To say the two men brought incredibly different approaches to the presidency is a dramatic understatement. Throughout his two terms, Obama governed with a deep respect for government institutions and overall stability. Although he came into office with a strong mandate from the 2008 election, his political temperament led him to seek out compromise positions with Republicans from the outset. As president-elect, he placed two Republicans in his Cabinet and nearly secured a third, which would have been an unprecedented level of bipartisanship.
Obama’s legislative agenda was likewise crafted with an eye to bipartisanship. A third of his economic stimulus package was dedicated to tax cut proposals, many of them previously advanced by Republicans, while his plan for health care reform drew in equal parts from Mitt Romney’s program in Massachusetts and the Republican alternative to Bill Clinton’s health care initiative in 1993.