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Obama to cash in $400,000 for investment firm speech

Former President Barack Obama is back in the public life, and already, he’s getting criticism, this time for accepting a speaking engagement that will net him $400,000.

The speech will be given at a health care conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald in September, and many are criticizing Obama for taking money from Wall Street for the speech, though his spokesman, Eric Schultz, argued that Obama is speaking because health care is an issue close to his heart. Schultz also pointed out that Obama had taken speech money from Wall Street before and still went on to regulate it.

“I don’t think that former presidents necessarily take vows of poverty, or should,” said David Axelrod, one of Mr. Obama’s closest advisers. “Will he be out there doing good? I think he will be. I watched him for eight years devote every ounce of his energy and thought and attention to the service of this country. I hope that he does find some personal time and solace and enjoyment now. He’s earned it.”

–Barack Obama delivers first post-presidency speech in Chicago–

But to be sure, Obama is hardly the first former president to cash in big dollars after the leaving the White House. Former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan all earned speaking fees well in the six-figure range.

Still, the president has been raising eyebrows since leaving the White House with things like a lavish vacation in the Pacific Islands as well as a nine-bedroom home in Washington valued at $6 million, which many say is a direct contradiction of what he told students at the University of Chicago on Monday: “If you’re more concerned with ‘I want to be a congressman’ or ‘I want to be a senator’ or ‘I want to be rich,’ some people may succeed in chasing that goal, but when they get there, they don’t know what to do with it.”

Either way, Obama’s back, and we know he’s got plans to keep fighting.


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