Obama split on location of presidential library
February 22nd, 2013
08:25 AM ET
9 years ago

Obama split on location of presidential library

(CNN) – He holds a strong association with both places – Hawaii is his birthplace and winter retreat, but Chicago is his adopted home and where his children were born.

And on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said he's still not sure which location would be the home of his presidential library.

"Honolulu is my birthplace," Obama said on an interview with Honolulu station KITV. "It's the place where I grew up and I've got so many friends and fond memories and it helped to shaped me. I'd like to find a way after my presidency that connection remains, but I live in Chicago now and that's where I grew up professionally."

"It is a tough choice, but it's not one that I've made yet," Obama said. Reports in the last year have indicated that Obama's team is looking at space for a presidential library in Chicago, including near the University of Chicago where he taught before entering politics.

Universities have housed presidential libraries in the past, including the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library on the campus of Texas A&M in College Station.

But the University of Hawaii has also made no secret of their desire to house Obama's presidential library, and the Aloha State's legislature passed a resolution in 2010 calling on Obama to choose his birthplace for the institution. An official committee of business and civic leaders - the Hawaii Presidential Center Initiative - was formed to try and lure the president back to the islands.

Obama acknowledged those efforts in his interview.

"Folks back home, back in Hawaii, have been very generous in talking about how much they'd like to figure out a way to participate post-presidency and I'm flattered by that and I'm going to look at every option," he said.

No matter where the library lands, it will likely cost north of $100 million, based on the whopping costs of past presidents' libraries. The money comes from private donations.

The libraries have the potential to become major tourist draws, particularly for an historic presidency like Obama's. While Chicago's central location would make a library more accessible to Americans, Hawaii is already a major tourist destination that millions of mainlanders visit every year.

Filed under: Hawaii • President Obama
soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. Kentucky Burbon

    Please have it here in Kentucky, so that Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul will have to live with it forever!!!

    February 22, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. rs

    It's just a bad day for you isn't it? Reality just won't play by your rules: your party is in flames, and it's about commit war on the American Economy and you guys won't win an election at the national level for about 10 years.

    February 22, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. VEW2012

    I say Hawaii...Illinois has Lincoln.

    February 22, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. don in albuquerque

    @freedom–Bill Clinton was doing what, kind of like at the same time Newt was doing the same thing but going after Clinton for being an evil man, and another GOTPer was going after little boy aides? Bush was warned an attack was coming and did nothing. As far as keeping us SAFE for seven years, why not go stand in front of any one of the thousands of American, Afgan, and Iraqui men women and childrens graves, and ask them if they feel safe. You cannot hide or rewrite history. W will go down in history as a monster.

    February 22, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    Tough decision because both places offer an advantage. To all the haters: at least he'll have one. Can you say the same?

    February 22, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. simplyput

    I say a book mobile called Barak Mobile and put it any Chicago alley you choose. Move it around from what's left of cities across the country. Blah, Blah, the ceiling's off your Harvard.

    February 22, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Expat American

    I say build it in Hawaii. That way, for future generations it can serve as a permanent symbol and reminder of Republican Birther and Tea Party racism.

    February 22, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. ps

    why do he go and live in Hawaii. Oh I know why, he will have to pay for it once he is no longer Pres. The taxpayers wont have to pay for their family and friends vacation no more.

    February 22, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Denny


    Still four years away, but I guess we can just dream of the day he is out of office.
    For sure. I'm waiting for the dream because right now it's been a nightmare with our current 'Campaigning in Chief'.

    February 22, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. Joe

    How about he finish being president first?

    February 22, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. Martha in CF

    I hope Obama keeps his library in Illinois. Not everyone is fortunate enough to travel to Hawaii. And it would be Ok, I think, to have his library in Illinois too. Good to have Lincoln and Obama sharing the same state......

    February 22, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Obama Sequester - His idea, his signature, he owns it

    If he puts it in Chicago, people will need to carry weapons to go there. The city is a war zone to rival any on the planet. Those strict gun control laws sure have helped solve the problem.

    February 22, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Put it closest to where the crayons are.

    February 22, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. put it here

    any of these locations would be a good place. they define his presidency.

    City and Locality Bankruptcy Filings (7):
    - City of San Bernardino, Calif.
    - Town of Mammoth Lakes, Calf. (Dismissed)
    - City of Stockton, Calif.
    - Jefferson County, Ala.
    - City of Harrisburg, Pa. (Dismissed)
    - City of Central Falls, R.I.
    - Boise County, Idaho (Dismissed)

    February 22, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Okay, he's undecided. I know this much, though. Newt Gingrich would have had his built on the moon.

    February 22, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. King

    Put it in Hawaii, because that will drive Donald Trump and his orangutans crazy. I have watched them kill the GOP, now let them watch us get along without it.

    February 22, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. simplyput

    Expat, your're probably right. An island is a good place for a tsunami and Hawaii is totally unaccessible to all but the expats who've sheltered their money from this fraud. Then there's Indonesia for a Barry Mobile, if you prefer, but who do you think will be able to read by then? Put the library on a Nook-Mobile to put this president's accomplishments into perspective.

    February 22, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Got it! He should put his library on the site of that Sensata plant that Bain Capitol closed up last fall. Eh?

    February 22, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. don in albuquerque

    My, my, my, the kitty cats have their claws out today. Be nice if they had even a shred of truth to line their litter box with. Pity the GOTP. Soon to be swept away like passing wind.

    February 22, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  20. Tony in Maine

    Whatever location he chooses, the rightwingnuts are already warming up the snarky comments and spreading insane rumors about turning St. Peter's Basillica into parking for it.

    February 22, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Hugh Jass

    Wherever they put it, Ted Nugent will stand outside and cry until he wets himself. What a bunch of huge babies these "Republicans" turned out to be! They have no interest in our country until the black man is finished being president, and we have no interest in letting these disinterested bums help pick the next one. Move on, Republicans. Find another country where there are no black men, and move there. Or admit that democracy worked and the winner is sitting in the WH right now, and get back to work.

    February 22, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    @Mickey Mouse: How about including the presidential daily brief that warned GW of 9/11 that he ignored? Or the blank page that served as an occupation/exit strategy in Iraq? Or the stack of unemployment insurance claims the 800,000 a month were filing in GW's last months in office? Or how about an endless video loop of GW saying he didn't know where bin Laden was and frankly didn't care?

    Regarding the 40,000 new regulations; please cite your source (and "Rush said it" doesn't qualify).

    February 22, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. Hugh Jass

    "these locations . . . define his presidency" No, that's your Favorite Boy, Dubya who killed the economy. You were in the 8th grade then, right? Let the grownups talk now, sugar.

    February 22, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  24. Bobby Bankston

    Hawaii is going to go all out to try and land this thing because they really need it to bring money into the state. I mean, what else does Hawaii have to draw tourists?

    February 22, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. Mike H.

    A location that defines his presidency?
    Bland, Missouri.

    February 22, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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