporter: president-elect is open to something lels than a wall along the boertdzer. >> a fence? >> yeah, there could be some fencing. >> reporter: some white house staffers told cnn they were surprised by trump's understanding of basic white house operation. jake? >> jim acosta, thank you so much. i want to bring in our panel now while we wait for president obama to come to the podium. we have gloria borger, s.e. cupp
and jack kingston. we'll talk about what we expect president obama to say and much more. let's talk about what's going on right now with the stephen bannon pick because i think that's alarming a lot of people. congressman, i do think that there is in washington and around the nation a willingness to give donald trump a chance. i don't know that the bannon pick is reassuring a lot of people. do you understand why? >> i understand why. and i know that there are a lot of people who have some emotions about this and i think that's natural. i'm been on the losing side and i know how these things go. if you look at the time from when steve bannon joined the campaign and all the same accusations we heard in early august, none of that happened. when you hear groups like southern poverty law group, which was denounced and discredited by the fbi in 2014 and not used at hate crime resource, they're going to jump on steve bannon and probably a dozen other appointees before it's over. >> what about the
anti-defamation league? >> when we hear from ex-spouses and say something that happened, i think it was 20 years ago in the credible, i don't think that stands up to what we've seen since steve bannon has been in this campaign. most of the angst against donald trump happened pre-bannon. and i think that when he's through picking his cabinet and all his aappointees, and it's very inclusive, i think people will breathe a sigh of relief and eventually get behind him. >> what do you think? >> it doesn't really matter when steve bannon came into the campaign. anyone who has read breitbart content has to leave with the impression that it is a safe place for bigots and anti-semite and xenophobes. and steve bannon brings that to the white house. that is deeply disconcerting. i think what donald trump did with this very first important decision is he split the baby. he tried to please establishment
republicans and the alt-right. when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. i also think it's a really unfortunate missed opportunity. you have three white guys in charge of the country, four if you include mike pence. when you add something capable like kellyanne conway, who has tirelessly steered donald trump in the right directions, and would have made a great chief of staff. so, i just think all around missed opportunity. >> i think we have to see also who gets direct access to donald trump. this white house is going to be different from any other white house we've ever covered. and my guess is everybody's going to have direct access to this president. the chief of staff is first in line. he's the gatekeeper. he is the most important staffer in the white house. but a senior counselor, as david axelrod was, as karl rove was, is the president's whisperer. that's what gives people concern.
i was told by a source who worked in the campaign, who worked alongside steve bannon. i was told, look, he is somebody who cares about winning above all else. and he did it during this campaign, even to the point where he said to donald trump, don't go to wisconsin without paul ryan. you don't to want start a fight with paul ryan right now. that coming from ban ban was something to behold because he doesn't like ryan, but they won. so, the question is, does the fight continue and does he work with congress or does he just, you know, use this as a platform through channelling through donald trump? we don't know the answer to that. >> you know, one thing that i wanted to point out -- so much of the criticism now really comes from those who don't like donald trump and they're looking for something to jump on far more than substance. when you hear a guy is a white supremacist, to me that invokes klan, short of lynching, it's destructions of african-american property. steve bannon is guilty of none of that. i would recommend an article
written by kent sternen, "vanity fair" just in august where he said on his radio show, bannon consistently pushed back against any suggestion of racism. and always was trying to keep the forum level and balanced. but i do agree with you, gloria. i mean, part of what somebody like that does, he's a james carvell, a paul begala, a david axelrod who sees things strategically. as a house member, karl rove would say to us, you have to do medicare part "d" in this form because once it gets out of control it's going to cost more money. a practical blend of politics. >> with all due respect, the conservatives who have left breitbart after steve bannon took over talk about how he made business decisions to make breitbart a site that was hospitable to that kind of warped thinking. whether it was a business decision or whether it actually reflects his ideology, this is a real concern. it's not just put forward by
liberals. it is conservatives out there who have worked with him and who left breitbart. i want to bring in cnn senior political analyst david gergen. david, we saw two separate realities emerge on twitter last night after the announcements of chief of staff and senior counselor. those republicans who praise reince priebus while also ignoring steve bannon's proximity to the oval office. speaker ryan, wisconsin governor scott walker, senator bob corker of tennessee, senator lindsey graham all praising the priebus pick. then republicans who went after bannon, such as chief strategist to republican governor john kasich, john weaver who wrote, quote, just to be clear, news media, the next president named a racist, anti-semite as the co-equal of the chief of staff. not normal. it's not just the liberals who are attacking this pick, david. >> absolutely. it's been well understood for a long time that steve bannon is a scorch the earth kind of guy,
