President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, Nov. 14, 2016.
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, Nov. 14, 2016.

President Barack Obama says good sound bites do not always make good policy, and he says President-elect Donald Trump will find that being in the White House will "shake him up pretty quick."

Obama held his first White House news conference Monday since Trump's stunning election upset over Hillary Clinton last week.

The president already had held a White House meeting with Trump and said he believes the incoming president is not as ideological as people think, and that he will be a pragmatic leader as long as he is surrounded by good people.

Obama Trump
President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016.

Obama said he is leaving the country in better shape than it was when he took power in 2009, when the economy was on the verge of a depression and there were a "huge number of fires" to put out. He said Trump will have the "time and space to make judicious decisions," and that the infamous Trump temperament will not always serve him well.

WATCH: Obama Calls Trump ‘Gregarious,’ ‘Pragmatic’

The president said those who oppose Trump have to recognize that this is the way democracy works. He appealed to them to let Trump make his decisions, saying the American people will judge if they like what they see.

Watch video report from VOA's Mary Alice Salinas:

But Obama said Trump's election — in which total voter turnout was only about 55 percent and Trump lost the popular vote but still won the Electoral College — is a reminder that elections matter and votes count. He wondered aloud how many times the country has to learn that lesson.

WATCH: Obama Talks of ‘Strong, Robust NATO Relationship’

Overseas trip

Obama left Monday on the final planned foreign trip of his presidency, with stops in Greece, Germany and Peru.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the trip is a signal of solidarity with the country's closest allies, and a way to show "support for a strong and integrated and united Europe."

Rhodes said to reporters in previewing the trip that no matter the outcome of the election, Obama and the rest of his administration have a stake in seeing the next one succeed, and that the world also has a similar interest.

WATCH: Obama Stresses Strong Transition

Rhetoric and reality

Trump has repeatedly spoken against international agreements reached during Obama's presidency, including the deal to limit Iran's nuclear program, the international climate deal that went into effect last month, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that has not yet cleared the U.S. Senate.

Obama said during his news conference that Iran is a good example of the "gap between some of the rhetoric and the reality." He said it is easy to call an agreement terrible if you are not responsible for it.

He said the evidence shows Iran has been abiding by the nuclear agreement signed last year with the U.S. and five major allies. He said it would be hard to explain why the deal is being unraveled, and that the U.S. would have to sanction the other countries that would still be a part of it.