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Tenant takes a first look at his new office -

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Tenant takes a first look at his new office

The World Today - Tuesday, 11 November , 2008 12:30:00

ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to the United States where President George W. Bush has given his
successor his first private tour of the oval office. It was their first face to face meeting since
President elect Barack Obama's resounding election defeat of Republican John McCain last week.

And despite Mr Obama's trenchant criticism of the Bush adminstration during the campaign, the Obama
family was warmly received at the White House. As Washington Correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: It's just ten weeks before Barack Obama will make history as the first African
American occupant of the Oval Office.

But he only got to see the historic room for the first time today when he met President George W.
Bush there.

Their talk was so private, that no-one else was in the room. The meeting is a symbolic moment in
the transition of power, a shift that won't be finalised until Barack Obama takes the oath of
office on January the 20th.

But for Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, it's given them a glimpse of what's in store for their
family. Michelle Obama was given a tour of the private residence by the First Lady Laura Bush.
Anita McBride is the current First Lady's chief of staff and she says Mrs Obama was keen to see the
bedrooms that her two daughters will be using.

ANITA MCBRIDE: She thought the rooms were beautiful and would be perfect for her two little girls
and that they could decorate in a way that would be appropriate for young children and it is a
historic room, the Kennedy children lived there, the Johnson girls live there, Chelsea Clinton as
well and Amy Carter, so it has you know historical significance yet it still can be perfect for
children so I think she was very happy to see that.

KIM LANDERS: There've been no signs that the two hour visit was awkward, even though it could have
been given that Barack Obama has spent the past several months blasting the President for what he
calls "failed policies".

Michael Bechloss is a Presidential historian. He says the meeting between the incoming and outgoing
Presidents is a rite of passage.

MICHAEL BECHLOSS: This is basically a product of the cold war, after World War Two for instance
when Harry Truman was giving way to Dwight Eisenhower, they thought it was a very good idea to make
sure that that war time transition took place in an orderly way.

KIM LANDERS: One of the most interesting transition meetings was between the 70 year old Dwight
Eisenhower and the 43 year old John F Kennedy. President Eisenhower took the time to show the
incoming President how to use the panic button in the Oval Office.

MICHAEL BECHLOSS: And the subtext there was that Eisenhower felt that Kennedy was unprepared he
called him a sort of a young, not sort of, he did call him away from his hearing a young whipper
snapper, called him worse things but to show Kennedy the responsibilities he was about to assume
Eisenhower said well you know it may be that if there is a nuclear alert the President and the
White House staff would have to evacuate, this is how it's done.

Pressed a button, said send a chopper, five minutes later the helicopter was landing on the White
House lawn.

KIM LANDERS: Barack Obama will be responsible for hiring thousands of people across his
Administration. His website has been inundated with people wanting to apply for jobs.

Dina Powell is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and she was deeply involved
in the last Presidential transition.

DINA POWELL: But I think that what they will need to do is stay very focussed on what he's trying
to accomplish in all of these different agencies at the government and make sure that they not only
pick the most qualified people but they ensure that there's a real balance of view so that he has
different perspectives from which to call upon.

KIM LANDERS: Meanwhile the finger pointing in the Republican Party ranks continues. Alaska Governor
Sarah Palin is pointing the finger at the Bush Administration for damaging the Republican brand.

SARAH PALIN: And I think the republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of
what had gone on in these last eight years that Americans were kind of shaking their heads and
going wait a minute, how did we run up a $10-trillion debt in a Republican administration.

How have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration?

KIM LANDERS: Speculation about Sarah Palin's future is being fuelled by a series of national
television interviews that she's scheduled. And she pointedly hasn't ruled out running for
President or Vice President in 2012.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.