President Obama's Speechwriter Relishes the Last 8 Years - NBC Chicago
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President Obama's Speechwriter Relishes the Last 8 Years



    President Obama's Speechwriter Relishes the Last 8 Years
    Pete Souza/The White House
    President Barack Obama works on his immigration speech with Director of Speechwriting Cody Keenan and Senior Presidential Speechwriter David Litt in the Oval Office, Nov. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    A nap is in Cody Keenan’s near future. But first there are a few things left to be said, beginning with the President’s farewell address in Chicago.

    By the middle of last week, the first draft of the speech was done, said the President Obama’s top speechwriter, Cody Keenan.

    A Chicago native, Keenan is winding down eight years in the White House and a couple more on the campaign trail with Barack Obama.

    "It’s been an incredible eight years and it's bittersweet," he said during an interview in the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House.

    Keenan was raised in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood and Evanston, and graduated from Northwestern University.  

    In the summer of 2007, he joined the nascent Obama presidential campaign.

    Today he is the President’s principal speechwriter, a job that ends January 20th with the inauguration of Donald Trump.

    Over the course of a decade, Keenan has written approximately 3500 speeches, marking times of utter joy and unspeakable sorrow.

    Like the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and the administration’s effort to enact new gun laws.

    "And we used the bully pulpit, especially after Newtown to get Congress to do something that 90% of Americans agree on and it didn’t happen,” he said.

    But, along the way, many good things did happen for Keenan at the White House.

    "I met my wife here," he noted.  "I met my best friends here. We’ve done a lot of good and I wouldn’t trade any of it."

    As the clock ticks toward the inevitable end, Keenan says the President is wistful at times and practically parental to those who have been with him from the start.

    After nearly a decade together their only big disagreement has been over baseball.

    Obama: a White Sox fan.
    Keenan: a Cubbie, who took his Dad to game three of the World Series and his sister to game 5.

    “I couldn’t ask for anything more than what happened this season,” he said. Working for the President and a World Series win.

    “That’s change you can believe in,” he said.

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