President Obama delivers farewell address tonight

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - 05:15

President Barack Obama's farewell address at McCormick Place, Chicago on Tuesday night is not intended as a victory lap, but a call to action to the next generation of leaders, White House officials said.

"It's a passing of the baton," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a group of reporters on the eve of Obama's last speech to the nation.

The speech is set for 8 pm at the lakefront convention center.

Planning began last summer, when Obama, Psaki and other top advisers were mapping out the final months of his eight years in office. She said when Obama was told that previous presidents had delivered farewell remarks, he asked aides if the speech had to be delivered from Washington.

"Chicago was a natural place for him, not just because it's hometown," Psaki said, "but because it's where he got his political start, and it's where he really first learned the lesson … that it's about the actions of individuals and the actions of people, that's how real change happens."

Psaki and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett briefed reporters Monday from the White House Roosevelt Room, which is where they broached the final speech idea with the president. It was Jarrett who said "it's not a victory lap speech."

"His intention is to motivate people to want to get involved and fight for their democracy," Jarrett said. "The major focus on the speech isn't going to be reflecting back on how far we've come over the last eight years, but really looking forward and how we take the accomplishments, many (of which) through the hard work and grit of the American people came to fruition, and build on that going forward."

The president is looking forward to new people stepping up, whether they run for office, volunteer for a school board or tutor children after school, Jarrett said.