US President Barack Obama says in his farewell address that in 10 days the world will witness the peaceful transfer of power to a new president, drawing some jeers ahead of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Obama says he committed to Trump that his administration would “ensure the smoothest possible transition” just as his predecessor, President George W. Bush, did for him.
The outgoing president says in Chicago “it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.”
President Obama used his farewell speech in his home town Tuesday to defend his imperiled legacy and press a broad, optimistic vision for the country that seems more divided than ever.
“Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody,” he said.
“For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.”
Obama has sought to rise above the rancorous politics of the past few months and the stunning presidential election that resulted in the defeat of his chosen successor and a Republican sweep of Congress. When chants of “Four more years erupted from the crowd, he responded: “We can’t do that.”
He celebrated the impending inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president: “In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next,” Obama said.
“I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.”
Harkening back to his time spent as a community organizer in Chicago, the president declared, “This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.”
Most recent presidential farewell addresses have been delivered from the quiet of the Oval Office – a venue that Obama has rarely used during his presidency. Instead he spoke before a crowd of 20,000 at McCormick Place, one of the largest convention centers in the country and the site of his 2012 campaign victory address.
In that speech Obama promised a cheering crowd of supporters that “the best is yet to come.” The president, whose approval rating has surged even as his party’s fortunes have suffered, sketched a similar optimistic vision.Here are the live updates:
• Upping the ante against traditional US rivals, Obama criticises “bullies” China and Russia. Rivals like Russia and China cannot match our influence across the world unless we give up what we stand for, says POTUS.
“Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.”
• When minorities protest, they’re not demanding special treatment but equal treatment that our forefathers promised: POTUS
• Obama quotes Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird while talking about race.
“Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. We’re not where we need to be... If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants...we diminish the prospects of our own children”
• He dives right into the contentious healthcare issue, saying: “If anyone can make a better healthcare system, I will support it.” President-elect Donald Trump had in his presidential campaign promised to scrap Obamacare.
• After reiterating his efforts to ensure a smooth transition for the incoming Trump administration, Obama says everyone is in this together.
• Obama lists out US’ achievements in the last 8 years. At the time of his exit, Obama has a 55% approval rating.
“Yup that’s what we did... America is a better, stronger place than we started.”
• As the crowd chants, “4 more years! 4 more years!”, Obama says: “I can’t do that.”
• We the people, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union, Obama says at the Chicago convention centre.
“Yes our progress has been unequal. The work of democracy has been hard... but the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion.”
• In his usual style, Obama calls himself a ‘lame duck’ because nobody listens to him after the crowd didn’t stop cheering.
• US President Barack Obama arrives on the stage for his farewell speech.
• “Hello Chicago, It’s good to be home” are Obama’s opening words to a cheering crowd.
• Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder performs at the McCormick Place convention centre in Chicago, ahead of Obama’s farewell address.
• US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk off Air Force One in Chicago.