Obama To Make First Public Statement Since Leaving White House
Ending a three-month period of silence since he left the White House on Jan. 20 – much of which was spent on vacation in Palm Springs, Calif., on a Caribbean island with English billionaire Richard Branson and at an exclusive resort in French Polynesia – former president Barack Obama will make the first public appearance of his post-presidency on Monday when he speaks at an event in his hometown of Chicago, his office said.
According to a statement issued by his office, Obama will participate in a town hall-style discussion with young people on “community organizing and civic engagement” at the University of Chicago, near the site of his planned presidential library. “This event is part of President Obama’s post-presidency goal to encourage and support the next generation of leaders driven by strengthening communities around the country and the world,” his office said in a statement.
The event is the beginning of Obama’s reentry into public life, the Hill notes.
The Chicago town hall comes just days before Trump’s 100th day in office, but according to sources cited by The Hill, Obama isn’t expected to use his events to go after his successor.
“It’s not in anyone’s interest … for [Obama] to become the face of the resistance or narrate the Trump presidency,” one person said earlier this month. “He’s acutely aware that when he speaks, he sucks up all the oxygen, and that suppresses the next generation of leaders from rising.”
Still, Obama has indirectly gone after Trump on several occasions, issuing statements praising protests against his travel ban and defending the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans attempted to repeal last month.
Obama is also scheduled to travel to Boston next month to accept the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. He will also meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, in a visit that coincides with President Trump’s first overseas trip to a NATO summit in Belgium.
Yesterday, the former president also dipped his toe into international politics, phoning French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, the top challenger to Marine Le Pen and the favorite of Europe’s pro-status quo establishment. In the past, Stephen Bannon, have praised Le Pen and her anti-immigration views. According to a statement, Obama wished Macron the best during the call, which the French candidate posted to his Twitter account. But Obama’s office said it did not amount to an endorsement, perhaps remembering the impact of his “endorsement” for the anti-Brexit forces last summer.