It was little more than eight years ago and three miles away that Barack Obama embraced the promise of his presidency, addressing a jubilant crowd in Chicago’s Grant Park at a victory celebration on election night 2008.
A political lifetime later, before a sea of supporters at McCormick Place, Obama on Tuesday delivered what is expected to be his final formal address to the nation. His hair was grayer, his tone more somber. And since election night 2016, his message has been aimed at rallying downcast supporters and defending a legacy that his successor has vowed to dismantle.
In his speech, he recited a litany of his proudest achievements, among them the economic recovery from the Great Recession, the diplomatic outreach to Cuba, the nuclear accord with Iran, the death of Osama bin Laden, the extension of health care coverage to 20 million people and more.
“That’s what we did,” he said to cheers. “That’s what you did. You were the change. Because of you, by almost every measure, America is a stronger, better place than it was when we started.”
Still, while Obama is finishing his term with a healthy approval rating — ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s standing by double digits in a Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday — the election of a political nemesis as his successor poses grave risks to what he leaves behind on everything from health care to climate change
He quieted boos from the audience when he noted that a new administration would over in 10 days, lauding “the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next.”
When the crowd chanted “Four more years!” to drown out a protester, he said with a smile, “I can’t do that.”
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Source: USA Today/Susan Page/Joy105.com
Photo: Nam Y. Huh, AP