The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

President Obama's farewell speech - live updates

Last Updated Jan 10, 2017 9:57 PM EST

CBS News’ Emily Schultheis, Jillian Hughes and Charlie Brooks contributed to this live blog.

9:55 p.m. ET Mr. Obama concluded by quoting the slogan for his first campaign, “Yes We Can.”

“I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents, that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists, that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice, that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon, a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written,” he said. “Yes we can. Yes we did. Yes we can.”

9:52 p.m. ET Thanking his staff and the legions of volunteers who helped his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Mr. Obama said: “You did change the world.”

“To all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anybody could hope for, and I will be forever grateful,” he said. “Because you did change the world. You did.”

9:50 p.m. ET Mr. Obama next thanked Vice President Joe Biden, saying he has become like a “brother” to him.

Biden, “the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first decision I made as a nominee, and it was the best,” he said. “Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother.”

9:47 p.m. ET Wiping back tears, Mr. Obama thanked his wife and two daughters.

“For the past twenty-five years, you have been not only my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend,” he said to Michelle Obama, sitting in the audience. “You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and with grit and with style and with humor.  You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model.”

To his daughters, Sasha and Malia, Mr. Obama said he has watched them become “amazing young women.”

“Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion,” he said. “You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily.  Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.”

9:43 p.m. ET Mr. Obama said the most important title in a democracy is that of a “citizen” -- and laid a blueprint for how people can continue to be involved in safeguarding American democracy.

“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with one of them in real life,” he said. “If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere.”

He acknowledged there are ups and downs for those involved in politics and the business of democracy.

“Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process will disappoint you,” he said. “But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed. Mine sure has been.”

9:38 p.m. ET Americans cannot and should not take democracy for granted, Mr. Obama said.

“Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted,” he said. “All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions.”

Among the issues he raised were expanding voting rights, increasing transparency in government and reversing electoral gerrymandering that’s contributed to increasing polarization in Congress.

9:36 p.m. ET Mr. Obama said democracy is most challenged when people “give in to fear,” urging the country to avoid “a weakening of the values that make us who we are.”

“That’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing,” he said. “That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties.”

“That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans,” he continued, to applause. “That’s why we cannot withdraw from big global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, and women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem. That’s part of defending America. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression.”

9:33 p.m. ET Next, Mr. Obama turned to the issue of terrorism -- both at home and abroad.

“Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years,” he said. “And although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. 

“The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory,” he continued. “ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe.”

9:31 p.m. ET Nodding to the issue of climate change -- on which Mr. Trump is a self-described skeptic -- Mr. Obama said it is essential that the U.S. continue its progress.

“In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet,” he said. “But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.”

Pretending the problem doesn’t exist “not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country,” Mr. Obama continued.

9:28 p.m. ET Mr. Obama urged people to find ways to keep from “talking past each other.”

“Isn’t that part of what so often makes politics so dispiriting?” he asked. “How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? 

“It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating,” he continued. “Because as my mom used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.”

9:26 p.m. ET Another threat to American democracy, Mr. Obama said, is people’s collective retreat into their own “bubbles.”

“The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable,” he said. “And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.”

9:23 p.m. ET Mr. Obama also spoke about the racial tensions still plaguing the country, which have been put on display in recent months with clashes between the police and the African American community.

“After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America,” he said. “Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.”

While progress has been made, he continued, “we’re not where we need to be.”  

“All of us have more work to do,” Mr. Obama said. “After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.”

9:21 p.m. ET As congressional Republicans debate their options for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama noted the progress that’s been made on health care -- and challenged Republicans to come up with something better.

“Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in fifty years,” he said. “And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.”

9:19 p.m. ET Mr. Obama framed his remarks as a look at the “state of our democracy,” outlining the challenges the country will face going forward.

“A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but they’re testing our democracy as well,” he said. “And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.”

9:14 p.m. ET Acknowledging the tradition of a peaceful transition of power, Mr. Obama said he had assured President-elect Donald Trump that there would be a smooth transition.

“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,” he said, to boos from the audience. “I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.”

9:13 p.m. ET In a nod to his legacy, Mr. Obama said the U.S. is “a better, stronger place” than it was when he took office.

“If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high,” he said. “But that’s what we did. That’s what you did.”

9:09 p.m. ET Mr. Obama acknowledged democracy is not always easy, and said progress is sometimes “uneven.”

“Yes, our progress has been uneven,” he said. “The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. 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.”

9:04 p.m ET Mr. Obama was met with loud, sustained cheers when he took the stage. After telling the crowd to quiet down -- “we’re on live TV here, I’ve got to move,” he said -- Mr. Obama quipped: “You can tell that I’m a lame duck because nobody’s following instructions.”

9:02 p.m. ET President Obama takes the stage at McCormack Place in Chicago. “Hello Chicago,” he said. “It’s good to be home.”

6:35 p.m. ET When he takes the stage tonight, President Obama will talk about how his youth in Chicago helped show him the way to effect real change in the United States, according to speech excerpts released by the White House.

“I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life,” he will say. “It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. 

“This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it,” Mr. Obama will continue. “After eight years as your President, I still believe that.  And it’s not just my belief.  It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government.”

1 p.m. ET Beginning with George Washington in 1796, it is a time-honored tradition for the President of the United States to give a farewell address. President Obama will continue that tradition on Tuesday when he speaks in Chicago at McCormack Place at 9 p.m. ET.


CBSN coverage of Obama’s farewell speech begins at 7 p.m. ET


According to Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, Dennis McDonough, he chose Chicago because “this is a place where working on the South Side of Chicago and the neighborhoods … in the shadows of the abandoned steel mills, as a community organizer with people who had been knocked out of jobs that theretofore had been real paths to the middle class, that he recognized that he had a gift for organizing.”

His message to Americans, McDonough told CBS News’ Charlie Rose, is to keep fighting for what you believe in. 

“He had a gift for getting people working together towards the same goal. And I think that’s what you’ll hear a lot about from the president tomorrow, the importance of sticking together, working together, standing up for what you believe in, and then fighting like hell for it.”  

Vice President Joe Biden and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Mr. Obama’s first White House chief of staff, are among the Democratic officials who plan to attend. 

Mr. Obama’s address also has some heavyweight musical talent in the lineup -- Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder will be be performing with Voice of Chicago, according to a tweet.

You can watch the speech at 9 p.m. on CBSN and CBS, among other broadcast and cable news channels.