The setting - where Obama got his political start - has been in the works for months, officials say
WASHINGTON –President Barack Obama will go home to say goodbye.
Obama will give his farewell address Tuesday night in his hometown of Chicago, playing part in a tradition dating to George Washington of giving farewell addresses to the nation.
The speech won’t be a victory lap, nor will it be a political attack on his successor, President-Elect Donald Trump said Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, but instead will be a reflection on his time in office and a call to action to voters to “get involved and fight for Democracy.”
“I don’t think the speech about President Trump,” Jarrett said. “It’s about the American people and their responsibilities as citizens and what they can do.”
She said those themes echo what he campaigned on back in 2008.
“Hope and change isn’t about one man,” she said. “It’s about everyone.”
Jarrett, briefing reporters with White House Communications Director Jen Psaki Monday, said much of the content of the speech is to be seen: Obama was still writing it as of Monday and Psaki said he plans to owrk on it through the night.
But the setting – Chicago, where Obama got his political start – has been in the works for months. Psaki said when White House staff proposed him giving a farewell speech six to eight months ago, one of his first questions was whether it would have to be in the White House.
“Chicago is a natural place for him, not only because it’s his hometown but because it’s where he got his political start,” said Psaki.
Even if Obama were inclined to tout his achievements, many might be short-term: Republican Trump and the Republican led Congress have plans to undo many of his initiatives, including his signature bill, the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
He’ll give the speech at McCormick Place in Chicago in front of a crowd that will include veterans of his 2008 and 2012 elections. Some tickets were made available to the public for free; scalpers are selling some for as much as $5,000 online. Obama gives his speech just 10 days before he’ll leave office. Already, some White House staff are packing up and they’re even taking the photos of the Obamas off the walls.
The Obamas, Jarrett said, plan to take a vacation after he leaves office, but will settle into a house in northwest Washington until their youngest daughter graduates from high school. Obama will also set up two offices: One for his foundation and one for his post-presidential work.
Obama himself plans to be an “interested citizen” but may become involved in issues including redistricting and the My Brother’s Keeper program, a mentoring initiative aimed at helping young black men, Psaki said.