Less than one week after his historic victory, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama heads to Washington on Monday to learn firsthand from President George W. Bush about the challenges that await him on January 20.
Obama, 47, who swept to office after two years of campaigning on a theme of change — particularly from Bush’s economic and foreign policies — will put politics aside as he visits the White House.
Accompanied by his wife Michelle, Obama will visit for about 90 minutes. The Obamas will look around the house that will become their home, and Bush and the president-elect will then sit down to discuss issues including the transition of power, the ailing U.S. economy and the war in Iraq.
Bush, whose sagging popularity helped propel Obama and the Democrats to a resounding victory in last week’s presidential election, has said he will do all he can to help Obama in his transition.
“Ensuring that this transition is seamless is a top priority for the rest of my time in office,” Bush said on Saturday in his weekly radio address.
“In the coming weeks, we will ask administration officials to brief the Obama team on major ongoing policy issues, ranging from the financial markets to the war in Iraq.”
Bush has said he would keep Obama informed on important decisions he makes over the next two months, particularly on issues related to the struggling economy and the war in Iraq.
While Obama has made it clear that he is aware that Bush is still the president until January 20, he is working on quickly forming a government and preparing policies so he can “hit the ground running” when he takes office.
TOURING THE WHITE HOUSE
Bush has hailed the victory by Obama — the son of a black Kenyan father and white American mother — as a “dream fulfilled” for civil rights.
“It will be a stirring sight to watch President Obama, his wife Michelle, and their beautiful girls step through the doors of the White House,” Bush said the morning after the election.
The Obamas have a 2:00 p.m. EST appointment with Bush and first lady Laura Bush.
Incoming presidents typically visit the White House to get acquainted with their future home and be briefed by the current president and first lady. But Obama’s trip is unusually early in the transition process, due in part to the severity of the economic crisis. It is also the first transition of power during wartime in decades.
Obama said he looked forward to working with Bush on the process.
“This speaks to a fundamental recognition that here in America we can compete vigorously in elections and challenge each other’s ideas, yet come together in service of a common purpose once the voting is done,” Obama said on Saturday in his radio address. “And that is particularly important at a moment when we face the most serious challenges of our lifetime.”