The Latest: Obama dodges question about Trump appointment


WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on President Barack Obama’s news conference and last overseas trip as president (all times EST):

4:20 p.m.

President Barack Obama is dodging a question about concerns that minorities and others have about President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to name Steve Bannon — a man celebrated by the white nationalist movement — his chief strategist and senior adviser.

In a White House press briefing Monday, Obama says it’s not appropriate for him to comment on every Trump appointment. But he says he told Trump in their meeting last week that it’s important to try to send some signals of unity early on.

He says both sides of the political divide should give Trump some time to set up his team and Americans can judge him in a couple years.

Obama also says he told Trump that campaigning is different than governing and sometimes good sound bites don’t equate to good policy.

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4:05 p.m.

President Barack Obama says he urged his successor to immediately turn his focus to finding qualified people to staff his White House.

In a White House press briefing Monday ahead of his last foreign trip as president, Obama offered some details about the meeting he had last week with Donald Trump.

He said he offered Trump honest advice in a lengthy conversation and highlighted the importance of finding trusted aides.

Obama stressed the need to give Trump the “rope and space” for a “reset.”

The president also reflected on his own arrival in the White House during the midst of the economic crisis. He says Trump will have more “time and space” to make “judicious decisions.”

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4:00 p.m.

President Barack Obama has a message to Democrats: Compete everywhere and show up everywhere.

In a White House news conference Monday ahead of his last foreign trip as president, Obama reflected on Democrat Hillary Clinton’s loss to President-elect Donald Trump in last week’s election.

He also reflected on his own campaign for president eight years ago, recalling all of the time he spent in Iowa to win that state’s lead-off caucuses. He said he won the state because he spent time going everywhere, meeting everyone.

He stresses that Democrats “have to compete at a grass roots level.”

Clinton spent much of her time and money campaigning in swing and Republican-leaning states in the late stages of the 2016 campaign, losing several states that had consistently voted Democratic in the past several presidential elections.

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3:50 p.m.

President Barack Obama says he can reassure allies of the United States that his successor supports NATO.

Obama made the remark during a news conference just before embarking on his final overseas trip as president. He says on the weeklong tour of Greece, Germany and Peru, he’ll relay Donald Trump’s “commitment to NATO.” As a candidate for president, Trump complained that other members of the treaty organization did not contribute enough for the protections it affords.

Obama said the reassurance is “one of the most important functions” he can serve during the trip.

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3:15 p.m.

President Barack Obama is about to hold his first news conference since Republican Donald Trump won election to succeed him.

The session with reporters on Monday was expected to focus on questions about the election, its consequences for U.S. policy and Obama’s own legacy.

Obama will then depart on his last overseas trip as president. The weeklong tour was planned when it seemed certain Hillary Clinton would win the contest and was designed to reassure the world that the U.S. had regained its footing after a toxic campaign.

Obama will instead likely try to use the trip to calm world leaders about what comes next as Trump prepares to take over as president.

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