Depending on when Election Day and Inauguration fall, a president has from 72 to 75 days for transition. As of Monday, Donald J. Trump has 66.
In this compressed period, President-elect Trump must set up a new government and hire about 4,000 people to run it. The transition will bring plenty of other demands: Phone calls to thank donors, congratulatory phone calls from foreign leaders, members of Congress and other supporters. Daily intelligence briefings. Formal political functions. Personnel announcements. Communications with foreign dignitaries. Rest and relaxation.
Modern presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama have allocated their time differently to these matters, reflecting their personal styles and priorities.
Reagan, for example, retreated to California for much of his transition, splitting his time between Los Angeles and his ranch near Santa Barbara. He held few press conferences. Bill Clinton did intensive public outreach through summits.
These details come from the Presidential Transition Guide produced by the non-partisan Partnership for Public Service, which began meeting over the summer with the Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns to prepare for a transfer of power when Obama leaves office.
Obama took an extended vacation to Hawaii and stayed away from Washington until his inauguration, except for an initial White House meeting. George W. Bush, whose official transition was delayed by the recount and litigation of his race with Al Gore, flew members of Congress and other leaders to his Texas ranch for meetings.
Clinton made speeches and spoke to the media during his transition. Bush tended toward photo-ops, while Obama relied on web videos to announce policy.
And of the four presidents, Obama took the most vacation time during his transition, while Reagan had the most “weekend and personal time,” the transition guide says.
How will Trump do it? Judging by the last week, he may spend most of his time at Trump Tower in Manhattan, where he has just formalized his transition team and is developing a short list for cabinet secretaries.
Lower-level political appointments are being handed by the transition team at the Washington headquarters of the General Services Administration, 1800 F Street.
Trump has not said publicly how often he plans to come to Washington or if he will meet with prospective nominees at one of his golf courses in Florida and New Jersey or at his townhouse apartment in Manhattan. He may take some days off at one of these golf courses too.
Our colleague Marc Fisher, co-author with Michael Kranish of Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money and Power, gave us some clues to how Trump might spend his time and how he might start the business of governing.
Trump mainly works. He rarely sleeps, as little as two-to-four hours a night. He watches enormous amounts of television all through the night. He’s a homebody who rarely leaves Trump Tower or Mar-A-Lago, his Florida retreat. He does occasionally golf with business associates or other celebrities, but has done little of that over the course of the campaign. He spends a lot of time on the phone, and surely is doing a vast amount of that.
He could, in keeping with his pattern on the campaign trail, do rally-style events before his inauguration.
He’s not likely to spend a lot of time in meetings.
There’s also the question of whether Trump extends an olive branch to Hillary Clinton, and whether she accepts.
The president-elect traditionally meets with his defeated opponent to show “goodwill toward political adversaries,” the guide says, and look for areas of common ground.
This happened for Obama and rival Sen. John McCain after Obama’s victory in 2008, about two weeks after the election.
McCain flew to the Obama transition office in Chicago.Following the meeting, the men issued a joint statement:
“We hope to work together in the days and months ahead on critical challenges like solving our financial crisis, creating a new energy economy, and protecting our nation’s security.”