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Obama Plans Farewell Speech Next Week in Hometown, Chicago

  • Ken Bredemeier

FILE - President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 27, 2016.

U.S. President Barack Obama says he will deliver a farewell address next week, reflecting on the successes during his White House tenure and offering his thoughts on where the country heads as President-elect Donald Trump assumes power January 20.

In an email to supporters Monday, Obama said the January 10 speech in his hometown of Chicago is "a chance to say thank you for this amazing journey, to celebrate the ways you've changed this country for the better these past eight years, and to offer some thoughts on where we all go from here."

The 55-year-old president said, "Since 2009, we've faced our fair share of challenges, and come through them stronger. That's because we have never let go of a belief that has guided us ever since our founding -- our conviction that, together, we can change this country for the better."

His speech will follow a longstanding tradition for U.S. presidents, started by George Washington in 1796, of addressing the nation as they leave office.

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama depart Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam upon the conclusion of their vacation on Oahu in Hawaii, Jan. 1, 2017.
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama depart Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam upon the conclusion of their vacation on Oahu in Hawaii, Jan. 1, 2017.

Back in Washington

Obama returned to Washington Monday from his annual Christmas vacation in the island state of Hawaii, where he was born and spent much of his youth. In his last two and a half weeks in office, aides say Obama is likely to grant more clemencies to imprisoned drug offenders whose sentences he thinks were too harsh and possibly issue more executive orders to try to lock in policies he favors and that Trump opposes.

While Obama, a Democrat, has sought to ease the Republican Trump's transition to power in a one face-to-face meeting and several phone calls, he also has taken actions that have frustrated the incoming president. Obama has issued new orders to block ocean oil drilling off U.S. shorelines, declared new national park monuments and further emptied out the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama also for the first time ordered his United Nations ambassador to allow a Security Council resolution to pass that criticized Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and imposed sanctions on Russia for Moscow's computer hacking during the U.S. presidential campaign, with both actions in direct conflict with Trump.

FILE - Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington.
FILE - Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Meeting with Congress

Obama is meeting Wednesday with Democrats in Congress in an effort to to devise a strategy to protect his signature domestic achievement, national health care reforms that Trump and Republican lawmakers have vowed to quickly repeal, even though they have yet to agree on what replacement policies they plan to adopt.

When he becomes a private citizen, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are moving to a Washington home not far from the White House and plan to stay there until their younger daughter Sasha finishes high school in 2019. He is the first president in nearly a century to stay in Washington after leaving office.

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