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Obama plans to stay in Washington – at least for awhile – after leaving office

President Barack Obama waves as he and his daughter Sasha walk from the White House on December 18 to board Marine One. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
President Barack Obama waves as he and his daughter Sasha walk from the White House on December 18 to board Marine One. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Christi Parsons Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says he plans to stay in Washington after the end of his presidency so that his younger daughter can finish high school with her class, a rare disclosure about his family’s personal plans for the future.

During a visit with voters in Milwaukee on Thursday, Obama said he wasn’t sure where he and wife Michelle Obama would settle down for the long term, but added that they’re putting off the decision until daughter Sasha finishes at Washington’s Sidwell Friends School in the spring of 2019.

“Transferring someone in the middle of high school – tough,” he told a group of people gathered to have lunch with him at a local restaurant. Then he quickly asked a group of White House reporters to step away while he finished his lunch.

Obama said in an interview with Barbara Walters three years ago that he and his family might decide to live in Washington after they leave the White House, at least as long as Sasha Obama remained still in school. Sasha, 14, is now in ninth grade. Malia Obama, 17, will graduate from Sidwell this spring.

Fiercely protective of her family’s privacy, though, first lady Michelle Obama’s office has declined to discuss specific plans. The Obamas have also refused to talk about where they will live after their daughter graduates, spurring speculation that they might not return to her hometown of Chicago, where Obama began his political career. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last month, when asked if he planned to move back to Illinois, Obama said only that he’ll “certainly be spending time here.”

In Milwaukee on Thursday, Obama was relaxing a bit as he met with people who have written him letters to talk about what Obamacare has meant in their lives. They also talked about the weather and life in the Midwest, prompting Obama to remark that he “always feels good being closer to home.”

A woman at the table asked where he would live after he was through being president. Most presidents move back to their home states after they leave office, while some start new lives elsewhere; President George W. Bush went back to Texas, but President Bill Clinton moved to New York so his wife could run for Senate.

“We haven’t figured that out yet,” he said. “We’re going to have to stay a couple of years so Sasha can finish.”

He then urged the pool of reporters to move along, saying, “Get out of here.” It was unclear whether Obama intended to disclose the family’s plans so publicly.

Michelle Obama’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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