sort of burn the house down. some would think now we have bannon plus priebus, maybe only we'll burn half of the house down. we'll have to see. i think donald trump has a history of creating rivalries in his own organization. did that at the casinos, for example. and he seems to enjoy that. seems to think he gets good results out of that. that's the way "the apprentice," intentional stirring up conflict. he seems to be drawn to that. the issue ultimately becomes, two-headed leadership system we know never survives. the question is, which one of the two is going to emerge? it would appear that priebus has the inside track to being number one, becoming the central power player that past chiefs of staff have been. but you can't count on anything in this environment. i will tell you this, if i may add this, jake, one time i've seen more than one person try to run a white house, which it worked, was the -- was the --
was the reagan administration. as you'll famously recall, there was a triumbrert who were running the place in the beginning. that eventually worked for two reasons. one was all three knew they were working with a man who had fixed beliefs, who had fixed principles, new how he thought the world worked. and, therefore, they couldn't influence him. they couldn't get into fights about that. and in this case with trump, you've got a guy -- there's going to be a fight every day about what to do between the bannon forces and priebus forces about where to go, what the strategy ought to be. it's going to be more difficult. baker eventually emerged as the number one in the reagan operation. >> if you were surer about where donald trump was going to wind up on policy, maybe this would be less of an issue. but we have seen in the first few days of president-elect trump softening positions, if you will, you know, shading
position on obamacare, on the wall, and so we're not sure where donald trump is going to wind up. and in talking to people who have been with donald trump, it's very are often the last person to talk to him is the person that he ends up agreeing with. and so there is a fear that, okay, what if it's bannon, if that's the last person? that's where the fears are coming from. because -- because bannon has a record here. >> preexisting condition. >> a preexisting condition, i was going to say, right. and so that's -- you know, that's the fear. who's going to be the last person? >> well, let me say this. i saw the interaction of dave bossie, kellyanne conway and steve bannon. i did not see any one upsmanship and they complemented each other. then you had reasons priebus and sean spicer running the rnc. it was a parallel organization. they also worked together. i mean, as we can see, it was a
winning combination. i truly don't believe that the fears that we're hearing about are founded. i understand why they're out there, but i think the pushback of it doesn't -- the substance doesn't merit it. >> just a factual matter. there's a lot of good journalism throughout the internet. certainly solid journalism i've read in breitbart. here's an example. there's a thing called a tag. when you write a story it gets tagged. let's say i write a story about libya, benghazi, tag benghazi, tag libya, tag hillary clinton, whatever. you go to the cnn.com site and search and all these stories will come up. breitbart has a tag, black crime. that's not a tag you'll find in the "new york times" or washington post or cnn or fox news. that is a tag that is appealing to a specific group. >> there is no denying it. you cannot reshape or repackage what breitbart is. let me speak on behalf of my
late friend, andrew bite bareit not what it started out as. and marketed to this group of people. i'll agree, there is some good journalism, at least some good journalists at breitbart.com. but it is inarguable. the idea that that has come over to the white house in such an influential position is very alarming. i have to -- i have to disagree with my friend, david gergen. i'm not so sure that reince has the inside track to the top job. i am worried that reince was a token to calm the establishment and that bannon is actually going to be doing more of the strategizing and more of the dirty work. donald trump over the course of the campaign was not always nice to reince priebus. he said at one point he should be ashamed of himself. so, i think actually trump and bannon are far more aligned and he trusts him more than he trusts reince and reince was put in there to please people like paul ryan. >> there's a lot of fears out
there we've been talking about, many of them theoretical. in sanctuary cities, cities throughout the country that have declared that they are not going to enforce federal immigration laws, sanctuary cities those are let theoretical. now donald trump has pledged to deport undocumented immigrants in this country, may matter most in sanctuary cities, where officials say they won't enforce immigration laws. like the windy city, where rosa flores joins me. officials say they're worried about a health crisis. rosa, explain what's going on in chicago. >> reporter: you know, you're absolutely right, jake. leaders are calling the situation after the election a public health crisis because of the number of calls into crisis hot lines and suicide hot lines. they say they have increased by 200% since the election. so, they are very, very worried. so, they break it down like
