(AP) – Saying it’s “an incredible privilege” to address the group where he began his political career, President Obama appeared before the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield.
Obama’s speech also took place a few blocks where he announced nine years ago that he would make a run for the White House.
Obama thanked the lawmakers “for such a warm welcome” as he returns home.
Obama told lawmakers it’s in Springfield as a state senator that he learned how to work together with others there and forge compromises.
Obama said he remembers his time in the legislature as a time when “we could fight like heck on one issue and shake hands on the next.”
The President reminisced about his days in the Illinois legislature and his first lessons in politics.
Obama says one of his first speeches as young lawmaker was eloquent and passionate and that he was “feeling pretty good” about himself.
Then a party leader came by to throw cold water. Obama says the leader told him, “I think you changed a lot of minds, but you didn’t change any votes.”
Obama says the moment was his first lesson in humility.
Obama also told lawmakers that people around the country are turned off by the current “poisonous political climate” in the U.S.
Obama criticized gerrymandering and joked it’s the reason “why our districts are shaped like earmuffs or spaghetti.”
Before his address, Obama stopped by the Feed Store to pick up some barley soup and take selfies with customers. It’s a restaurant he frequented during his time as a state senator in Springfield.
(Photo: AP/Jeff Roberson)