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After months of quiet travel, Obama to speak in Chicago

Posted at 10:01 PM, Apr 23, 2017

NEW YORK — Three months after leaving the White House, former President Barack Obama will deliver his first public remarks of his post-presidency.

Obama is slated to speak with young leaders on Monday in his adopted hometown of Chicago. The event at the University of Chicago is billed by his office as a “conversation on community organizing and civic engagement” and a part of Obama’s goal to “encourage and support the next generation of leaders.”

The former President wanted to have an event where he could speak directly to young people, a source close to Obama told CNN. Three hundred students from universities around the Chicago area were invited to attend the event.

Obama will take the stage with six students, and while they will ask questions of one another, they are not expected to take questions from the audience, the source said.

The 44th president’s public appearance will also come just days ahead of the 100-day mark for President Donald Trump. A spokesperson did not say whether Obama plans to address specific current events, but the highly anticipated gathering will provide an opportunity for him to weigh in publicly on his successor’s first months in office.

A source also said Obama does not intend to confront Trump on policy.

One issue that is clearly on the former President’s mind: The ongoing Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, his landmark health care law. He defended the Affordable Care Act on its seventh anniversary last month, saying in a statement: “Health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for everybody.”

On Sunday, Obama spoke at a roundtable discussion with young men from the Chicago Create Real Economic Destiny program, which aims to provide job skills and positive connections to at-risk youth. He made that appearance at the invitation of the program’s founder, Arne Duncan, who was education secretary under Obama.

“President Obama listened to the young men’s stories and shared some of the challenges that he faced growing up,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said. “He expressed that he was optimistic about their potential to positively contribute to their communities and support their families because of the services provided in the program.”

For the most part, Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama have stayed clear of the public spotlight since leaving the White House. The former President has been spotted playing golf and vacationing on a private island in the Caribbean, but his schedule has been kept tightly under wraps.

The Obamas are penning memoirs, landing a deal with Penguin Random House that could yield them tens of millions of dollars. The couple plans to live in Washington until their younger daughter, Sasha, graduates high school in 2019.

Obama is also slated to appear with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in late May and is due to accept an award in Boston prior to tha.