Former President Barack Obama will deliver the first public remarks of his post-presidency here in his adopted hometown of Chicago on Monday, three months after handing off the baton to President Donald Trump. The 44th president is slated to speak with young leaders at an event at the University of Chicago, billed by his office as a "conversation on community organizing and civic engagement" and a part of Obama's goal to "encourage and support the next generation of leaders."
Obama's highly anticipated public appearance comes just days ahead of the symbolically significant 100-day mark for Trump — a milestone that one Obama adviser insisted is "far from his mind." But while the ex-President does not intend to directly confront or take swipes at Trump, he does plan on being forthcoming — if asked — about where he stands on specific policy matters, including areas where he and Trump clearly disagree, a source said. Issues at the top of Obama's mind these days include Obamacare, foreign policy and climate change, an adviser said.
In the final stretch of the 2016 election, Obama actively campaigned for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. More than five months after Clinton's loss, Obama is still not interested in taking center stage on politics, an adviser told CNN. "He's going to be more of an adviser behind the scenes and not necessarily be in the forefront right now," the adviser said. "At a given time, when it's appropriate and necessary, he'll be out there. But not right now."
Obama is also sensitive to creating space for and supporting his former administration officials in their new endeavors, including former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who is working to mentor young leaders, and former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is focused on redistricting.
Monday's event at the University of Chicago came together because of Obama's desire to speak directly with young people, a source close to the former President said. Three hundred students from universities around the Chicago area were invited to attend the event. While Obama will take the stage with six students and have a dialogue with the group, he is not expected to take questions from the audience.
On Sunday, Obama spoke at a roundtable discussion with young men from the Chicago Create Real Economic Destiny program, which aims to provide job skills and positive connections to at-risk youth. He was invited to participate by Duncan, the program's founder.
"President Obama listened to the young men's stories and shared some of the challenges that he faced growing up," Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said of Sunday's conversation. "He expressed that he was optimistic about their potential to positively contribute to their communities and support their families because of the services provided in the program."
For the most part, Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama have steered clear of the public spotlight since leaving the White House. The former President has been spotted playing golf and vacationing on a private island in the Caribbean, but his schedule has been kept tightly under wraps.
The Obamas are also busy working on their memoirs after landing a deal with Penguin Random House that could yield them tens of millions of dollars. The couple plans to live in Washington until their younger daughter, Sasha, graduates high school in 2019. Obama is also slated to appear with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in late May and is due to accept an award in Boston prior to that.
Date Posted: Monday, April 24th, 2017 , Total Page Views: 1544
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