All smiles and compliments, President-elect Obama and his wife, Michelle, called on President Bush and first lady Laura Bush Monday in a White House visit that was part political ritual, part practical introduction and a striking symbol of the historic transfer of power to come.
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer
The president and Obama talked war and financial crisis. Laura Bush and Michelle Obama talked about raising daughters in the nation’s most famous house.
Then Obama flew back to Chicago to work on setting up the new administration that will take over on Jan. 20.
Mrs. Obama came earlier than her husband to the nation’s capital, and stayed after him, hunting a new school for the kids by visiting two of the city’s best-known private schools.
President Bush and President-elect Obama walk along the West Wing Colonnade of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, prior to their meeting in the Oval Office.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
If first impressions matter, Obama and his wife displayed one similarity to the super-punctual Bushes, pulling up to the White House’s South Portico 11 minutes early. The couples traded warm and easy greetings in the crisp autumn sunshine, with the wives exchanging pleasantries about the fall hues each wore — Mrs. Bush in a brown dress and Mrs. Obama in a red one.
While Obama and Bush, in business suits, proceeded waving and smiling down the White House Colonnade for nearly two hours of private talks, Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Bush had their own agenda: talk of raising children in most unusual circumstances. Mrs. Bush conducted a tour of the living quarters of the historic mansion and made introductions to the army of residence staff who look after first families.
Michelle Obama had toured the White House before with daughters Malia, who is 10, and Sasha, who is 7. But the two women had never met.
The 43rd president and the man who will be the 44th — and first black — commander in chief met alone in the Oval Office, with no handlers or staff. It was Obama’s first time in the storied workspace, even though he had been to the White House previously for events.
Neither the Bushes nor the Obamas spoke to reporters.
President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office, November 10, 2008.(White House photo by Eric Draper/Handout/Reuters)