Bush, Obama to Meet Monday at White House

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 7, 2008

President Bush will meet with President-elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office on Monday to discuss the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other challenges the new administration will face in January, officials said yesterday.

First lady Laura Bush also will give Michelle Obama a tour of the White House residence that afternoon, Bush administration officials said.

The event will mark the first meeting between the departing and incoming presidents since Obama was elected Tuesday, and it underscores how rapidly the complex transition process is unfolding in a time of war and financial crisis. Obama has scheduled his first post-election news conference in Chicago for today.

"Michelle and I look forward to meeting with President Bush and the First Lady on Monday to begin the process of a smooth, effective transition," Obama said in a statement. "I thank him for reaching out in the spirit of bipartisanship that will be required to meet the many challenges we face as a nation."

Bush, after meeting with his Cabinet to discuss the handover yesterday morning, told a group of White House staffers on the South Lawn, "All of us must ensure that the next president and his team can hit the ground running." He also warned that enemies could seek to issue threats or mount attacks during the transition.

"We face economic challenges that will not pause to let a new president settle in," Bush said. "This will also be America's first wartime presidential transition in four decades. We're in a struggle against violent extremists determined to attack us, and they would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change."

No recent president-elect from an opposing party has been received at the White House so soon after an election, with Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter all taking two weeks or more to visit. The 2000 transition was unique because of the contested election between Bush and Al Gore, who did not concede the race until Dec. 13 of that year. Bush met with Clinton in the Oval Office six days later.

Bush and his aides say they have assembled an expansive transition operation that includes a standing committee of top officials, early security clearances for Obama and his senior aides, and plans for regular briefings. Yesterday, Obama had his first daily intelligence briefing, which is given to the president each day, officials said.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said that the Obamas' daughters, Malia and Sasha, will not take part in the visit but that "we very much look forward to meeting them."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company