US President Barack Obama cautioned against dire predictions for Donald Trump's presidency, saying his Republican successor faces a reality check if he tries to enact his most controversial campaign promises.
The outgoing Democratic leader made his comments at a wide-ranging news conference before he embarked on a farewell visit to Europe to reassure worried allies about a man he once warned was "unfit" to lead the United States.
Trump's election win last week over Hillary Clinton has been met with euphoria among his supporters, but also with a wave of protests across the nation that are unusual for the world's leading democracy.
The 70-year-old Republican billionaire -- who takes office in just nine weeks -- was holed up in his home office in Manhattan with his inner circle, working to shape his new administration.
While admitting that he had "concerns" about his successor, the message Obama delivered on Monday was designed to comfort those still ill at ease with Trump -- and a lesson for the billionaire populist in the art of the presidency.
Trump, a real estate developer and reality TV star who has never held political office, has threatened to shake up America's most important international relationships.
But Obama said that deporting millions of immigrants, tearing up mutual defense treaties with NATO and Japan and unraveling global deals on Iran's nuclear program and the environment were not as simple as delivering tub-thumping rhetoric.
"Regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office has a way of waking you up," Obama said.
"Reality has a way of asserting itself," he added, offering his view that Trump is pragmatic rather than ideological.
Obama said that during a meeting with Trump at the White House last week, he had told the president-elect that his actions can move markets, tanks and public sentiment.
"I emphasized to him that, look, in an election like this that was so hotly contested and so divided, gestures matter," Obama said.
"It's really important to try to send some signals of unity and to reach out to minority groups or women or others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign."
"Do I have concerns? Absolutely. Of course, I have concerns. He and I differ on a whole bunch of issues. But the federal government and our democracy is not a speedboat -- it's an ocean liner."
- 'Pragmatic' -
Amid dire predictions about the end of the republic and the global order, Obama said that Trump's inexperience in politics and lack of intellectual baggage could be an asset.
"I don't think he is ideological. I think ultimately he is pragmatic in that way," he told reporters at his first news conference since the Republican mogul defeated his Democratic rival Clinton in last week's presidential election.
"And that can serve him well as long as he's got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction," he added.