WASHINGTON (WLS) -- President Barack Obama held his last official press conference Wednesday as his days as commander in chief near an end.
He began his final White House news conference with complimentary words for the journalists who work there.
"Having you in this building has made this place work better," Obama told the press corps.
As he met the White House press corps for the final time, Obama took a not-so-subtle shot at President-elect Donald Trump, who almost daily expresses disdain for the news media.
"America needs you and our democracy needs you," Obama said.
And to Trump's suggestions that he might lift sanctions against Russia, or reverse U.S. policy opposing Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the outgoing president made a general statement.
"If you're going to make big changes in policy, make sure you've thought it through," he said.
President Obama defended his decision announced Tuesday to reduce the federal prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army officer convicted of leaking classified information.
"The sentence that she received was disproportionate relative to what other leakers have received," Obama said.
Obama would not criticize Democratic lawmakers who plan to boycott Trump's inauguration on Friday and predicted future African-Americans, minorities and female president would hold the nation's highest office.
"I think we're going to see people of merit rise up from every race faith corner of this country because that's America's strength," Obama said.
But he described himself as worried by effort to restrict voting rights, calling reported voter fraud incidents "fake news."
At the end, Obama remained an optimist, expressing hope when he finished answering his final question as president.
"At my core I think we're going to be okay. We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it and not take it for granted," Obama said.
Obama said he looks forward to spending private time with his wife and daughters. He'll do some writing and said he looks forward to not having to hear himself talk so much.
Obama expresses hope at final press conference as president: 'We're going to be OK'
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA