The tasks of a newly elected president run from ceremonial pomp to vitally important functions of the Executive Branch. Immediately after being elected, the president-elect starts a crash course in not just how to be president, but in articulating what they'll do in office. They have to handle everything from moving their clothes to mastering the complex system in place for launching nuclear missiles.
Among the things new presidents do are get through the ceremonies of their inauguration, such as their speech and parade, having a last meeting with the outgoing president, swearing in their cabinet, pushing through the first changes they want to make, and maybe most importantly, being given "the biscuit" - the card that contains the codes they'd use to usher in World War III.Here are some of the coolest and most important things new presidents do when they take office.
Read a Note from the Old President
It was always traditional for previous presidents to speak to the newly inaugurated POTUS. Legend has when he left office with the country on the verge of Civil War, James Buchanan told Abraham Lincoln, "If you are as happy, my dear sir, on entering this house as I am in leaving it and returning home, you are the happiest man in this country."The tradition of the outgoing president leaving a note for the new one started with Ronald Reagan, who left a note for his former Vice President, George HW Bush, in the Oval Office desk. It read, in part, "Don't let the turkeys get you down." Most presidents haven't made the contents of their note public, and President Obama has followed that tradition.
Decorate the Oval Office
The new president re-decorates the Oval Office, installing new carpet (the old carpet is moved to the presidential library of their predecessor), new artwork, a new oval carpet, and new drapes. This tradition is fairly new, only starting in the mid-20th Century. Artwork and busts are chosen that reflect the president's heroes and influences - but one thing that usually remains constant is the desk.Only six desks have been used in the Oval Office, with the current desk being the Resolute Desk, given to President Hayes by Queen Victoria in the 1880s. That desk was put into the Oval Office by Jackie Kennedy, toured the country in an exhibition related to President Kennedy, and was brought back by Jimmy Carter.
Move into Your Big New House
The new president and First Family start moving into the White House on Inauguration Day, but their belongings are moved from wherever they live to DC shortly before that. The Secret Service supervises the move, but the president-elect pays for it out of either their personal wealth or campaign funds.Once their possessions are at the White House, the staff takes over, and the whole process takes about six hours. At the same time, the former First Family's stuff is moved out and loaded onto military planes for moving to their new residence. A small transition fund helps pay for the actual move into the White House, though no outside help is hired, for security reasons.
Bring in Their Own Chef
The position of White House Executive Chef is a fairly new one, established in 1961 by Jackie Kennedy during her reorganization of the White House staff. Before that, presidents tended to bring in their own cooks and use French chefs for major dinners. Lyndon Johnson disliked the formal food prepared by the Executive Chef, and brought his own cook from Texas to prepare meals for the First Family. Since then, most presidents have had two chefs - an Executive Chef who stays at the White House from administration to administration, and a personal chef to meet the family's particular needs.