Bush and Obama Hold Historic Meeting

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CBNNews.com - WASHINGTON - President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama met for nearly two hours, Monday, marking their first-ever face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, arrived at the South Portico early, where they were warmly welcomed by the President and First Lady.  Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Obama had their own seperate meeting, while the President and President-elect talked about the future of the country.

But handshakes and smiles aside, most expect obvious breaks in policy under the new administration.

Obama wants to hit the ground running when he's sworn into office. And that could involve using his new presidential powers to undo some of policies of the last eight years.

Obama to Target Bush Policies

The meeting between the current President and his successor is seen as a rite of passage.

But what's uncommon about today's private conversation between Barack Obama and President Bush is their agenda, packed with daunting challenges from the economy to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I am not the President and I won't be until January 20," Obama said in a press conference last week.

But that doesn't mean he's sitting still.

Advisers say that the President-elect plans to hit the ground running immediately after being sworn into office.

Obama has reportedly tasked his legal team to target hundreds of President Bush's executive orders that could be overturned - like the administration's policies on limiting federal funding of stem cell research and domestic drilling in and around the U.S.

"There's a lot that the President can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we'll see the President do that," said John Podesta, co-chair of Obama's transition team.

Using presidential powers is nothing new.

Bush, after he took office, reinstated abortion restrictions on U.S. overseas aid, following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush.

But President Clinton lifted the order shortly after he came to power and analysts say don't be surprised if Obama does the same.

Economy Still Top of Mind

Still, the biggest concern is the economy.

Last week after the election, Obama's first act as President-elect was to meet with leading experts on the economy.

The incoming White House Chief Of Staff Rahm Emanuel says it's priority number one.

"You cannot have a strong and resilient economy that does not have a strong and resilient middle class," Emanuel said. "They have been squeezed, over the last number of years. And it is essential to have an economic strategy that strengthens them going forward."

Obama has yet to name any cabinet positions, but is said to be considering Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

Also, Obama will have the upper hand in Congress, where Democrats have padded their majorities in the House and Senate.

"We're going to invite the American people -- when the opposition is appropriate, we're going to invite the American people to join us in stopping any slide to the left by the Obama administration or Pelosi Democrats," Rep. Mike Pence said.

Leading Republicans say they plan to work with the new President, but also serve as "cheerful opposition" - and a check against Democrats in Congress and now The White House.

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CBN News
John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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