President Obama: Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear

President Barack Obama's last speech as president in Chicago on Jan. 10, 2017. (NBC News)
President Barack Obama's last speech as president in Chicago on Jan. 10, 2017. (NBC News)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on President Barack Obama’s farewell speech (all times CST):

8:45 p.m.

President Barack Obama is thanking his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha for sacrificing for his political dreams.

He’s noting in his farewell address that his partner for the past 25 years took on a role she didn’t want and made it her own with “grace and grit and style and good humor.” He says the first lady is a role model who turned the White House into a place that belongs to everybody.

Obama tells his wife that she has made him and the country proud. Obama paused for a few seconds and pressed his lips together to regain his composure while thanking the first lady.

Only 18-year-old Malia traveled to Chicago for the speech, but Obama says both daughters “wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily.”

He says that of everything he’s done in life he’s most proud to be their dad.


8:40 p.m.

President Barack Obama says in his farewell address that protecting the nation’s way of life is the job of citizens as well as the military.

Obama says in Chicago that “democracy can buckle when we give in to fear.”

He is also making a reference to President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign calls for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the United States.

Obama says he rejects discrimination against Muslim Americans, and he is drawing cheers for saying they are “just as patriotic as we are.”

The outgoing president says the U.S. can’t withdraw from global fights to expand democracy, human rights and the rights of women, gays and lesbians.


8:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama says talk of a post-racial America after his 2008 election may have been well-intended, but it “was never realistic.”

Obama — who is 55 years old — says in his farewell address that he’s lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 30 years ago. But he says he also knows “we’re not where we need to be.”

He says every economic issue can’t be framed as a struggle between hardworking middle-class whites and undeserving minorities, and says forsaking the children of immigrants will diminish the prospects of American children.

Obama says hearts must change. He quotes the hero of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch, who said that to understand a person, it helps to “climb into his skin and walk around in it.”


8:25 p.m.

President Barack Obama is acknowledging that “stark inequality” is corrosive to the nation’s democratic principles, a nod to the economic uncertainty that helped Republican Donald Trump win the White House last November.

Obama says in his final speech as president that too many families in inner cities and rural counties have been left behind. He says many are convinced that the “game is fixed against them” and government only serves powerful interests.

The president calls that a “recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.”


8:15 p.m.

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.”

Obama says the nation’s politics need to reflect “the decency” of the American people.


8:10 p.m.

President Barack Obama is opening his farewell address in his hometown of Chicago, thanking thousands of supporters and reaffirming his belief in the power of change.

Obama was harkening back to the message of his first campaign for president in 2008.

At one point, he was interrupted by chants of “Four more years!”

Obama says, “I can’t do that.”

In the aftermath of Republican Donald Trump’s election as the next president, Obama is acknowledging that the nation’s progress has been “uneven.” He says that for “every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back.”

But the president says the country strives for “forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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