A top adviser to President Obama on Thursday said the president would take some time off after leaving the White House but then go “right back to working hard” to advance his political agenda.
In a wide-ranging interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett said Obama “wants to continue to be a force for good” and “will speak out when he thinks his voice can move the needle.”
The president will want to “make a difference, and be an inspiration for those who are looking for positive change in our country,” Jarrett said.
Jarrett added that the 55-year-old Obama was still a “young man” with a long public life ahead of him after leaving the presidency. Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, was 62 when he stepped down in 2009.
Jarrett, who has known the president and Michelle Obama for nearly three decades, has served as a senior White House adviser for all eights years of Obama’s presidency.
She did not rule out running for public office after leaving the White House. “I still want to continue to work on issues that I care a great deal about and to be as helpful as I can,” she said.
Jarrett also touched on President-elect Donald Trump’s potential impact on Obama’s legacy, arguing that repealing the Affordable Care Act without having a replacement plan would be a mistake.
“I really look at the Affordable Care Act through the lens of the many, many people across our country who I’ve had the privilege of meeting, many who would not be here, were it not for the Affordable Care Act,” she said.
Jarrett also discussed Obama’s legacy on race relations, a topic the president addressed in his farewell speech in Chicago last Tuesday.
“It takes time to change our culture. And it’s a work in progress,” she said. “Simply electing an African-American president doesn’t suddenly make our country post-racial.”
Still, Jarrett argued the country made progress under Obama. “By every single possible metric you can think of,” she said, “I think our country is moving forward.”