President Obama On Trump: ‘I Don’t Think He’s Ideological’

Chris Kleponis/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

President Barack Obama told reporters Monday that he believes President-elect Donald Trump is coming to the White House with a more flexible outlook on policy than his predecessors.

“He is coming to this office with fewer set hard-and-fast policy prescriptions than a lot of other presidents might be arriving with,” Obama said. “I don’t think he is idealogical. I think ultimately he is pragmatic in that way. And that can serve him well as long as he’s got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction.”

During the campaign Trump made building a border wall, deporting millions of immigrants and blocking Muslims from entering the U.S. key parts of his message. However, now that he has been elected, Trump seems to be softening on some of his positions. That change, Obama said may be a reflection of the fact that Trump is not tied to a specific policy prescription.

Of course, the open question of what Trump could do next was still unnerving for the President.

“Do I have concerns? Absolutely. Of course, I have concerns. He and I differ on a whole bunch of issues,” Obama said.

What Obama did emphasize was that the government is designed to halt radical change.

“But the federal government and our democracy is not a speedboat, it’s an ocean liner,” Obama said. “As I discovered when I came into office. It took a lot of really hard work for us to make significant policy changes, even in our first two years when we had larger majorities than Mr. Trump will enjoy when he comes into office.”

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Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.
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