US election: Barack Obama will welcome Donald Trump to the White House

Barack Obama (Reuters)
Barack Obama (Reuters)

Outgoing US President Barack Obama says he'll welcome Donald Trump to the White House despite the "pretty significant differences" between them.

Speaking outside the White House, Mr Obama said the new President-elect's change in tone since winning the election gives him some hope for the future.

"I shot a video that some of you may have seen in which I said to the American people, regardless of which side you are on in the election, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, the sun would come up in the morning. That is one bit of prognosticating that came true - the sun is up. I know everybody had a long night - I did as well."

Mr Obama spoke not long after Ms Clinton delivered her concession speech, in which she said her opponent deserved an "open mind".

Mr Trump repeatedly called Ms Clinton a criminal during the election campaign, at one point promising to jail her, should he win. But last night, Mr Trump was respectful towards his opponent.

"Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time," he told supporters. "We owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country."

Both Ms Clinton and Mr Obama have personally spoken to Mr Trump to congratulate him. Mr Obama said despite his rhetoric, he believes Mr Trump wants "what's best" for the US.

"That's what I heard in Mr Trump's remarks last night, that's what I heard when I spoke to him directly, and I was heartened by that. That's what the country needs - a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion."

Mr Obama has promised to do his bit by ensuring a smooth transition between the administrations.

"It is no secret that the President-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. But remember - eight years ago President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences, but President Bush's team could not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition so we could hit the ground running.

"One thing you realise quickly in this job is that the presidency… is bigger than any of us."

Mr Obama praised Ms Clinton's campaign and her decades of public service.

"She was a great First Lady, she was an outstanding Senator for the state of New York, and she could not have been a better Secretary of State. I'm proud of her, a lot of Americans look up to her. Her candidacy and nomination was historic and sends a message to our daughters all across the country that they can achieve at the highest level of politics."

Ms Clinton is on track to win the popular vote, but Mr Trump won enough swing states to put him over the top in the Electoral College.