Obama's Speech To State Legislature Unique

Feb 10, 2016

Credit npr.org

Nine years after he came to Springfield to announce he was running for President, Barack Obama will return to the state capitol Wednesday. He'll address Illinois representatives and senators at the statehouse.

Obama will be only the fourth sitting president to speak before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. President William Howard Taft did it in 1911, Herbert Hoover in 1933, then Jimmy Carter in 1978.

"It's an honor for me to be here with you, in this historic place, from which has come so many profound statements and deliberations in the history of our country, and from which perhaps came the greatest leader who's ever lived in the President's house," Carter said.

Director of the state archives David Joens says Obama's visit is not only rare, but especially unique.

For one, Obama used to be a member of the Illinois Senate. And unlike Taft, Hoover, and Carter -- who all gave their speeches before running for a second term, Obama has no campaign ahead.

"He doesn't have to worry, obviously, about reelection," Joens says. "He can talk about whatever he wants. There's not a political edge."

Joens predicts Obama will have something in common with the Presidents of the past -- like them, he says, Obama's sure to mention Abraham Lincoln.