November 17th, 2008
03:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama acts presidential even as he lays low

President-elect Obama called California's governor and the mayor of Los Angeles to express concern about the wildfires raging in Southern California.

President-elect Obama called California's governor and the mayor of Los Angeles to express concern about the wildfires raging in Southern California.

(CNN) – The man once referred to by a rival campaign as “the biggest celebrity in the world” has intentionally been keeping a very low profile in the awkward limbo period between Election Day and his inauguration on January 20.

But on Monday President-Elect Barack Obama stepped out a little and acted decidedly presidential in the middle of a disaster in California.

Obama called Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villraigosa “to express his concern over the wildfires and to receive an update on the situation,” according to a statement released by the Obama transition team Monday.

In the nearly two weeks since Election Day, Obama has taken great pains to make it clear that President Bush remains in charge of the country and its affairs until Obama’s swearing in two months. At his first press conference as president-elect, Obama stressed that the country only has one president at a time and, Obama did not participate in the recent economic summit of world leaders convened to discuss a coordinated response to the financial crisis that has roiled global securities and credit markets.

Update 3:15 p.m.: The Web site of President-elect Obama's presidential campaign,, was altered after Obama's calls to Gov. Schwarzenegger and Mayor Villaraigosa in order to encourage visitors to the site to donate to relief efforts for the victims of the Southern California wildfires. Click here to read a blog post on the Web site.

soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. DOH!!!

    Thanks for caring Mr. President-Elect.

    November 17, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Ken

    Alright people just need to calm down a bit here. I support the guy but we have to keep things realistic. Man, its like people are expecting him to fix the whole world. On the other hand I have to say, it is nice to see him reach across the isle with his former opponents. I just hope that they can get things done.

    November 17, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. Blue is my favourite colour

    AJ, Ha ha, you're funny. Obama huffing and puffing and putting out fires.

    He actually probably could–but there are too many fires that Bush started, so Obama's lung capacity is in overdrive. Right now, it simply can't reach that far across the country.

    November 17, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. rusell

    can anyone say '" THAT'S MY PRESIDENT ".................

    November 17, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. sine

    what we should be mentioning is the fact that the CURRENT "President' hasn't said or done anything in regards to California – Obama the President-Elect is going above and beyond, even if it is just a "phone-call".

    November 17, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  6. Greed is not good

    Ash all over the place and very hard to breath in So Cal. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts Pres. Obama.

    November 17, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Liberals are Scary

    Great! The US of A has elected another actor!
    Actually, Obama's call to Schwarznegger wasn't to express concern about the fires but to get Bradgelina's, Bennifer's and J-Lo's cell phone numbers!
    His call to Villaraigosa was to congratulate him on the latest hottie he was seen with on TMZ!
    Obama is a figurehead and any serious questions or issues are above his 'paygrade'!

    November 17, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  8. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    President-Elect Obama has handled himself with more distinction and aplomb in the last 2 weeks than President Bush has in the last 8 years.

    November 17, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. Mike

    bm....that is because he isn't American......still waiting for the birth certificate Mr. Obama.

    November 17, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. Harry, IL

    I wonder what Barack can do to help Arnie. Barack is under training now...Let him learn well because he has to govern this great nation. Those liberals have put him in power so let the fun begin.

    November 17, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. Sean

    Did I miss a whole month and Thanksgiving? This article has Obama being sworn in to office on December 17th 2008. I thought the PE took office after January 20th. Man I have to go read my elementary school government books.

    November 17, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. Alaskan Fame Junkie

    The Obama naysayers in here are hysterical...still prattling about birth certificates and messiahs and giving him flack for expressing concern in the face of a natural disaster. You should be thankful you finally have a president that actually gives a darn about you.

    By the way, the only person I saw acting holier than thou during the campaigns was Palin.

    November 17, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. heartlight3

    I think it is a sad commentary on the American people that, judging by the comments here, we don't seem to have any inclination to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. Who are we that we try so hard to find fault with anything our leader tries to do? I wonder sometimes what kind of life a person has who can only seek the worst in others? Who can only attribute negative motivations? If all we look for is something to criticize we will probably find it, but what does that make us? How can we improve anything that way?

    November 17, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Maggie from Virginia

    Nazir Jamal,

    Keep dreaming...

    November 17, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. Scott Tucson

    I sense panic in Obama, Pelosi and Reid if Bush doesn't go along with their bailout plan for the auto manufacturers. Bush if he does have a brain ought to tell them to take a hike and let the mighty one deal with it after January.

    November 17, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. Dianne

    Some people are so critical of President Elect Obama before he has had a chance to effect change. Were you ever that critical of President Bush? You have formed criticisms and made decisions based on unfounded hearsay. Many still support President Bush for lying, for awarding contracts to friends without bids, usurping more power than any other President, allowing Americans to suffer and die needless from Katrina without even the smallest care to call about their welfare, and to take this country into this financial disaster; not caring about the everyday people losing their jobs, but concerned over only Wall Street. This man concern is for Americans who eat with sterling silver flatware, his own kind, not for those of us who eat with plastic or stainless steel.

    November 17, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. hometowndemocrat

    Mike....give it up will you.....

    He supplied his birth certificate to the people that needed to see it...evidently you were not on that list. Sorry it that hurts your feelings.

    ARRGGHHHH, some people are so thick headed!

    November 17, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. lovable liberal

    Obama is America's leader in every way but the most important – the legal one. The 11-week period between election and inauguration is too long. Duhbya the lamest of lame ducks makes that pretty obvious.

    November 17, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. Peter (CA)

    Keep foaming at the mouth, right wingers.

    However, it's nice to have one guy who acts Presidential.
    And the more involved he gets now, the quicker he can hit the ground running in January.

    Obama show, libs are scary, Rob-
    Once again, spewing with no facts to back up ANYTHING you say.
    Go rant to Hannity and let him cry with you.

    November 17, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. 1/20/13

    Can there actually be disasters under an Obama administration????I thought it was all gum drops and unicorns once he won the election

    November 17, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. JB

    Scott tuscon – You sense "panic" in Obama? You're kidding right? Are you just parrotting Hannity and Limbaugh or you see an alternate reality? I doubt anyone has actually seen any sense of "panic" from Obama. Nice try, but no go.

    November 17, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. Maggie from Virginia

    Scott Tucson,

    How can you sense anything? You don't have any.

    November 17, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Mike

    To Lance:

    Actually, Louis Farrakan was the first person who called Obama 'The Messiah.' Not and Obama fan, and I think his administration will be a disaster, but I think un-realistic expectations are being put on him. He has inherited disasters caused by both Dems and Repubs-we should hold ALL politicians accountable.

    November 17, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Jim

    What standing does he have to express concern? If it were my state I would not have taken his call until after January 20th.

    November 17, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Jim

    And, Dianne, many liberals are still lying about Bush, even as he prepares to leave office. Like you. Give it up already; your guy won.

    November 17, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7