Looking back. President Barack Obama opened up to NBC News’ Lester Holt about his eight years in office ahead of his January 10 farewell address. In a portion of their conversation, which aired on the Friday, January 13, episode of the Today show, Obama, 55, spoke about his decision to address racism in America after nine people were shot to death at a historically black Charleston, South Carolina church in June 2015.
“The truth of the matter is, there are gonna be times where people will listen and times where they won’t. There are times when you got 15 issues and you’ve got to figure out, what am I going to be investing the most effort and energy in,” the president told Holt. “… And this was a moment where I think the entire country recognized not just the evil that had perpetrated, but also this amazing response on the part of these people in this church.”
In previously released clips, Holt and Obama discussed the president’s farewell address in Chicago during his final Air Force One trip on Tuesday. Asked if the speech might be “hard” for POTUS to get through, Obama told Holt, 57, that he just hopes he is able to convey his appreciation for those who supported him throughout his presidency.
“I know what I’m going to say. I got to make sure I get through it properly. You know, when you reflect back on eight years, for all the highs and the lows, the one thing that is a constant is the incredible dedication of the people who got you there and who helped you do your job,” President Obama said. “Everybody from the staff at the White House to the folks who make sure this airplane flies, to the supporters who would write me notes when things weren’t going well to the people who would say that the work we did made a difference.”
He added: “So I think that that sense of gratitude that I feel for those folks, I just hope that I’m able to express that.”
As previously reported, Obama addressed the nation one final time with a touching oration from his hometown of Chicago. In it, the president tearfully thanked his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, for all the love and support she gave him during his two terms.
“Michelle LaVaughn Robinson of the South Side,” he said, speaking directly to FLOTUS, 52, “for the past 25 years, you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for. And you made it your own with grace and with grit and with style, and good 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. You have made me proud, and you have made the country proud.”
In response, Michelle posted a sweet throwback photo of herself, President Obama and their two daughters, Malia, 18, and Sasha, 15, accompanied by a heartwarming message. “So proud of POTUS and all that we’ve accomplished together,” she wrote on Tuesday. “What an incredible journey filled with remarkable people. I love you Barack. – mo.”
The entirety of the commander in chief’s conversation with Holt will air on NBC’s Barack Obama: The Reality of Hope special, Friday, January 13, at 10 p.m. ET.
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