WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Before departing on his final overseas jaunt as commander in-chief of the United States, which will take him to Europe and South America, President Barack Obama continued to try and assuage fears about the pending Donald Trump administration -- the same role he is expected to perform on his foreign trip.
Obama said in the White House briefing room that he and his aides are doing everything they can to ensure a smooth transition between administrations, believing it will help facilitate success for the new president.
"I remember what it was like when I came in eight years ago. it is a big challenge," he said. "This office is bigger than any one person. And that's why ensuring a smooth transition is so important."
Obama fielded questions from reporters, most of whom inquired about the incoming Trump White House -- which was expected since it was the first time he's taken questions since the election.
The president met with Trump last week after the businessman's stunning upset victory on election night. That meeting spurred a smidgen of optimism among disappointed Democrats, as Obama and the GOP outsider exchanged pleasant remarks.
Monday, Obama said the race made one thing clear for both parties -- getting out the vote is critical.
"Hopefully it's a reminder that elections matter. Voting counts," he said. "I don't know how many times we have to relearn this lesson, because we ended up having 43 percent of the country not voting."
Trump performed spectacularly in all of the major battleground states -- Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin -- places that banked numerous key electoral votes into the GOP candidate's column, and places where analysts say a large number of Democratic voters did not cast a ballot. Had those voters not stayed home, experts postulate, it's far more likely that Hillary Clinton would have won at least some of them.
For example, as Michigan continues to finalize its ballot count, Clinton currently has 232 electoral votes -- 38 short of winning the election. Even if she had added only Wisconsin, a state virtually all the experts thought she would win, and Florida, where she lost by just 120,000 votes, Clinton would be the nation's 45th president -- not Trump.
Despite Clinton winning the popular vote by about 700,000 votes, Obama pointed out that this is how the system works.
"Those who didn't vote for him have to recognize that that's how democracy works," Obama said.
The president also said now would be a good time for his party to reflect on the campaign, learn from its mistakes and move forward.
"When your team loses, everybody gets deflated, and it's hard," he said. "I think it's a healthy thing for the Democratic Party to go through some reflection."
After his news conference, Obama departed a short time later to travel to Greece, where he will spend Tuesday and part of Wednesday before heading for Berlin, and finally Peru before returning to the United States on Sunday.
During his trip, Obama is expected to try and reassure foreign leaders concerned about potential trouble with a Trump administration.
"When I won there were a number of people who didn't like me and didn't like what I stood for," he said. "It takes a long time for people to reconcile themselves with that reality.
"I think it's important for us to let him make his decisions. And the American people will judge over the course of the next couple of years whether they like what they see."