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Donald Trump was a ‘change candidate’, don’t underestimate him: Barack Obama

Reflecting on the election campaign, the US President said Trump was clearly able to tap into a lot of grievances.

By: PTI | Washington | Updated: January 16, 2017 4:55 pm
Barack Obama, Obama, President Obama, Donald Trump, Trump. US President-elect, Trump Obama, Trump change candidate, US elections, US news, world news, latest news, indian express Donald Trump and Barack Obama.

US President Barack Obama has said Donald Trump was a “change candidate” and cautioned people against underestimating the President-elect, even as he acknowledged that it has been an “unusual” transition. “He was a change candidate,” Obama told CBS News in his final interview as the President of the United States. Asked if anyone can change Washington, Obama said, “I think the American people can change Washington.”

But I think that it is not going to change, because somebody from high directs that change. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, are motivated by all kinds of issues,” the 55-year-old outgoing President said.

WATCH VIDEO | Barack Obama Cautions People Against Underestimating US President-Elect Donald Trump

“They’re sincerely interested in the economy, in terrorism, in social issues. But the one overriding thing they’re interested in is getting re-elected. And if they think that it’s harder for them to get re-elected by cooperating with each other, then they won’t cooperate,” Obama said.

Reflecting on the election campaign, the US President said Trump was clearly able to tap into a lot of grievances.

“And he has a talent for making a connection with his supporters that overrode some of the traditional benchmarks of how you’d run a campaign or conduct yourself as a presidential candidate,” Obama said of the billionaire-turned-politician, who will be sworn-in on January 20.

“What will be interesting to see is how that plays out during the course of his presidency. We are moving into an era where a lot of people get their information through tweets and sound bites and some headline that comes over their phone,” he said, in an apparent reference to the series of tweets that Trump writes everyday, which very often are the main source of news.

“And I think that there’s a power in that. There’s also a danger, what generates a headline or stirs up a controversy and gets attention isn’t the same as the process required to actually solve the problem,” Obama noted.

Obama also cautioned political pundits and others who are critical of Trump that they should not underestimate him.

“First of all, I think everybody has to acknowledge don’t underestimate the guy, because he’s going to be 45th president of the United States,” he said.

“The one thing I’ve said to him directly, and I would advise my Republican friends in Congress and supporters around the country, is just make sure that, as we go forward certain norms, certain institutional traditions don’t get eroded, because there’s a reason they’re in place,” he said.

Responding to a question, Obama acknowledged that this is an “unusual” transition.

Describing Trump as an unconventional candidate, Obama said he does not think there is anybody who has run a campaign like this successfully in modern history.

“Not that I can think of. And, as a consequence because he didn’t have the support of many of the establishment in his own party, because he ran sort of an improvisational campaign –,” he said.

However, Obama said he does not think that Trump can run an improvisational presidency.

“I don’t think so. And so now he’s (Trump) in the process of building up an organisation. And well, we’ll have to see how that works. And it’ll be a test, I think, for him and the people that he’s designated to be able to execute on his vision,” Obama said.

He said over the course of first two years of his administration, he was so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that they stopped paying attention to the fact that, leadership is not just legislation, that it is a matter of persuading people and giving them confidence, and bringing them together and setting a tone.

“For the next six years, there would be legislative gridlock, and by 2016, the people who had looked to Obama for change were looking somewhere else,” Obama said.

“In the first two years, when I had a strong majority in the House and the Senate, we were as productive as any administration has been since the ’60s. I mean, we got a lot done. And so you can get a lot of stuff done through this system. But to sustain a governing majority, that requires an ability for Republicans and Democrats to find some common ground,” he said.

“And right now, the structure of the system is such where it makes it really hard for people to work together. And we mentioned, an example earlier, the Supreme Court nominations. I mean, the fact that Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republicans, was able to just stop a nomination almost a year before the next election and really not pay a political price for it, that’s a sign that the incentives for politicians in this town to be so sharply partisan have gotten so outta hand that we’re weakening ourselves,” he added.

