Sketch: The First Puppy and Nancy Reagan provide light relief

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The Independent US

Will there be one mutt or two in the White House come 20 January? The First Puppy which President-elect, Barack Obama, promised his children on election night is now "the most pressing issue for the Obama household".

At his first press conference since his election and with his full economic advisory team around him, Mr Obama revealed that it wasn't unemployment or the economy generating the most interest on his website – it was the puppy.

Getting a suitable dog was proving as tricky as making appointments to his new administration. His preference was to adopt a dog from a shelter, but "a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me," he said, and his daughter Malia's allergies had to be considered.

Mr Obama is finding that words and flip remarks matter now that he is President-elect. He revealed at the conference that to prepare for taking office he had "obviously" consulted the former president Bill Clinton and that he had spoken to "all of them that are living" adding, "I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any séances".

His reference to Mrs Reagan's séances as First Lady (she consulted an astrologist to determine her husband's schedule) triggered an explosion of internet comments that he was being disrespectful – Mrs Reagan is now 87 and recovering from a broken hip.

Mr Obama has however been channelling his political hero, Abraham Lincoln. "I have re-read some of Lincoln's writings, who is always an extraordinary inspiration," he said.

"And, by the way, President Carter, President Bush Snr, as well as the current President have all been very gracious and offered to provide any help that they can in this transition process."