this. they say that they have found evidence that children have taken the rhetoric from the election as permission to bully immigrants, muslims, the lbgtq and other vulnerable communities. that's what medical experts here in chicago are very worried about because they are worried about the mental health effects of those communities. now, i should say that mayor rahm emanuel has come out and said chicago is a sanctuary city, it will remain a sanctuary city and a safe and secure place. >> mayors of other sanctuary cities coming out and declaring their status on these undocumented immigrants in their >> reporter: you're absolutely right. the concern is widespread. the mayor of minneapolis has also come out and said something similar, along the lines of what mayor rahm emanuel has said. in minneapolis, she said, look,
my police officers are not going to be immigration agents. they're not going to be exercising federal law, again, because they're very concerned, jake, about the safety and security of certain communities within that city. >> rosa flores in chicago. we should note, i mean, the hostility is not only one way. certainly it seems as though the bulk of these incidents seem to be aimed at minorities. we've seen two men arrested in connecticut for beating up someone that was holding a trump sign. there have been other incidents like that. it's one of the reasons why people have been calling for not just president-elect trump but maybe president obama and maybe we'll hear him say that, but also possibly hillary clinton to come out and tell people to cool it, to cool down. >> yeah. i watched the "60 minutes" interview with donald trump last night and he said, i'm going to look straight to the camera and say, stop it, to his supporters who were engaging in this kind of stuff. you have to wonder why he didn't look at the camera throughout
the campaign and speak that strongly as he did. unfortunately, it's too little too late right now, and i think what he's going to need to do is deliver a very serious speech in which he looks to the camera and he says, legal immigration is a good thing. diversity is a good thing. living next door to people who don't look like you is what makes america great. short of that, the sort of, you know, quick nod, stop it, i don't think that's going to staunch the real anxiety that's out there around the world, in lots of different communities over the things he has said and the things he's promised to do. >> we're going to continue the conversation. david, i'll come back to you. we're going to take a very quick break. we're going to squeeze in a commercial and then keep talking about the subject. again, we're waiting for president obama to come out for this news conference. stay with us. "credit karma, why are you checking your credit score?"
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we're back with special edition of "cnn newsroom." i'm jake tapper. we're minutes away from president obama coming out for a news conference, his first since the election of president-elect trump. let's begin with our panel now. david gergen, before we took a break, s.e. cupp was talking about how she thinks donald trump needs to deliver an address and talk to the nation, embracing the mrurism and diversity of this country, trying to reassure people out
there who are, frankly, scared. >> i thought s.e. had a good point. i would like to expand the scope of the speech. i think it's very, very important that the president send a very clear message that he will respect the rights and will not diminish the rights of people who are minorities, of muslims, of gays, and many others who feel frightened. i think he has to be very clear about this. jake, i think he has to do something when he announces his new attorney general selection. i think a bigger speech will come in a few days. he'll probably do the a.g. pretty quickly, but i think at that point he needs to tweet or have an announcement that's very, very clear about this. there are so many people hurting out there. i got caught up in the demonstrations on fifth avenue outside trump tower. there is so much anger, so much fear, that i do think this is unprecedented. we've never had demonstrations in the streets like this after -- the days after an election. and i think he needs to address it. it's important to set the boat
on a good course. >> congressman kingston, i know you want to talk about this as well. >> well, i just wanted to remind everybody that the only headquarters that was attacked during the campaign was a republican headquarters in north carolina. the only people who have been arrested to my knowledge, so far, 71 protesters in portland, oregon. we know in chicago, for example, that a white trump voter was beat up by african-american men. and we also know -- >> why does it matter that the -- the race of the people that beat him up? >> because that's what the topic is here. just to quote xenophobe yeah, homophob homophobe, sexism -- >> you just had to say a trump demonstrator was beat up. >> i didn't bring it up. you brought it up. far more importantly than that, is something that should be focused on is 37 people this weekend were shot in chicago. it would appear to me that there
would be so much common ground to casey, hey, here's a problem that rahm emanuel should get together with donald trump on and let's address what's happening in the failed city of chicago where there's just not the protection for the citizens thaw need. >> gloria? >> assist a leader of the consistent, you can't live in a bubble. and it's hard particularly when you're in the white house to live outside that bubble and to see what's going on. richard nixon couldn't see what was going on outside his bubble. and i think that it would be wise, and i'm sure we'll hear it from the president today, we got the message from both president obama and donald trump when they met that there was something larger at stake called the country. and i think it would be wise for donald trump to address this head-on. not just in a word, as s.e. said, but in a way that tells the country, that tells the country, i care about every single person living in this country. >> david, go ahead.
