Obama: Trump Should Recognize, Correct 'Certain Elements of His Temperament'

WASHINGTON -- President Obama said he hopes that Donald Trump works on his temperament in the Oval Office "because when you're a candidate and you say something that is inaccurate or controversial, it has less impact than it does when you're president of the United States."

"I think what will happen with the president-elect is there are going to be certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well unless he recognizes them and corrects them," Obama told reporters today in the White House briefing room. "...Everybody around the world's paying attention. Markets move. National security issues require a level of precision in order to make sure that you don't make mistakes. And I think he recognizes that this is different, and so do the American people."

Obama faced reporters to "clear out some of the underbrush" about the presidential election before heading overseas on his last foreign trip as president to Athens, Berlin and Lima, Peru.

Amid a Wall Street Journal report that Trump "seemed surprised by the scope" of the president's job in their 90-minute meeting last week and that Trump's aides were "unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term," Obama said his team "stands ready to accelerate in the next steps that are required to ensure a smooth transition and we are going to be staying in touch as we travel."

"I remember what it was like when I came in eight years ago. It is a big challenge," he said when asked about the WSJ report. "This office is bigger than any one person and that's why ensuring a smooth transition is so important. It's not something that the constitution explicitly requires but it is one of those norms that are vital to a functioning democracy, similar to norms of civility and tolerance and a commitment to reason and facts and analysis."

Of Hillary Clinton's loss, Obama said "it's a healthy thing for the Democratic Party to go through some reflection" but "it's important for me not to be big-footing that conversation."

"I believe that we have better ideas. But I also believe that good ideas don't matter if people don't hear them. And one of the issues the Democrats have to be clear on is the given population distribution across the country. We have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere. We have to work at a grassroots level, something that's been a running thread in my career," he said.

"I won Iowa not because the demographics dictated that I would win Iowa. It was because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and VFW Hall, and there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points. There's some counties maybe I won, that people didn't expect, because people had a chance to see you and listen to you and get a sense of who you stood for and who you were fighting for."

Obama said he discussed with Trump the need to rapidly respond to crises and "tried to be as honest as I could about the things I think any president coming in needs to think about."

"I have been blessed by having, and I admittedly am biased, some of the smartest, hardest-working, and good people in my administration that I think any president has ever had," he added. "And as a consequence of that team, I have been able to make good decisions. And if you don't have that around you, then you will get swamped. So I hope that he appreciated that advice."