What to Expect From President Obama's Farewell Address

What to Expect From President Obama's Farewell Address

President Barack Obama will return to his adopted hometown of Chicago on Tuesday to deliver a farewell address to the American people.

In an email announcing the speech to supporters last week, Obama said the speech would be "a chance to say thank you for this amazing journey … and to offer some thoughts on where we all go from here."

In giving a final speech, Obama is continuing in a tradition first started by the President George Washington in 1796 and continued by many outgoing presidents since. Most recently, President George W. Bush gave a farewell speech eight years ago from the East Room of the White House.

On Monday, the White House said Obama was still deeply involved in crafting and revising the speech, which White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest described on Friday as “forward-looking” and “heartfelt.”

Earnest, who read an early draft of the speech, said the president will “briefly” discuss the accomplishments of his own administration in the speech before turning to offer his thoughts on addressing “the challenges that lie ahead.”

“Most of those solutions, in the mind of the president, rest on the deeply held values that just about every American subscribes to,” Earnest said. “The president believes that obviously, that diversity of this country is a strength. And that for all our differences, there's much more unites us than that separates us. And, our country is stronger when we remember that principle and we draw upon those common values.”

In describing the president’s writing process, Earnest said the president dictates large portions of the speech to his speechwriters, who then work to refine drafts that the president then further revises.

“It is not uncommon for the president to take a typewritten piece of paper, and in his very compact left-handed script, to be including detailed edits on that piece of paper,” Earnest said.

The decision to return to Chicago for the speech is not only because it is his adopted hometown but also because it is significant as the place where his career in service, as a community organizer, began, Obama said.

“The running thread through my career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together in collective effort, things change for the better,” the president said in his weekly address released Saturday.

The speech will take place at McCormick Place and is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET.

The trip will also mark the last time the president is expected to travel outside of Washington, D.C., as president and the final time he will ride on Air Force One.



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