>> i just want to say to the congressman, look, you can talk about these individual instances. we just had president-elect go on television and say he wants to deport 2 million to 3 million people here in the future. a lot of families aren't sure what that means, if their loved ones are going to be ripped away from them. you have a lot of people on health care who do not know where their health care system is going on, if they can count on it. you have had outbreaks of anti-semitism on social media that have made jews in this country very, very was in. there are big-picture things that are affecting the way people live in this country, how safe they feel, how secure they feel. and if you've got a population, many of them are frightened. i believe it's the president's responsibility to address that. >> well, first of all, he's not in a bubble. he hasn't even moved into the white house yet, so -- >> i didn't say he was in a bubble. >> you can still be in a bubble. >> as the guy who traveled the country vigorously, i think if there was any candidate in the bubble, it certainly wasn't donald trump. let me say very importantly,
we're in agreement. arrest people who are breaking the law. 71 people were arrested in portland for breaking the law. i think that's very important. you know, when we hear that i'm citing individual instances, it's all over the country. i think that the left and the right could certainly come together and clamp down on hate crimes. there's no discussion here. >> the congressman is touting the arrest of these protesters in oregon as if it proves your point. it doesn't. that's how divisive donald trump is as a person. and regardless of why, something needs to be done to address this unrest. and donald trump saying, stop it, i think, is pretty insufficient. >> you know, remember, he has said stop it, haven't herd it from hillary clinton, haven't heard it from the democratic leadership, haven't heard it from president obama. we may see it in a few minutes and i'm looking forward to it, but i think we could all agree when people break the law, the law should be enacted. they should be arrested or whatever --
>> i did hear it from president obama. >> i'm curious, i'm curious, congressman, about the people arrested for protesting, these 71 you cite. if there's a latino undocumented person in that group who's arrested for protesting, do you think that person should be deported? >> i think the law should apply, absolutely. whatever it is. are you saying -- >> so, that person should be deported? >> if you're -- >> you should enforce -- >> of course you should enforce the law. that's not a debate. i want to say this, i'm kind of glad you brought it up because that's what this election sort of boiled down to is are we a nation of law? are we a nation of relative laws that depends on the mayor of a city? if he disagrees with something that's the law or the constitution, doesn't have to enforce it. i think that's why so many people across america felt alienated that their government has let them down. >> you know, this election in many ways, as we've all talked about for months and months was
about fear. for hillary clinton it was about fear of donald trump. and for donald trump it was about fear of hillary clinton and what the democrats were about to do to you. i think now when you are about to become president of the united states, you can't stoke fear. you have to calm it and say, okay, we had the election, i understand why you're afraid. and here is why you should not be. >> do you think donald trump, president-elect trump, is stoking fear? >> well, i think he's -- he's not stoking -- he's not calming it down. this is what i'm saying. i think that he is not calming it down, which is what he aut to do. >> let me play devil's add co-cat. why is it obligation as opposed to the sitting president? >> i think it's both. what i was saying before, when they met last week, i think they took the first step because they met last week. it was a cordial session. they seemed to get along. the president spoke his peace, clearly, about obamacare and other issues, and donald trump
said he respected him and liked him and listened to him and that for the sake of the country, these two might meet again. that was a great thing. so, i think that was the first step. i think we might hear it from president obama and it would be great to hear it from the president-elect. >> we are waiting for president obama, who will come out any second now and take questions from reporters. his first news conference since the election of president-elect donald trump. we should also report that the kremlin just announced that vladimir putin spoke by telephone with president-elect trump today. the two men spoke, according to the kremlin, in favor of working to improve and normalize relations between the two countries. here is president obama right now. >> hello, everybody. in a couple hours i'll be departing on my final foreign trip as president. and while we're abroad, i'll have a chance to take a few of your questions, but i figured, why wait. i know there's a lot of domestic
issues that people are thinking about, so i wanted to see if i could clear up some of the underbrush so that when we're overseas and people are asking about foreign policy questions, people don't feel obliged to tack on three other questions to them. let me -- i know you still will, yes. that i'm aware, but i'm trying something out here. first of all, let mention three brief topics. first of all, as i discussed with the president-elect on thursday, my team stands ready to accelerate in the next steps that are required to ensure a smooth transition. and we are going to be staying in touch as we travel. i remember what it was like when i came in eight years ago. it is a big challenge. this office is bigger than any one person, and that's why ensuring a smooth transition is so important. it's not something that the constitution explicitly requires, but it is one of those
