CNN's Camerota: 'Why Does President Obama Have to Be Gracious' to Trump?

On Thursday's New Day, during a panel discussion of the scheduled meeting at the White House between President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump, and whether the two would be cordial despite their differences, co-host Alisyn Camerota at one point wondered why it is that President Obama "has to be gracious" to Trump instead of just sending an intern to meet him. Camerota: "Why does President Obama have to be gracious? Why can't, I mean, I'm curious about the optics of this. Are he and First Lady Michelle going to the front door and going to glue smiles on their face and graciously open their arms and their home to Donald Trump, the man who questioned President Obama's birth, his citizenship, his family, his credentials, his legitimacy? Or can they just send an intern to the front door to let him in?"

After guest Jason Johnson of The Root lauded President Obama as someone who has "always been the dad-in-chief. He's always been the one who wanted to be more gracious. He's always been the one who's been noble," co-host Chris Cuomo brought up the thousands of protesters who are reacting against Trump's election, and asserted it is "not unexpected" as people are "trying to deal with this Jekyll and Hyde thing" of Trump getting elected. 

 

Cuomo:

So what we're seeing on the streets in all these different cities is not to -- is not unexpected, right? I mean, there are a lot of hard feelings here, and people are trying to deal with this Jekyll and Hyde thing of having President-elect Trump. He came out and said the things that a President usually says when they win about "let's bind the wound and be together." The problem is, for many of those people on that street and, you know, millions and millions of people across the country, he created the wounds. So how do you deal with that contrast?

Abby Philips of The Washington Post also sounded sympathetic to the protesters as she began her response:

Right, I mean, I think you can't really blame folks for taking Donald Trump's actual words at face value. And, frankly, for most people who are elected to the presidency, what they say they're going to do is the strongest indicator of what they actually do, so it's not surprising to see that.

She then invoked the complaints of those angry about Trump winning the presidency in the Electoral College despite receiving fewer popular votes nationwide:

But this is also the sort of perennial Monday morning quarterbacking in which everyone looks back and says, "Wow, we really should get rid of the Electoral College because it's not working out the way we want to," and I think it's just a wakeup call for some folks who have not been paying super-close attention to the electoral process, that this is in fact the way that it works where one candidate can win the popular vote, the other can lose the -- can win the Electoral College and thus become President.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, November 10, New Day on CNN:

5:08  a.m.. ET
CHRIS CUOMO: Let's deal with the big meeting that are coming today, and then we'll deal with the optics surrounding it. You cannot have a starker contrast between two political animals than between Trump and Obama. Clearly, Jackie, Trump's election is a reaction in part to President Obama, but President Obama is a man who is known for his tolerance of criticism and his way of struggling to find a way to meet with somebody else. Trump got in there because he tolerates no critics. But is this about them today when they meet? Or do you think this is just a formality?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is about the country. This is about the transfer of power. They have to make this work. And, you know, these are also two people who don't personally like each other very much. But, you know, they kind of have to power through it, at this point.

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Jason, why does President Obama have to be gracious? Why can't, I mean, I'm curious about the optics of this. Are he and First Lady Michelle going to the front door and going to glue smiles on their face and graciously open their arms and their home to Donald Trump, the man who questioned President Obama's birth, his citizenship, his family, his credentials, his legitimacy? Or can they just send an intern to the front door to let him in?

JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: You know, you would think -- that's what a lot of people think they would do, Alisyn. But here's the thing: This has always been President and Senator Barack Obama. He's always been the dad-in-chief. He's always been the one who wanted to be more gracious. He's always been the one who's been noble. It's, in fact, one of the things he thinks has defined his presidency. His desire for his civility, his desire to be reasonable. I'll be honest with you, I don't think it's going to be like that when they're together in private. I think it might be a lot more contentious. But I think, publicly at least, Barack Obama recognizes that no one benefits -- no one in this country, no one in the government -- benefits if they appear to be cantankerous and hostile.

CAMEROTA: But in private, you think that they're actually going to go at it a little bit.

JOHNSON: Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised. I mean given -- who's he talking to, you know? And I'm sure at some point Barack Obama will say to him, "Look, that stuff that you said about me, I dealt with it fine, right? I'm still President. I won twice. But if you take that attitude to running this country, you will see a revolt at the state level and in Congress, the likes of which you couldn't realize." I think he's going to tell him that, and I don't think Trump's going to want to hear it.

CUOMO: And, also, it's not about him. It's not about his house, it's the White House. This transition of power is something that has to be done. The President has recognized that many times. Abby, so what we're seeing on the streets in all these different cities is not to -- is not unexpected, right? I mean, there are a lot of hard feelings here, and people are trying to deal with this Jekyll and Hyde thing of having President-elect Trump. He came out and said the things that a President usually says when they win about "let's bind the wound and be together." The problem is, for many of those people on that street and, you know, millions and millions of people across the country, he created the wounds. So how do you deal with that contrast?

ABBY PHILIP, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right, I mean, I think you can't really blame folks for taking Donald Trump's actual words at face value. And, frankly, for most people who are elected to the presidency, what they say they're going to do is the strongest indicator of what they actually do, so it's not surprising to see that.

But this is also the sort of perennial Monday morning quarterbacking in which everyone looks back and says, "Wow, we really should get rid of the Electoral College because it's not working out the way we want to," and I think it's just a wakeup call for some folks who have not been paying super-close attention to the electoral process, that this is in fact the way that it works where one candidate can win the popular vote, the other can lose the -- can win the Electoral College and thus become President.

And I expect that the tone at the White House today is going to be entirely set by Donald Trump. You know, if he comes out the way that he did Tuesday night, and is very conciliatory and has a plan for how he's going to express a desire to bring the country together. I think that this will be a meeting that is cordial in public and cordial in private. I don't think that President Obama feels that this is the opportunity for him to settle scores with Donald Trump at this point.

CAMEROTA: Jackie, I predict it will be very cordial in public and private because, when you meet with Donald Trump, one on one, he is polite and he is connected, and he does sort of feed off the dynamic of wanting you to like him and all of that stuff. And so I think that ti's going to go so much differently than it ever did in public between these two.

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