Obama’s first appearance since presidency
It ends a three-month period of relative silence since Obama left office on Jan. 20, much of which he has spent on vacation in Palm Springs, Calif., on a Caribbean island with English billionaire Richard Branson and at an exclusive resort in French Polynesia.
Obama will participate in a town hall-style discussion with young people on “community organizing and civic engagement” at the University of Chicago, near the site of his planned presidential library.
“This event is part of President Obama’s post-presidency goal to encourage and support the next generation of leaders driven by strengthening communities around the country and the world,” his office said in a statement.The event is the beginning of Obama’s reentry into public life. He is scheduled to travel to Boston next month to accept the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. The former president will also meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, a visit that coincides with President Trump’s first overseas trip to a NATO summit in Belgium.
The Chicago town hall comes just days before Trump’s 100th day in office.
But people close to the president say that Obama isn’t expected to use his events to go after his successor, even after Trump accused the former president, without evidence, of wiretapping him during the presidential race and blamed him for a series of foreign crises.
“It’s not in anyone’s interest … for [Obama] to become the face of the resistance or narrate the Trump presidency,” one person said earlier this month. “He’s acutely aware that when he speaks, he sucks up all the oxygen, and that suppresses the next generation of leaders from rising.”
Obama has indirectly gone after Trump on several occasions, issuing statements praising protests against his travel ban and defending the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans attempted to repeal last month.
The former president has also dipped his toe into international politics, phoning French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.
Macron is the top challenger to Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front Party, in the country’s presidential election, the first stage of which takes place Sunday.
Trump allies, including chief strategist Stephen Bannon, have praised Le Pen and her anti-immigration views.
Obama wished Macron the best during the call, which the French candidate posted to his Twitter account. But Obama’s office said it did not amount to an endorsement.