Will Obama hold fire on Trump? – The Hill

 In U.S.
President Obama is grappling with the difficult question of how to handle his successor, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump tweets about ‘serious voter fraud’ in 3 states What’s next in the Wisconsin recount Fed braces for Trump administration shake-up MORE, after he leaves office in January. 

Obama has frequently lauded former President George W. Bush for moving off the political stage to give him space to govern, a courtesy he says he wants to extend to Trump.

But Obama knows he is being replaced by a president who’s vowed to roll back many of his core policies and whose worldview could not be more different from his own. Obama has pledged a smooth transition of power, and in the process has made several friendly overtures to his onetime political nemesis. 

He told reporters last Sunday in Peru that despite their differences, Trump deserves the same chance he had to lead without his predecessor “popping off.”

But during the same news conference, he suggested there might be a breaking point for his vow of silence.

“As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle, but go to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes,” Obama said.

Trump, for his part, has suggested he hit it off with Obama during a White House meeting two days after his election. The two men had previously not met. 

The president-elect gushed to The New York Times this week about how Obama “said very nice things” about him after their Oval Office meeting. 

“I hope that we will have a great long-term relationship,” Trump said of Obama. “I really liked him a lot and I’m a little bit surprised I’m telling you that I really liked him a lot.”

During the campaign, Obama repeatedly blasted Trump’s plans to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., repeal Obama’s healthcare law and deport millions of undocumented immigrants, including those brought here as children.

Many Democrats are clamoring for Obama to speak out if the incoming president follows through on those pledges. 

“I understand the impulse to give your successor room to govern, but we’re not talking about policy changes. We’re talking about fundamental changes to the republic,” said Hari Sevugan, who served as a spokesman for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and for the Democratic National Committee.

Barack ObamaBarack ObamaFed braces for Trump administration shake-up Chuck Todd tells Conway that blaming the media is a ‘crutch’ Rubio says he thinks rolling back concessions to Castro regime top priority for Trump MORE is a voice for integrity, decency and the best of America,” he added. “We need his voice now more than ever.” 

There are signs Obama could be an effective anti-Trump messenger in 2017 and beyond.

He’s leaving office as a popular figure: His approval rating has reached a seven-year high of 59 percent, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The same does not hold true for the Democratic Party, which only 39 percent of Americans view favorably. 

Democrats see Obama as one of the only people who can still unite what has become a fractured party. 

“There is a vacuum right now. Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump tweets about ‘serious voter fraud’ in 3 states What’s next in the Wisconsin recount Trump claims voter fraud without evidence, says ‘I won the popular vote’ MORE is moving off the stage and there isn’t time for someone else to step on and take over,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. 

But Trump opponents might not get their wish.

The president did not say exactly what would trigger him to speak out, although he did sketch out a basic scenario. 

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