Obama Responds to Trump Victory: "We're All on the Same Team"

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, delivers a statement from the Rose Garden in the White House the day after Donald Trump was elected the next U.S. president, in Washington, November 9. Obama said he is rooting for Trump's success. Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS

"We're all on the same team," President Barack Obama reminded Americans less than 24-hours after one of the most stunning presidential election results in modern history—and one that could result in many of the gains he made over his eight years in the White House being erased.

As the country began to absorb the election of Donald Trump—the divisive billionaire real estate mogul who in the past has questioned Obama's eligibility to be president—the outgoing president urged calm and reflection as he spoke in the Rose Garden with Vice President Joe Biden by his side.

Obama said he spoke with President-elect Trump early Wednesday morning, and invited him to meet at the White House Thursday to discuss the transition, underscoring that he wanted to follow the example set by Republican President George W. Bush's team, who led a professional handover of power after Obama won his own groundbreaking election in 2008.

"We are all now rooting for [Trump's] success in uniting and leading this country," Obama said. "The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy."

Obama campaigned hard for Democrat Hillary Clinton, crisscrossing some of the most competitive battleground territory to encourage the coalition that elected him twice to turn out for his chosen successor while delivering an unstinting critique of Republican nominee Trump as unfit and unqualified for the presidency. Parts of Obama's coalition did rally around Clinton, but not enough of it—particularly among blue-collar communities across the Midwest. Obama said he "could not be prouder" of Clinton and reiterated her remarks in New York to supporters less than an hour earlier Wednesday, when she urged them to continue fighting for what they believe in.

Trump's election is being read as a repudiation not just of Clinton but also of Obama, and there's no doubt it has stung Obama and his White House deeply. Yet he displayed little disappoinment on Wednesday.

"A lot of our fellow Americans are exultant today, a lot of Americans are less so. But that's the nature of campaigns, that's the nature of democracy," Obama observed, his tone steady and even lighthearted at points, as when he ribbed Biden over election losses. "That's the way politics works sometimes. We try to persuade people that we're right. And then people vote. And then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena."

"This is an intramural scrimmage," the president continued. "We're not Democrats first, we're not Republians first. We're Americans first, patriots first. That's what I heard in Mr Trump's remarks last night, that's what I heard when I spoke to him. And I was heartened by that."