Former President Barack Obama wrapped up his first public appearance since leaving the White House having achieved a feat rare in public life in 2017: He didn’t mention President Donald Trump once.
During the President’s discussion with students and young adults at the University of Chicago, he outlined his top priority post-presidency, to “help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world.”
And though the bulk of his time on stage was ceded to the young people seated on either side of him, who spoke about their own public service and asked Obama questions, the former President did take time during one response to urge his audience to reach across familiar political boundaries, recalling his campaigning for president in Iowa.
“It’s retail politics,” he said. “You’re going door-to-door, you’re just talking to people. And we didn’t have a huge amount of money, particularly, initially, for TV ads, so it was just meeting people. And that does change people’s assumptions, when they get a chance to know somebody directly. So part of what we’re going to have to figure out is how do we create greater opportunities — now, that’s true between red parts of the state and blue parts of the state. It’s true even within the city of Chicago.”
It recalled Obama’s broad farewell address to the nation on Jan. 10, in which he urged the country to build a national “solidarity” and argued that, “for all our outward differences we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important office in the democracy: Citizen.”
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