Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Obama prepares for a busy retirement, more freedom

Published:Thursday | January 19, 2017 | 1:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP):

For Barack Obama, there's a presidential library to build, hundreds of millions of dollars to raise, causes to champion, and a book to write. And don't forget that long-promised vacation with his wife.

Looming retirement is looking like anything but for the 44th president.

Obama's next chapter starts tomorrow, when he becomes an ex-president. He'll be freer to speak his mind, set his own schedule, and make some money.

Already, Obama is looking ahead to the book he wants to write, and has had talks with Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel about arrangements that could include speaking gigs.

At 55, Obama will be a relatively young ex-president, with plenty of time for a second act. He's ruled out running another campaign for political office - so has his wife - but he has pledged to stay active in the national conversation.

DEMS WANT SHADOW-PRESIDENT

With President-elect Donald Trump headed to the White House, Democrats are eager for Obama to play the role of shadow-president, offering direction to those Americans who feel they lost their political compass the day Trump was elected.

Obama has said he has plenty of ideas for how his party can revive itself, but after eight years as president, his role will be to offer guidance, not to micromanage.

"I think it's appropriate for me to give advice, because I need some sleep," Obama told NPR last month. "And I've promised Michelle a nice vacation. My girls are getting old enough now where I'm clinging to those very last moments before they are out of the house."

Obama is expected to keep a low profile for the first few months after Trump's swearing-in.

Following some relaxation time with his wife and daughters in an unnamed location, the family will return to Washington, where they've rented a mansion in the upscale Kalorama neighbourhood.

Obama has repeatedly praised George W. Bush for giving him room to operate without having the ex-president publicly second-guess him at every turn. Still, Obama has reserved the right to speak out against Trump if he pursues policies the president finds particularly odious, such as a ban on Muslim immigration or mass deportation of children brought to the US illegally.