President Barack Obama has warned there are “certain elements” of Donald Trump’s temperament that will not serve him well “unless he recognises them and corrects them”.
With just weeks left in office, Mr Obama said the president-elect understands that a candidate being reckless with his words can be less consequential than a president saying the same thing.
Mr Obama noted that markets move and foreign governments take note of a president’s rhetoric and stressed that national security “requires a level of precision” so that deadly mistakes are not made. He said blunt-spoken Mr Trump “recognises that this is different – and so do the American people”.
In a White House news conference ahead of his final overseas trip as president, Mr Obama made the argument that immigration is good for the American economy.
He acknowledged that many Americans have grown sceptical about the “complex argument” in support of immigration, when they see factories closing at home and jobs going offshore. But he said “immigration is good for our economy” if it is “orderly and lawful”.
Mr Trump campaigned on a promise to limit immigration into the US and bring offshore jobs back home. But Mr Obama maintained that it is still his “strong belief” that achieving a strong global economy does not mean “shutting people out”. And he believes Mr Trump will seek to “send some signals of unity” to people alienated by his ferocious campaign.
He said he advised the president-elect “to reach out to minority groups or women or others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign” and “that’s something that he will want to do”.
But he added that Mr Trump is trying to balance commitments he made to “supporters that helped to get him here”.
On the campaign trail, Mr Trump described Mexicans as rapists and criminals. He vowed to build a wall along the US’s southern border and make Mexico pay for it. He appeared to mock a reporter with a physical disability and threatened to sue several women who accused him of assaulting them.
Mr Trump also disparaged the Muslim American parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq, and battled a former Miss America who is Latino about having gained weight.
Mr Obama stressed the need to give Mr Trump the “rope and space” for a “reset” once he takes over the reins of power.
Earlier it emerged that Mr Trump was considering a woman and an openly gay man to fill major positions in his new leadership team.
It would be seen as history-making moves that would inject diversity into a Trump administration already facing questions about its ties to white nationalists. The incoming president is considering Richard Grenell as United States ambassador to the United Nations.
If picked and ultimately confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first openly gay person to fill a Cabinet-level foreign policy post.
Mr Grenell previously served as US spokesman at the UN under former President George W Bush’s administration.
At the same time, Mr Trump is weighing up whether to select the first woman to serve as chairman of the Republican National Committee.
On his short list of prospective chairs: Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, the former sister-in-law of Trump rival and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“I’ll be interested in whatever Mr Trump wants,” Ms McDaniel said, adding that she was planning to seek the Michigan GOP chairmanship again.
Internal deliberations about staffing come a day after Mr Trump made overtures to warring Republican circles by appointing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff and Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon as chief strategist and senior counsellor.