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President Obama will give his farewell address to the nation in prime time on Tuesday, at 9 p.m. ET. White House aides say the speech is coming together, but here’s what we know so far:
‘His intention is to motivate’
“It’s not a victory lap speech,” said Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s longest-serving aides. “His intention is to motivate people to want to get involved and fight for their democracy. You can’t take it for granted. You have to work hard at it. And it’s not easy and you have to be vigilant and determined.”
“The running thread through my career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together in collective effort, things change for the better,” Obama said in a Saturday radio address previewing the speech.
Sweet home, Chicago
The McCormick Place convention center, the largest in North America, will be the venue. It’s less than four miles from Grant Park, the site of Obama’s 2008 victory speech. White House Communications Director Jen Psaki said he decided months ago that he would break with past practice and do his farewell speech outside of Washington. “Chicago was a natural place,” she said.
Cold weather, hot tickets
All the free tickets to the event have been distributed. People stood in zero-degree weather outside McCormick Place for hours Saturday morning for a ticket. By noon, tickets were being offered on Craigslist for $5,000, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
He’s still writing it
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama is still working on the speech, writing out parts of it longhand, dictating passages to speechwriters and then revising. He said it would be “shorter and much different in style” than a State of the Union Address.
“The president’s committed to delivering a forward-looking speech that will examine briefly the significant progress that our country has made in the last eight years,” Earnest said Monday. “But it will take a closer look at — and spend more time talking about — what the president believes is necessary for us to confront the challenges that lie ahead.”
It’s Obama’s last trip as president
Earnest said he expected the Chicago trip to be Obama’s last trip outside Washington as president.
“I think it is likely to be his last Air Force One flight,” Earnest said. Though he quickly clarified it wouldn’t be his last trip on the plane. “It is obviously tradition for the former president to take one last flight aboard the presidential aircraft at the conclusion of the inauguration.”
Contributing: Deborah Barfield Berry and Michael CollinsSource: usatoday