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. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    in order:

    jerk, non-jerk, biggest jerk, somewhat a jerk, humanitarian.

    January 7, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Lauren the Designer

    I like it. Very cool photo op.
    They all look genuinely happy and comfortable to be in each other's presence.

    January 7, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Meh

    Now THAT is a leader. Go Obama!!

    January 7, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Sally from Cali

    Comment on your article about Obama aging by 2013. He's almost 50 and looks younger that many 40 year olds.

    Don't be surprised by how youthful he will still look in 2013. It's not a myth and it's not just healthy living. It's in the genes.

    January 7, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I WONDER IF THEY TOOK ANY PICTURES WITHOUT OBAMA IN IT!!!

    IF SO I WOULD LOVE A POSTER OF THEM ON MY WALL!!!!!!!!

    January 7, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. Newport News, VA

    Bush Sr. looks like he doen't even want to be in the same room with W.

    January 7, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Meh

    Oh, TCM, why so negative all the time? If you really want this nation to succeed (And this is something I think we all want), we sort of have to all pull together, regardless of who we voted for.

    January 7, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Kevin in Ohio

    A fascinating scene....and a rare one.....only twice before in our nation's history have there been as many living presidents at one time.

    January 7, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Alex

    Why am I reminded of the wedding photo from The Godfather?

    The face of organized crime often comes packaged in a smile...

    January 7, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    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…..
    ----------------–
    With the carnage W has already caused in the past 8 years, the American people have aged 16 years already!

    January 7, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Brian

    Hahah !!

    Getting advice from "Slick Willy", eh?

    Some advice on how to –[fill in the blank]– in the oval office.

    Brings back memories of Monica Lewinsky, eh?

    Yes he can !!

    January 7, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    SOUTHERN HOTTIE January 7th, 2009 4:10 pm ET

    in order:

    jerk, non-jerk, biggest jerk, somewhat a jerk, humanitarian.
    -------------–
    Do you mean left-to-right, or right-to-left?

    January 7, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    SOUTHERN HOTTIE January 7th, 2009 4:10 pm ET

    in order:

    jerk, non-jerk, biggest jerk, somewhat a jerk, humanitarian.
    -------------–
    Do you mean left-to-right, or right-to-left?

    January 7, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. Brian

    Where's Al Gore ??

    January 7, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. Bob the Observer

    Anybody remember the last page of George Orwell's "Animal Farm?" As I look at that picture, I am amazed at how much they all look alike.

    January 7, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Proud American

    Well thank god a real presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter was in the room. Not much to say about the other 2

    January 7, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. Meh

    Virginia> Enough w. the inuendos. For some reason some of you are obsessed w. the idea that Barack must have some skeletons in his closet. Isn't it possible that he's a perfectly nice guy? My goodness, I don't hear you complaining about W...a man with PROVEN skeletons.

    Give the man a chance! Sheesh! And, hey, there's nothing wrong w. pointing out the obvious: Barack's a fine-looking man.

    January 7, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. Proud American

    13 more days and Americans will be dancing in the streets.

    January 7, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. PoliticoMike

    I have to say I love this shot! But couldn't help sing that song: "Which of These Is Not Like The Other?!" I love it. Yay For Change!

    January 7, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. Soccer Nana

    @ John from Colorado,

    There is an avalanche with your name on it in Colorado. Listen, and follow it. Moron.

    January 7, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. JA/TN

    we have bottomed out, there is nowhere to go but up, God Bless America and the World Over

    January 7, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. Matt

    @ mj

    This has nothing to do with "you just try being president for one day..." It's the simplest thing in the world to know that things like torturing people or holding them without due process or lying to justify a war that will kill thousands upon thousands of people (ours and theirs) and WRONG. These things are no-brainers....so is Bush.

    January 7, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. anotherme

    We are not a collection of blue ties and red ties....

    January 7, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    HEY CLOSET REPUBLICAN,

    GET READY YOUR CHANGE IS COMING!!!!!!!!!!!

    CAN YOU SAY DEPRESSION!!!!!!!!

    CAN YOU SAY THE END OF THIS COUNTRY!!!!!!!

    CHINA PRETTY MUCH OWNS US NOW!!!!!!!!!!

    SO WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 7, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. MikeH

    From left to right, A Liar, An admitted Cokehead, A Liar / Cokehead/ Alcoholic / Deserter, A Liar, Pothead, Adulterer, and who knows what Jimmy did with those peanuts.

    January 7, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
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