Classy notes presidents left successors as Donald Trump looks set to leave White House

As it looks increasingly likely that Joe Biden will be elected US President, many are wondering whether his predecessor will continue a certain White House tradition.

Past presidents, upon leaving the Oval Office at the end of their final term, have left handwritten notes for whoever was about to take their place.

They typically see the departing president wishing their replacement well as well as offering them any advice they think might be useful.

Donald Trump received a letter from Barack Obama when he took office, and despite Trump questioning if he was truly born in America, Obama’s note was friendly in tone.

“Congratulations on a remarkable run,” he said.



It looks increasingly likely that Joe Biden will become the next President of the United States of America
(Image: Getty Images)

“Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.

“This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful. Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.

“First, we’ve both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It’s up to us to do everything we can [to] build more ladders of success for every child and family that’s willing to work hard.

“Second, American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It’s up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that’s expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend.

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Barack Obama left a heartfelt note for Donald Trump when he entered the Oval Office
(Image: Getty Images)

“Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.

“And finally, take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They’ll get you through the inevitable rough patches.

“Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.

“Good luck and Godspeed, BO.”

Obama himself was left a letter by his predecessor George W. Bush, who led the country from 2001 until 2009. In it he cautioned the new president that there would be tough times ahead and to expect friends to let him down.

“Congratulations on becoming our President. You have just begun a fantastic chapter in your life,” Bush wrote.

“Very few have had the honor of knowing the responsibility you now feel. Very few know the excitement of the moment and the challenges you will face.

“There will be trying moments. The critics will rage. Your ‘friends’ will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead.

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“God bless you. Sincerely, GW.”



Barack Obama received this note from outgoing President Bush in 2009
(Image: Twitter@cannonreport)

In 2001, outgoing president Bill Clinton left the following letter for Bush, in which he expressed his “sheer joy” for the job:

“Today you embark on the greatest venture, with the greatest honor, that can come to an American citizen.

“Like me, you are especially fortunate to lead our country in a time of profound and largely positive change, when old questions, not just about the role of government, but about the very nature of our nation, must be answered anew.

“You lead a proud, decent, good people. And from this day you are President of all of us. I salute you and wish you success and much happiness.

“The burdens you now shoulder are great but often exaggerated. The sheer joy of doing what you believe is right is inexpressible.

“My prayers are with you and your family. Godspeed. Sincerely, Bill.”



Bill Clinton’s 2001 letter to George W. Bush
(Image: Twitter@cannonreport)

Back in 1993, Bush’s own dad George H. W. Bush wrote Clinton a note after he failed to win a second term:

“When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too,” he wrote.

“I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

“There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

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“You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.



George H.W. Bush left this note for new president Bill Clinton in 1993
(Image: Twitter@cannonreport)

“Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you. Good Luck — George.”

It’s unknown if Trump will participate in the tradition by leaving Biden a message before he leaves.