norms that are vital to a functioning democracy. similar to norms of civility and tolerance and a commitment to reason and facts and analysis. it's part of what makes this country work. and as long as i'm president, we are going to uphold those norms and cherish and uphold those ideals. as i've told my staff, we should be very proud that their work has already ensured that when we turn over the keys, the car's in pretty good shape. we are indisputably in a stronger position today than we were when i came in eight years ago. jobs have been growing for 73 straight months, incomes are rising, poverty is falling, the uninsured rate is the lowest on record, carbon emissions have come down without impinging on our growth, and so my instructions to my team are that we run through the tape. we make sure that we finish what
we started, that we don't let up in these last couple of months because my goal is on january 21st america is in the strongest position possible and, hopefully, there's an opportunity for the next president to build on that. number two, our work has also helped to stabilize the global economy. and because there is one president at a time, i'll spend this week reinforcing america's support for the approaches we've taken to promote economic growth and global security on a range of issues. i look forward to my first visit in greece, and then in germany i'll visit with chancellor merkel, who's probably been my closest international partner these past eight years. i'll also signal our solidarity with our closest allies and express our support for a strong, integrated and united europe. it's essential will our national security and it's essential to global stability. that's why the transatlantic
alliance and the nato alliance have endured for decades under democratic and republican administrations. finally in peru i'll meet with leaders of country that have been the focus of foreign policy in our rebalance of the asia-pacific. this is a time of great change in the world, but america's always been a pillar of strength and a beacon of hope to peoples around the globe. and that's what it must continue to be. finally, on a personal note, michelle and i want to offer our deepest condolences to gwen ifill's family and all of you, her colleagues, on her passing. gwen was a friend of ours. she was an extraordinary journalist. she always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work. i always appreciated gwen's reporting, even when i was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews.
whether she reported from a convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator's table or at the anchor's deck, she not only informed today's citizens but she also inspired tomorrow's journalists. she was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, tenacity and intellect and for whom she blazed a trail as one-half of the first all-female anchor team on network news. so, gwen did her country a great service. michelle and i join her family and her colleagues and everybody else who loved her in remembering her fondly today. so, with that i'm going to take some questions. and because josh earnest has some pull around here, he just happened to put at the top of the list colleen nelson of the "wall street journal." my understanding is, colleen, this is wrapping up your stint here and you're going to kansas
city. >> yes. >> josh just happens to be from kansas city, so i didn't know if there was any coincidence there, but we wish you the best of luck in your new endeavors. [ inaudible ] >> there you go. >> reporter: you're about to embark on your final foreign trip. what will you say to other foreign leaders about your successor? should they be worried about the future of u.s. foreign policy? secondly, as democrats scramble to regroup after a pretty shocking upset, what is your advice about where the party goes now and who should lead your party? >> one of the great things about the united states is that when it comes to world affairs, the president, obviously, is the leader of the executive branch, the commander in chief, the
spokesperson for the nation. but the influence and the work we have is the result not just of the president. it is the results of countless interactions and arrangements and relationships between our military and other militaries and our diplomats and other diplomats, and intelligence officers and development workers. and there is enormous continuity beneath the day-to-day news that makes us that indispensable nation when it comes to maintaining order and promoting prosperity around the world. that will continue. in my conversation with the president-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our strategic relationships. so, one of the messages i will
be able to deliver is his commitment to nato and the trans-atlantic alliance. i think that's one of the most important functions i can serve at this stage during this trip s to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to america's commitment to maintaining a strong and robust nato relationship and a recognition that those alliances aren't just good for europe, they're good for the united states. and they're vital for the world. with respect to the democratic party, look, as i said in the rose garden right after the election, when your team loses, everybody gets deflated and it's hard and it's challenging. and so i think it's a healthy thing for the democratic party to go through some reflection. you know, i think it's important for me not to be big-footing
