President Barack Obama delivered his final speech Tuesday, urging Americans to bridge their differences and continue believing in the great experiment of democracy.
The following day, President-elect Donald Trump went before the press and attacked media outlets for publishing “crap” and belittled his Democratic critics.
The two public appearances underscored the stark differences between the two men, not only oratorically but also in the message they most emphasize and how they appeal to constituents. Obama rose on a wave of hope and optimism, while Trump won by essentially telling people things were so bad they had nothing to lose by giving him a shot.
Wednesday’s news conference was Trump’s first since he won the election. At times, it felt like the campaign was still going on as he took a shot at his onetime opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton. Some other highlights from the two appearances:
OBAMA: “I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.”
TRUMP: “Now, I don’t know that I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do. But there’s a good chance I won’t. And if I don’t, do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does anybody in this room really believe that? Give me a break.”
OBAMA: “You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.”
TRUMP: “But as president, I could run the Trump organization, great, great company. And I could run the company ― the country. I’d do a very good job, but I don’t want to do that.”
OBAMA: “For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. … And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.”
TRUMP: “As far as BuzzFeed, which is a failing pile of garbage, writing it, I think they’re going to suffer the consequences. They already are. … You [CNN] are fake news.”
OBAMA: “America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter into public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are seen not just as misguided but as malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others, when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.”
TRUMP: “I think it was disgraceful ― disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that ― and I say that, and that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did so.”
OBAMA: “In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter ― then we’re going to keep talking past each other, and we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible.”
TRUMP: “We talk about the hacking and hacking’s bad and it shouldn’t be done. But look at the things that were hacked. Look at what was learned from the hacking. That Hillary Clinton got the questions to the debate and didn’t report it? That’s a horrible thing. That’s a horrible thing.”
OBAMA [end of speech]: “I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon, a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, we can.”
TRUMP [end of news conference]: “[T]hese papers are all just a piece of the many, many companies that are being put into trust to be run by my two sons that I hope at the end of eight years, I’ll come back and say, ‘Oh, you did a good job.’ Otherwise, if they do a bad job, I’ll say, ‘You’re fired.’” [Amanda Terkel]