As his time in office approaches an end, President Obama has periodically dropped hints of his post-presidency plans, from aspirations to own a stake in an NBA team to returning to the classroom to lecture.
Continuing his historic trip to Laos, where he’s the first U.S. president to visit, Obama shed light on his agenda after he leaves office, discussing some of the goals of his presidential center, as well as future work for first lady Michelle Obama.
“In my own work as an ex-president, I'm hoping to continue working with young people through my presidential center,” Obama said during a Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative town hall meeting at Souphanouvong University in Luang Prabang. “And so one of the components I've discussed with my team is how I can continue to interact with the YSEALI alumni and we can share ideas and I can continue to meet with you and we can work on projects together.”
Obama pledged to “continue to stay involved” with the YSEALI program but said the initiative will continue to run through the State Department.
“I’m confident that it will continue to do great things,” he said.
Asked what Michelle Obama planned to do after her time at the White House, Obama said she will expand the scope of her nutrition and education programs.
“My wife, I think, will continue to work on nutrition issues, but you know, she’s going to probably be more involved internationally as well as domestically more than she has been, now that our girls are getting older,” Obama said.
“She can travel more. It used to be that she didn't like going too far away for too long because she wanted to make sure the girls were doing their homework and acting properly, but now that they're almost grown — Malia, she's leaving, and Sasha, she'll be gone soon as well — I think you’ll see Michelle work on these issues more internationally than she has.”
The president promised to return to Laos after he leaves office.
Building on his announcement Tuesday about the expansion of the Let Girls Learn education initiative, Obama said he is adding a women’s leadership academy for YSEALI. He also announced the launch of a website, EnglishForAll.state.gov, to send more teachers to countries around world.
Turning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-nation trade pact known as the TPP, he predicted it will be ratified — perhaps as soon as the lame duck session of Congress begins after Election Day. He said it's “the right thing to do.”
“You know, we’re in a political season right now, and it’s always difficult to get things done,” Obama said. “Congress isn’t doing much right now. They’re all going home and talking to their constituents, trying to get re-elected. So after election, I think people can refocus attention on why this is so important.”