that consideration. i think we want to see new voices and new ideas emerge. that's part of the reason why, i think, term limits are a really useful thing. i think the democrats should not waiver on our core beliefs and principles. the belief that we should have an economy that works for everybody, not just a few. the belief that america at its best is inclusive and not exclusive. that we insist on the dignity and god-given potential and worth of every child, regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or what zip code they were born in. that we are committed to a world
in which we keep america safe but we recognize that our power doesn't just flow from our extraordinary military, it also flows from the strength of our ideals and our principles and our values. so there's going to be a core set of values that shouldn't be up for debate. should be our north star. but how we organize politically, i think, is something that we should spend some time thinking about. i believe that we have better ideas, but i also believe that good ideas don't matter if people don't hear them. and one of the issues the democrats have to be clear on is that given population distribution across the country, we have to compete everywhere. we have to show up everywhere.
we have to work at at grassroots level. something that's been a running thread in my career. you know, i won iowa not because the demographics dictated that i would win iowa. it was because i spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and vfw hall, and there were some counties where i might have lost, but maybe i lost by 20 points instead of 50 points. there's some counties maybe i won that people didn't expect because people had a chance to see and listen to you and get a sense of who you stood for and who you were fighting for. and the challenge for a national party is how do you dig in there and create those kinds of structures so that people have a
sense of what it is that you stand for. and that increasingly is difficult to do just through a national press strategy. it's increasingly difficult to do because of the splintering of the press. and, so, i think the discussions that have been taking place about how do you build more grassroots organizing, how do you build up state parties and local parties and school board elections you're paying attention to and state rep races and city council races, that l all, i think, will contribute to stronger outcomes in the future. and i'm optimistic that will happen. for democrats who are feeling completely discouraged, i've been trying to remind them, everybody remembers my boston
speech in 2004. they may not remember me showing up here in 2005 when john kerry had lost a close election, tom daschle, the leader of the senate, had been beaten in an upset, ken salazar and i were the only two democrats that won nationally. republicans controlled the senate and the house. and two years later, democrats were winning back congress and four years later i was president of the united states. things change pretty rapidly. but it does -- they don't change inevitably. they change because you work for it. nobody said democracy's supposed to be easy. it's hard. and in a big country like this, it probably should be hard. mark. >> reporter: thank you, sir. >> good to see you. >> reporter: thank you. good to see you. mr. president, what can you tell
us about the learning curve on becoming president. can you tell us how long it took you before you were fully at ease in the job, if that ever happens, and did you discuss this matter with president-elect trump? >> about a week ago i started feeling pretty good. no. look, the -- i think the learning curve always continues. this is a remarkable job. it is like no other job on earth. and it is a constant flow of information and challenges and issues. that is truer now than it has ever been, partly because of the nature of information and the inner connection between regions of the world. you know, if you were president
50 years ago, the tragedy in syria might not even penetrate what the american people were thinking about on a day-to-day basis. there was a time when, i had a financial crisis in southeast asia somewhere, it had no impact on our markets. today it does. so the amount of information, the amount of incoming that any administration has to deal with today and respond to much more rapidly than ever before, that makes it different. i was watching a documentary that -- during the bay of pigs crisis. jfk had about two weeks before anybody reported on it. imagine that. i think it's fair to say that if something like that happens
under a current president, they got it figured out within about an hour what the response is. these are the kinds of points that i shared with the president-ele president-elect. it was a freeflowing and, i think, useful conversation. i hope it was. i tried to be as honest as i could about the things, i think, any president coming in needs to think about. and probably the most important point that i made was that how you staff, particularly your chief of staff, your national security adviser, your white house counsel, how you set up a process and a system to surface information, generate options for a president understanding that ultimately the president is going to be the final decision maker, that that's something that has to be attended to right
