Obama’s Last Full Day On Job Filled With Nostalgia and Thank You Calls

Ron Allen and Corky Siemaszko
President Obama's legacy

It was for President Obama a day of thank you calls, farewells, wrapping up loose ends — and business as usual.

Obama began his last full day on the job Thursday the way he did some 2,920 times before — with the Daily Presidential Briefing.

It was held in the usual location, which is the Oval Office. And, as is typical, Vice President Joe Biden was in attendance, according to a schedule released by the White House.

The only other thing on Obama's official agenda was a last lunch as president with Biden in the private dining room.

But while the rest of the First Family was bracing and preparing for the Friday departure from what's been their home for the last eight years, Obama still had a country to run.

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"We know he will be spending a lot of time reviewing clemency cases and signing clemency documents," Terry Sullivan of the White House Transition Project told NBC News. "Then there will probably be some administrative things he has to do."

The average work day of a U.S. President is 14 hours a day, seven days a week, Sullivan said. And up to a quarter of that day is spent "taking care of presidential clerkships."

"That means signing a lot of documents," Sullivan said. "It's a vast government. There are lots of things that a president has to review and sign off on."

It's a nostalgic day. The only thing that upsets this routine is friction between incoming and outgoing presidents.
Patrick Maney
presidential historian, Boston College

What else will Obama be doing?

"My guess is he will spend a fair amount of time calling important people in his administration and thanking them for their service," Sullivan said. "He'll probably be calling some members of the Senate to encourage them and to tell them they can count on him to continue fighting for things important to his legacy. That's part of what a leader does."

White House aides told NBC News that Obama has also been calling some key foreign leaders.

One thing Obama is not likely to be doing is doing any serious packing, Sullivan said.

"He's not boxing stuff up," he said. "He's still the leader of the free world."

The contents of the Oval Office will be packed up by workers from the National Archives. Movers will handle the rest while Obama is handing over the reins to Trump at the inauguration on Friday.

But in recent days, Obama has personally packed up some personal items that will travel with him to his new digs some two miles away in Washington, D.C., aides say.

Already the White House feels emptier. Many staffers are gone and most of the photos of Obama, his family and staff that lined the West Wing walls have been taken down as workers prepare for the arrival of Donald Trump.

The First Family will say thanks and farewell to the White House staff at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Two hours later, they will depart via the North Portico and head by limousine to the Capitol.

"It's a nostalgic day," said Patrick Maney, a presidential historian at Boston College. "The only thing that upsets this routine is friction between incoming and outgoing presidents."

For example, Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover barely spoke to each other. Things were also tense between Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. And George H.W. Bush was miffed when the Clintons showed up late for the traditional pre-Inaugural coffee, Maney said.

Obama, however, has gone to great lengths to smooth the transfer of power to Trump, a man who until recently publicly questioned whether the president was even an American.

"What happens tomorrow will be very interesting, " Sullivan said.