President Bush and President-elect Obama held an initial meeting for about an hour Monday afternoon in the Oval Office, according to White House officials. After the meeting, Obama headed to the White House residence, where first lady Laura Bush had given Michelle Obama a tour. The Obamas left the White House before 4 p.m. Neither Obama nor Bush spoke to the press.
The Obamas were warmly greeted by the Bushes at the White House about 10 minutes before their scheduled 2 p.m. arrival. The Oval Office session, scheduled to begin at 2:20, began just after the Obamas arrived and ended at about 3 p.m. There were no details on the meeting immediately available. It was Obamas first visit ever to the Oval Office.
Obama is scheduled to depart Washington, D.C., and return to Chicago late this afternoon. He has no plans to travel to Capitol Hill or meet with lawmakers who may be in town, an Obama aide said this afternoon. With the Obamas at the White House were John Podesta, who is leading Obamas transition effort, and Robert Gibbs, who is expected to become White House press secretary.
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino earlier today was mostly silent on what Bush and Obama would discuss, saying the meeting would be private. But she noted Bush would want to talk about handing off control of the economy and responsibility for protecting the country.
The transition of power, this time around, is so critically important, one, in regards to the economy, and two, in regards to … the threat of attack that we currently live under, Perino said.
Perino indicated that Bush and Obama were personally cooperating well in the transfer of power. Id say the president and the president-elect have both set a tone of cooperation, one of a spirit of partnership, to be able to move forward, she said.