Responding to a question on Trump picking up fight with the intelligence community, Obama said one is not going to be able to make good decisions without building some relationship of trust with the intelligence community.

Asked if he sees that happening, Obama said, “Not yet, but, you know, again, he hasn’t gotten sworn into office yet.”

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  1. R
    Rajan
    Jan 16, 2017 at 7:01 am
    Not sure how "looking inward" for growth by Trump will shape the future of US and the world ? Clearly he is impatient. Any action by him will shake the world. Hope it is for good of the world or atleast India is least affected.
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    1. R
      Rajat
      Jan 16, 2017 at 7:55 am
      Too little too late.
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      1. B
        Balasubramanya
        Jan 16, 2017 at 8:00 am
        This is at least Barak Obama's sincere opinion though it is late. Second stint of Obama has ped without any breakthrough and w world is expecting some bold action from Trump particularly against Islamic terrorism which is spreading slowly like cancer.
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        1. Raghav Uchil
          Jan 16, 2017 at 6:19 am
          Obama is absolutely right about Donald Trump. The BRITEXIT and Donald Trump's big time win is the result of Peoples fear about surging Fandamentalism of Islam and support for ISIS. They dont want usual Run of the mill kind of Politicians to come to power hence US people booted out Hillary Clinton and opted for Trump.
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          1. V
            vivekananda swamy
            Jan 16, 2017 at 7:54 am
            Sister Rani’s murderer now says, “Christians are India’s hope”lt;br/gt;Nirmala Carvalholt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Samandar Singh killed a nun in 1995. After that, he converted to Christianity and today he is a different man. He helps Tribals and for him Sister Rani’s family has become his own. Sadly, he agrees that a climate of anti-Christian hatred is currently sweeping across India. He urges his compatriots to see the truth in the presence of missionaries in the country.lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Udaya Nagar (AsiaNews) – “I accept full responsibility for my heinous murder of Sr Rani Maria. I cannot say that I was instigated, because my own hands stabbed her repeatedly and for this I will regret my actions till the day I die,” Samandar Singh told AsiaNews. He is the man who on 25 February 1995 stabbed to death Sister Rani Maria. The diocese of Indore, where she worked, has ended the diocesan leg of the inquiry into her death. Now the Vatican will have to decide whether she died a martyr of the faith or not.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Whatever the outcome of that will be, Sister Rani Maria has already accomplished a miracle. Her in has repented and has become a member of her family. “In my own small way,” he said, “I try to follow her example, helping those who are less fortunate than me, like Tribal Christians and all those who are marginalised.”lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;After his arrest in connection with the nun’s murder, he was tried and sentenced to prison, where he spent 11 years. During that time, his wife divorced him and his first son died.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Behind prison walls, he began plotting how he could take revenge against the man who pushed him to kill the nun. But he also received a visit from another nun, Sister Selmi Paul, who happened to be the murdered nun’s own sister. She hugged him and called him brother. He was profoundly touched by it, so much so that from this embrace his journey of repentance began. He gave up plans for revenge and accepted the sorrow caused by the murder.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Eventually, Samandar war released because of a peion signed by Sister Rani’s family, the provincial of the Clarist congregation and the bishop of Indore.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;When his release was slow in coming, a delegation went to see the local governor to plead his case. “Only you Christians can truly forgive,” the latter said. “You are a great example. Go, I shall do all I can to get him released.”lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Once he was free again, Samandar began to treat Sister Rani’s family as his own. “I regularly visit her tomb,” he said. “For me, it is like a sanctuary of peace and strength.”lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;“I want everyone to know that Christians work to make India great. The missionaries give us hope through their service, which is to make us a strong and independent people.”lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;He does realise though that India’s rightwing hate Christians. “Before they drove me to kill, I heard so many hate-filled lies about the missionaries and Christians. They used to tell me that Christians converted people through tricks and that their work with the poor was only for show. Now however I can say without a doubt that the missionaries do nothing but work and help the poor and the marginalised. They have not secret design, other than serve God.”
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