Political leaders and young voters in deep-blue Massachusetts praised President Obama Tuesday night after he delivered his farewell address in Chicago.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the city and the nation will miss Obama, who remains in office for 10 more days until the inauguration of Republican President-elect Donald Trump.
“From the Affordable Care Act to protecting the LGBT community, working to fight climate change and implementing policies that help working class families, President Barack Obama has changed this country for the better,” Walsh said in a statement. “He embraced our strengths, understood our weaknesses, and, as he did tonight, reminded us time and time again of the ties that bind us together. His ideas, his ideals, and his heart will continue to positively impact this country for a very long time.”
The president briefly referenced Trump’s upcoming inauguration in his speech, saying the world will witness the nation’s peaceful transfer of power during the Jan. 20 ceremony.
Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican who said he did not cast a vote for president in November, lauded Obama’s commitment to that transfer in a statement released by a spokesman.
“Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor [Karyn] Polito are grateful for President Obama’s service to our country and for his commitment to the peaceful and orderly transfer of power on behalf of the American people,” said Billy Pitman, Baker’s press secretary.
But another Massachusetts Republican, state GOP chairwoman Kirsten Hughes, strongly criticized Obama’s speech.
“The president did an admirable job papering over his abysmal record tonight: broken promises, scandals, and a disastrous foreign policy,” Hughes said in a statement. “Fortunately, the country will turn the page in 10 days and look forward with confidence to a new Republican administration that will deliver for the American people.”
At Tavern In The Square in Cambridge’s Central Square neighborhood, Obama supporters who gathered to watch the speech gave the president high marks.
“His presidency has been an inspiration to a lot of people,” said Jamal Ibrahim, 29, of Brockton. “The American dream is a hope for liberation and freedom and I think he
really put a stamp on [that]. And he is proof that that is true. For everyone, not just a small group of people.”
Ivan Wambe, 19, of Lexington, praised Obama for promoting a message of “solidarity and common ground.”
“As a black boy just seeing Obama get elected told me that anything is possible,” Wambe said. “It also represented a new chapter for the African-American community.”
A number of additional tributes poured in on social media, moments after the president concluded his 50-minute remarks.
“President Obama is a good man who has made our economy, country, & planet safer — & has given us hope,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat whose name has been floated as a possible candidate for the White House in 2020, in a tweet.
She added in a Facebook post that Obama provided key support for the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she said the financial industry tried to kill.
“But we had a powerful champion on the inside — someone who passionately believed that we needed to help level the playing field for working families,” Warren wrote. “That leader was President Obama, and I’ll never forget it.”
Her words were echoed by her fellow senator from Massachusetts, Edward J. Markey, who tweeted, “It’s been an honor to fight for all Americans, the [Affordable Care Act],
#ActOnClimate & to work with President Obama to better our country. #ObamaFarewell.”
Back at the Central Square tavern, one supporter, 18-year-old Rory Liddy of Arlington, felt too much was expected of Obama when he took office.
Despite that, Liddy said, “I feel like things changed a lot more. I think his legacy will be one of the best intentions.”
Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com.