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

Transition to Power: Presidential power lunch


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. Tolu

    I love it.

    January 7, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. WIlly Brown

    Great picture of all presidents, and that peanut boy who thought he was a president for a day.

    January 7, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. Proud American

    Great picture of three great men.

    All the Republican Haters and Democrat Haters need to grow up and get a life!

    January 7, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. Tolu

    That's PRESIDENT Obama to you, TCM. Get with the program and get over it.

    January 7, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Proud American

    Great picture of FIVE great men

    ll the Republican Haters and Democrat Haters need to grow up and get a life!

    January 7, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. Ray

    I wish I would have been Invited for this picture. I am just as important as all of them....

    January 7, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Art in California

    Nice to see another historic gathering. It seems rare that past presidents do meet for any reason and I'm glad they could come together. Now if only the House, Senate and American people could put aside petty differences and work together to improve our lives and our country we'd really be on the road to becoming a great nation again instead of a bunch of squabbling kids. United not divided. This IS the United States of America. I'm going to do my part to work with everyone to improve our lives and the country.

    January 7, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Sick Personon Board!!!

    @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…..You look like and smell like an IDIOT!!!!

    January 7, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. flybyshoeing

    What a phoney Bush is. How could he even face Obama after what came out yesterday about the Blair House lies.

    January 7, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. KJ, in Atlanta

    This is a true depiction of democracy! We all could learn a lesson from this, and that lesson being, "no matter how young and fresh your ideals or idealogy may be it is a true leader that listens to advice of others, especially those that have been where you are trying to go". Now whether you use that advice is clearly a test of the president -elects discernment. Time will only tell! I wish him the best as a Proud American, I want to see America succeed. Don't you?

    January 7, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. boered1

    change we can believe in!!!

    obama has a very good chance of fixing the mess left by the last 4 presidents, as this meeting shows, the first of its kind mind you, he is willing to talk and listen!

    January 7, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. April fools day?

    Change,what change?The "Who" lyrics were right,meet the new boss,same as the old boss.

    January 7, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Tired of Whining Liberals!

    Will the fraud be able to keep those lines open, or will he allow himself to be led by the far left Congress?

    My money is on Congress since they have him left where they want him.

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

    TCM, here you are again. Do you ever have anything positive to say? What a sour negative life you must lead. Obama may age but it won't be from any carnage he will cause, it will be from the carage he tries to clean up after Bush.

    January 7, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. The terrified one

    Which one is Obama?

    January 7, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Alan

    I find it interesting that Bush Senior still has a LOT of non-white hair, compared to the others...even Bush Junior. Hmmm.

    January 7, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. george from alaska

    jimmy carter was our greatest modern president and probably the greatest president in us history. he is an honest, modest, caring, spiritial man who refuses to conform and fit in a box...secular, religious, and otherwise. how many other presidents speak domestic & foreign policy truth while building houses for the homeless on a daily basis...none.

    January 7, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. Rachel

    Being a proud and true American I think the picture is great. I saw five of our Presidents before at some opening of a Library and they stood tall in my eyes. I don't care what is said about any of them. They are ours and think of the alternative. Would you rather have a smart, cunning, good looking dictator standing there by himself because all the others are dead, in jail, or booted out of their country. No matter what we've gone through, rough times. or good, America lands on it's feet every time. And we have had many good Presidents.The old saying "America – love it or leave it". Plain and simple!

    January 7, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  19. Jozee

    @/TCM who wrote: with the carnage OBama's going to cause, he'll look like the other 4 in four years…..

    Clearly, you need a laxative; you are full of it.

    January 7, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    I sure hope they weren't serving broccoli. Bush (the father) hates broccoli.

    January 7, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  21. Penny

    John –

    You are stupid. Why ruin a wonderful historical picture with your racial comments.

    Otherwise I love this picture.

    January 7, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. Griff

    America? A new "South Africa".... Now you know why.... Africa will...
    America won't.... Africa will be a New Europe.... USA..????

    January 7, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. DK

    Is Jimmy Carter dead? Is this a pic from some presidential weekend at Burnies? If not, the caption editor should be fired. Can't even count to 5, or maybe s/he didn't recognize Carter.

    January 7, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. darby

    Oh, to be a fly on the wall during that luncheon !!

    January 7, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Abbott and Costello (the Bushes) meet educated men of accomplishment!!!

    January 7, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
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