away. i have been blessed by having -- and i admittedly am biased -- some of the smartest, hardest working good people in my administration that i think any president has ever had. and as a consequence of that team, i've been able to make good decisions. and if you don't have that around you, then you'll get swamped. so i hope that he appreciated that advice. what i also discussed was the fact that i had been encouraged by his statements on election night about the need for unity and his interest in being the president for all people, and that how he staffs, the first steps he takes, the first impressions he makes, the reset
that can happen after an election, all those things are important and should be thought about. and i think it's important to give him the room and the space to do that. it takes time to put that together. but i emphasized to him that, look, in an election like this that was so hotly contested and so divided, gestures matter, and how he reaches out to groups that may not have supported him, how he signals his interest in their issues or concerns, i think those are the kinds of things that can set a tone that will help move things forward once he's actually taken office. >> how long did it take before you were at ease in the job? >> well, i really didn't have time to worry about being at
ease, because you recall we were losing about 800,000 jobs a month. the good news is that in some ways my experience is atypical. it's hard to find analogous situations. by the time fdr came into office, the depression had been going on for a couple years. we were in the midst of a freefall. the financial system was locking up. the auto industry was about to go belly up. the housing market had entirely collapsed. so one of the advantages that i had was that i was too busy to worry about acclimated i was feeling in the job. we just had to make a bunch of decisions. in this situation, we're turning over a country that has challeng challenges, has problems, and obviously there are people out there feeling deeply
disaffected. otherwise we wouldn't have had the results we had in the election. on the other hand, if you look at the basic indicators of where the country is right now, the unemployment rate is as low as it's been in eight, nine years. incomes and wages have both gone up over the last year faster than they have in a decade or two. we've got historically low uninsured rates. the financial systems are stable. the stock market is hovering around its all-time high and 401ks have been restored. the housing market has recovered. we have challenges internationally, but our most immediate challenge with respect to isil, we're seeing significant progress in iraq and
mosul is now increasingly being retain by iraqi security forces supported by us. our alliances are in strong shape. the progress we've made with respect to carbon emissions has been greater than any country on earth. and gas is $2 a gallon. so he will have time and space, i think, to make judicious decisions. the incoming administration doesn't have to put out a huge number of fires. they may want to take the country in a significantly different direction, but they have time to consider what exactly they want to achieve, and that's a testament to the
tremendous work my team has doneover the last eight years. i'm very proud of them for it. pita jones. >> you said more than once you did not believe donald trump would ever be elected president and that you thought he was unfit for office. now that you've spent time with him, sitting down with him for an hour and a half in the oval office, do you now think the president-elect is qualified to be president? if i can do a combined question, what do you think about people who are concerned by some of the policies or sentiments either expressed by president-elect trump himself or his supporters that may be offensive to others, specifically what i'm talking about steve bannon said, who will have a prominent place in
the white house as his chief adviser? what kind of message does that send to the world? >> without copping out, it would not be appropriate for every decision the president-elect starts making. if i want to be consistent with the notion we're going to facilitate a smooth transition. look, the people have spoken. donald trump will be the next president, the 45th president of the united states. and it will be up to him to set up a team that he thinks will serve him well and reflect his polici policies. and those who didn't vote for him have to recognize that that's how democracy works. that's how this system operates. when i won, there were a number of people who didn't like me and didn't like what i stood for.
and i think that whenever you've got an incoming president, especially on the other side, it takes a while for people to reconcile themselves with that new reality. hopefully it's a reminder that elections matter and voting counts. and so i don't know how many times we have to relearn this lesson, because we ended up having 43% of the country not voting who were eligible to vote, but it makes a difference. so given that president-elect trump is now trying to balance what he said in the campaign and the commitments he made to his
supporters with working with those who disagreed with him and members of congress and reaching out to constituencies that didn't vote for him, i think it's important for us to let him make his decisions, and i think the american people will judge over the course of the next couple years whether they like what they see, and whether these are the kinds of policies and this is the direction that they want to see the country going. and my role is to make sure that when i hand off this white house, that it is in the best possible shape and i've been as helpful as i can for him in going forward and build