ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. First this hour, the presidential transition. The outgoing president welcomed the incoming president to the White House today. Barack and Michelle Obama arrived this afternoon at what will be their house about 10 weeks from now. Their visit mixed hospitality with business. First lady Laura Bush gave Mrs. Obama a tour of the second- floor residence, and President Bush and President-elect Obama talked for nearly two hours. NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA: The long motorcade, presidential in every way except for officially, entered the White House grounds at 1:46 p.m. The black limousine carrying the president-elect and his wife stopped right beneath a sunbathed Truman balcony. Photographers captured the moment as Senator and Michelle Obama stepped from the car and exchanged greetings with the president and Laura Bush.

There were smiles and handshakes and pats on the back, and then a turn to pose for the cameras before stepping inside. There was no on-camera statement by Mr. Bush or Senator Obama. Just before the arrival, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino noted that it would be the first-ever one-on-one meeting between the two men. As for their spouses...

Ms. DANA PERINO (Press Secretary, White House): Obviously, there's the Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Bush meeting, which is going to talk about how they will make their life here, and how they will make the house a home, and all the help that will at be at their disposal in order for them to do that.

GONYEA: On their way to what would also be Senator Obama's first-ever visit to the Oval Office, the president and president-elect walked along the White House colonnade, which runs along the north edge of the rose garden. Towson University presidential scholar Martha Joynt Kumar says it's significant that this meeting is taking place less than one week after the election.

Dr. MARTHA JOYNT KUMAR (Professor of Political Science, Towson University): Usually, a president meets the president-elect later in the transition period, and this time it's different. It's different, I think, because of the realities of two wars and an economic crisis.

GONYEA: She says the Bush White House put procedures in place early, well before the outcome of the election was known, to make sure the transition, at this critical time in U.S. history, would go smoothly. Congress also passed a law four years ago to make it possible for members of the incoming team to get security and other necessary clearances so they can be better prepared on the first day of the new administration. Press Secretary Perino was asked today if there would be any awkwardness given the strong criticisms Obama had of President Bush during the just-completed campaign.

Ms. PERINO: President Bush is able to let heated rhetoric like that just slide off his back and move forward and do what he thinks is right for the country. Obviously, right now the most important thing we can do is ensure a smooth transition to Barack Obama and his team. And that's what he's committed to doing.

GONYEA: And Perino stressed this won't be the only conversation the president and president-elect will have. Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.

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