January 7th, 2009
02:00 PM ET
12 years ago

Transition to Power: Presidential power lunch

ALT TEXT

President-elect Obama, President Bush, and the three living former presidents posed briefly for pictures before meeting privately at the White House Wednesday. (Getty Images)

(CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama, President Bush and all of the surviving past presidents got together Wednesday for a historic meeting at the White House.

"One message that I have, and I think we all share, is that we want you to succeed. Whether we're Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country," Bush told Obama before lunch with the former presidents.

Bush and Obama were joined by Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Watch: 'We want you to succeed,' Pres. Bush tells Obama

Obama thanked the president for hosting them and said he was grateful for the opportunity to get "advice, good counsel and fellowship" from the group.

Obama's press secretary said the presidents had a "very constructive conversation" and Obama appreciated "the spirit of bipartisanship they showed" in wishing him success.

"The president and the former presidents had helpful advice on managing the office, as well as thoughts on the critical issues facing the country right now. The president-elect is anxious to stay in touch with all of them in the coming years," Robert Gibbs said.

Presidential historian Doug Brinkley said it's "very smart politics for Obama to keep a channel open" with the former presidents.

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soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. TCM

    with the carnage OBama's going to cause, he'll look like the other 4 in four years.....

    January 7, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Christina

    Picture perfect!!!

    January 7, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. Shari, NY

    Lovely! I admire Obama's humility and I agree with Doug Brinkley's statement.

    January 7, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. J in NJ

    Can we please stop butchering the English language. It's transition "of" power not "to ".

    January 7, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. george from alaska

    i don't know why i even bother to post in those commentary "post a comment" sections. i have NEVER had one printed. they are totally censored by cnn, so i'll post here. presidents depend on our intelligence agencies, but most spies are weak, sniveling, vouyeristic, peeping toms that get a kick out of peeking at others. they need a "normal" person to supervise them, not an insider...insider top management is the primary problem with our intelligence agencies.

    January 7, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Roger

    I think that the President-elect should start a tradition of making this luncheon a yearly event. I think it does the country good to see all the Presidents together because they truly are the only ones who know how grueling and demanding that job is and the chance to discuss things together surely is a productive thing.

    January 7, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. Arkansas Undertaker

    I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for this historic meeting! This is great. The five living Presidents!!!!

    January 7, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. YOLA

    As an American, this picture really touches my heart – politics aside.

    January 7, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  9. Give me a break!

    Love it! It's great to see them all together! To me, it's a "healing" scene – maybe that we all can get along afterall? At least, that's what I'm hoping so we can get our country back on track!!

    January 7, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Proud American

    I sure hope someone strapped little Georgie in his high chair and cut up his meat. lol what a little Idiot. 13 more days.

    January 7, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  11. tired of corporate politics

    This is one thing that makes our country great. In many other places in the world the "next" leader is trying to jail or kill the "previous" leader.

    I still think they are all corporate DNC/RNC puppets but hey, there is free speech here too! Maybe we'll see a lady in there too amoung the gentlemen, someday.

    January 7, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  12. tired of corporate politics

    This is one thing that makes our country great. In many other places in the world the "next" leader is trying to jail or kill the "previous" leader.

    I still think they are all DNC/RNC puppets but hey, there is free speech here too! Maybe we'll see a lady in there too amoung the gentlemen, someday.

    January 7, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. Angela TX

    Smart meeting from the president elect.
    Great not seeing a Bush, Bush, Clinton, Clinton in that photo op

    January 7, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. Larry in Houston

    What else are they going to tell him, right in front of the press ?
    other than....."we want you to succeed"

    Yes, an annual event of this type would be good for the country....
    More or less, like the do's & don'ts......what's good for the country, and what is not so good for the country, (at the time) of course....

    Larry C.
    Houston, Texas

    January 7, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. tina

    Now that Is CHANGE..........BEAUTIFUL PICTURE

    January 7, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  16. Len

    Roger you are correct. The American people deserve our president and former presidents to come together and discuss their ideas. Something that has been lacking for years.

    January 7, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. chuck

    THREE HAPPY DEMOCRATIC LEADERS WITH TWO MORONS.

    January 7, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. AnaB

    I think this is great personally. As much as I dislike the Bush administration, I believe all of these men really do want the best for our country.

    January 7, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. John in Ohio

    I bet the other Presidents are bummed that now they'll have to start letting minorities into the Bohemian Grove.

    January 7, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. obama-mama

    TCM January 7th, 2009 2:45 pm ET

    with the carnage OBama's going to cause, he'll look like the other 4 in four years…..
    _________________________________________________
    We age gracefully

    January 7, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. carol

    Looks as if they are having a good time together, but our new President is the cutest....he is surely a good looking guy.

    January 7, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  22. Beverly

    Obama stands out beautifully, doesn't he?

    January 7, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  23. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Oh, to be a fly on that wall or even to be a member of that ver exclusive club. I wish I could be there.

    January 7, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  24. ANGIE

    Great Job President Elect but did you have to stand in the middle of the too morons you should of stood by the good Presidents Clinton and Carter!

    January 7, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  25. Proud American

    tired of corporate politics January 7th, 2009 2:56 pm ET

    This is one thing that makes our country great. In many other places in the world the "next" leader is trying to jail or kill the "previous" leader.
    ______________________________________________________
    In this case the current leader should be jailed...

    January 7, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
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