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. P. Y.

    Great picture !
    Love them or not, this is America and this is what it is all about.
    Stop the hatred and lets get on with fixing what has to be fixed in this country and hopefully add some help to the rest of the world.

    January 7, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. KB in Co.

    Inspired American Here!! "A pictures worth 1000 words," But there is just not enough space.

    January 7, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. Meka

    First time this has happened in 40 years!

    Thank you President Obama, for taking this step forward!

    January 7, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. closet republican

    @WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I'm wide awake. Just remember that everything you just listed that is wrong with this country DID NOT happen on Obama's watch. So what's your point?

    January 7, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. Pay attention!

    Why do people keep saying that Bush has kept our country safe? He has made it more vulnerable than ever before! Our military is stretched to the breaking point, we're bankrupt, and we have very few friends left.

    It's been pure luck that we haven't been hit again.

    January 7, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. AnaB



    January 7, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. Griff

    I am nearly ten years older than Mr Bush.... But if you ever need!
    No I have nothing... But You were enormous.... In 2001.... Just what a Democracy needs..... Give!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 7, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  8. Albo58

    Was Clinton checked for missing cutlery or small pieces of furniture before he departed?

    January 7, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. Kurt C.

    1 good man, 1 amateur, 1 decent man who made mistakes, 1 crook, and 1 boob.

    What a murderer's row.

    January 7, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  10. clifford

    Beautiful picture and I'll bet Barack Obama has a new found respect for George W. Bush. You can see it in his face in this picture and on today's newscast. This is want the American citizens and the WORLD must see! Nicely done.

    January 7, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  11. Angie

    I'm Not Missing The Old Mule & Winky Half-baked Alaska January 7th, 2009 3:54 pm ET

    "We want you to succeed," Bush tells Obama … The part of the conversation they left out … "Because I didn't do squat for eight years."

    HOW TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 7, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. Susie

    Yeah, he wants him to succeed, but can't let his family use the EMPTY Blair House, easy to secure, for two weeks. Instead, let Obama waste taxpayer money by staying in a hard-to-secure hotel for 10 days, move into Blair, then into the White House. Bush, you are a piece of work.

    January 7, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. Donna

    Okay, I know this picture is the snap shot of the year for sure, however, it was also a bit revealing too. Mr. Obama, from what I've read, was the one who suggested the luncheon to Pres. Bush at their initial meeting after he won the election. I think Mr. Obama has an ambitious spirit within. It was a cunning move. It was a political move for him. Of course the other president's are going to play along. They belong to a priveleged group, so naturally they should enjoy the accolades. But don't be too awed. Mr. Obama knows what he's doing...he's in the driver's seat.

    January 7, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Susie

    TCM and WELCOME, Give it a rest! Bush has caused all the carnage...Obama's gonna have to get a big shovel to undo all the damage. What are you so afraid of? A black man? Job creation? Ending a nonsensical war that caused far more deaths than 9-11? Honesty in the Justice Department? Accountability? No torture of anyone? A return to fiscal responsibility? Someone who says what he means instead of "So what?" Methinks you both protest too much.

    January 7, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  15. silvaheeren.com

    Wow, that pic is amazing, how long where they together? I personally think they should put parties aside, are really put their heads TOGETHER and start thinking a way out of this mess, together as a country, again together no parties, just american public... we need all the help we can get.

    January 7, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Otto

    This is another great moment in history and as a previous poster said; "a picture is worth a thousand words"

    Can't get better than this, can it?

    January 7, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. Heilene

    I agree with PY and KB. I may not agree with everything any of these men has or, in Obama's case, will do, but it it is a pretty awe-inspiring thought: Only a handful of people know what it's like to be a president of the United States. Whether you like them or not you need, to some degree, respect the office a bit.

    I do not like G. W. Bush's policies and I believe his administration must be called into account, but I think the shoe-throwing incident was terrible and unfortunate. And, to his credit, G. W. Bush seemed gracious and sincere in his comments to Obama. Anyone living in this country right now has a stake in whether or not we succeed. As citizens we need to both respect the office and criticize the policies as we see fit.

    Finally, enough of the polarizing rhetoric from all sides, citizens and politicians alike. Let's give each other the space to discuss and disagree respectfully.

    January 7, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. TCM

    I have nothing but hatte in my heart. I can't stand the thought of Obama becoming president so I have to spend my day slinging venom whenever I can.

    My father was a Band of Brothers. No, really he was. I have led men in battle, too. No, really I have!!!


    January 7, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. gregg45

    was that god with the others,, looking away.. i hope so

    January 7, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. PJP

    Pray for Obama because he is gonna need it. He is just a man no matter what some of you think! There is only one Messiah and Obama is not Him.

    January 7, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. beachgirl

    Lovely picture, you can tell who is actually "real" Clinton and Obama, go Democrats!!!!!!

    January 7, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  22. Linda

    Funny that W has the grey hair and Daddy doesn't.

    Why is Obama wearing a blue tie and not red?

    Obama looks the best and considering he's worked harder in the past year than all of the others put together.

    Looking forward to the hope and future of the USA!

    Thanks to all who were good and smart enough to vote for Obama.

    January 7, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  23. gregg45

    proud amerikan,, get real,, dancing in the streets of washington dc,,, more likely hiding from bullets from oh can you say,, the black thugs there to rob the ones that are stupid enuff to go,, go one people ,, lite the town up...

    January 7, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  24. gregg45

    linda ,, when is that lobotomy ?? oh never mind

    January 7, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  25. Sally

    To the pople who don't like Obama -

    Why didn't you run for President ???? You had your chance !

    Only a handful of people wanted the job and they ran for office. Obama won the majority of the votes.

    Get Over It !

    January 7, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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