President Barack Obama will bid the nation farewell on Tuesday, leaving behind two terms served and one the most contentious legacies in modern political history.
The 44th president will deliver his parting speech from his hometown of Chicago where over 20,000 people are expected to crowd into McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America where Obama delivered his acceptance speech after defeating Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.
Although this will only be the 10th presidential farewell speech in U.S. history, Obama will be the first president to deliver his goodbye remarks from his hometown. Facing a low approval rating, George W. Bush delivered his final primetime speech from the East Wing of the White House to a crowd of 200.
Riding a wave of historically high approval ratings throughout his last year in the Oval Office, the president is expected to tie in major unifying themes of the past eight years during which he's held tenure in the White House.
"The President is primarily delivering a message to the American people, all Americans, whether they voted for President Obama or not," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said of the impending speech on Monday. "The President feels an obligation to talk about what he's learned of the last eight years, what he's learned about the country, what he's learned about governing the country, and offer up his advice to the American people about the most effective way to confront the challenges that we see ahead."
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Obama has reportedly been planning this speech for months. Like most of Obama's keystone remarks, the president is writing the address himself -- dictating themes and passages to chief speechwriter Cody Keenan, who then types up a draft. The president and Keenan have reportedly gone through at least four drafts of the speech -- which has reportedly received input from former speechwriter Jon Favreau and former senior adviser David Axelrod.
According to Gleaves Whitney, author of "American Presidents: Farewell Addresses to the Nation, 1796-2001," the other presidents who have delivered a distinct farewell address are George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
In a Jan. 15, 1953 address, President Truman asked the American people to reflect on the tough nature of the presidency, saying, "I want all of you to realize how big a job, how hard a job, it is -- not for my sake, because I am stepping out of it -- but for the sake of my successor."
In 1961, President Eisenhower reflected on the country's evolving role in the global order, saying, "America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment."
An Orator to Remember
Despite calls from the Donald Trump Administration and a GOP-led Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, do away with the Clean Power Plan that regulates Co2 emissions from power plants, and take sharp turns away from the Obama Administration's platform, one irrevocable element of the president's legacy will be on full display on Tuesday night -- his ability to move masses with the power of oratory speech.
In 2008, it was "Yes we can," and the resounding reminder that, "In the unlikely story of America, there has never been anything false about hope."
In 2012, a shift "forward," and a unifying commitment that, "We are an American family and we rise and fall together as one nation, as one people."
"The best is yet to come," he exclaimed.
In 2016, as America closes its chapter on one commander in chief and starts anew with the next, President Obama will undoubtedly leave the nation with a final presidential speech to remember for years to come.
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