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How The White House Prepares For The Next President

Former White House staffer Anita McBride reveals what goes on behind the scenes on Inauguration Day.
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How The White House Prepares For The Next President

On Inauguration Day, all eyes are predictably on Capitol Hill as the president-elect takes the oath of office. But people generally don't see all the work behind the scenes to make his new home livable the second he's sworn in.

Anita McBride was Laura Bush's chief of staff at the end of her tenure as first lady, so McBride has seen the organized chaos firsthand when the White House changes residents.

"There's the traditional Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugurals that will escort the outgoing president of the United States and vice president from the White House with the president-elect and the vice president-elect. And when they leave the White House approximately around 11 a.m. to head up to the Capitol, then the orchestrated chaos, and the ballet, as we like to call it, is going on behind the scenes in the residence," McBride said.

White House staffers have a tight window to clean and get everything ready for the new commander in chief.

"There is about a six-hour period, maybe a little less than that, to clean the house, pack up the outgoing president's belongings and unpack those belongings that have been brought down by the first family," McBride said.

Although there are new politicians, the people who make living at the White House possible will stay the same.

"These are the 100 people who serve administration to administration, and their sole responsibility is the care and feeding of the president and the first family. These are the painters, the electricians, the housekeepers, the cooks, the pastry chefs," McBride said.

And though first lady Melania Trump won't move into the White House until later, she'll have an important role when she gets there.

"Every first lady — past, present and future — cares most about the sanctuary around their family life and protecting that private time and keeping children grounded if they're living in the White House and providing a comfortable home life for the president. Because arguably, every single problem in the world comes to the desk of the American president, but at night, he gets to go home and be with his family," McBride said.