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18 Jan 2017 8:16
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  •   Home > News > International

    President Barack Obama prepares to make farewell address in Chicago

    After eight years as President of the United States, Barack Obama will take the stage to make his farewell address as leader today.

    After eight years as President of the United States, Barack Obama will take the stage to make his farewell address as leader at 8:00pm (local time; noon AEDT).

    Mr Obama will return to his home town of Chicago today to give a final farewell address to the nation

    The outgoing President will give his final address at the McCormick place Convention Centre near the shore of Lake Michigan to a much smaller crowd than the 240,000 people who gathered in the city for his history victory speech in 2008.

    He is expected to use today's address to look back at the progress America has made in the last eight years, and share his thoughts on what the country needs to do to meet future challenges.

    His top policy achievements were jolted by the November 8 election of Donald Trump, who has threatened to undo Mr Obama's actions on issues ranging from advancing healthcare reform to curbing climate change.

    Mr Obama will talk about how his experience in Chicago — at the start of his political career — taught him that change happens from the grassroots.

    "I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life," Mr Obama is set to say, according to excerpts released by the White House.

    "It was in neighbourhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss."

    First lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, his wife, Jill Biden, and many current and former White House staff members and campaign workers are expected to attend the speech.

    "The President is not one to be overly sentimental, but given the circumstances, I think it would be unrealistic to expect anybody to not feel some nostalgia for this moment," his spokesman, Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with Mr Obama.

    Even the final trip on the presidential aircraft was a moment tinged with wistfulness. It was Mr Obama's 445th trip on the presidential aircraft, a perk he has said he will miss when he leaves office.

    All told, he will have spent more than 2,800 hours or 116 days on the plane during his presidency, Mr Earnest said.

    Mr Obama has said he planned to reflect on his administration's achievements in his address, encouraging supporters to keep fighting for issues like the environment, gay rights and economic equality.

    Mr Obama will vacate the White House in 10 days when his successor Donald Trump is inaugurated.

    Mr Obama plans to remain in Washington for the next two years while his younger daughter, Sasha, finishes high school.

    He has indicated he wants to give Mr Trump the same space that his predecessor, Republican President George W Bush, gave him after leaving office by not maintaining a high public profile.

    In the days leading up to the address, crowds braved the cold, lining up at McCormick Place in the early hours of the morning in the hope of getting their hands of a ticket to the historic address.


    © 2017 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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