Karen Caifa, CNN - (CNN) - It was a speech before the democratic national convention in July, 2004, that put an obscure state senator from Illinois on the fast-track, to the white house.
On Tuesday night, President Obama will cap eight years of speeches, as commander-in-chief, as consoler-in-chief, and campaigner-in-chief.
So Tuesday's farewell message, a tradition that dates back to George Washington, will be watched for how the president frames the past and, especially, the future.
Michael Cornfield, George Washington university said, "He has an opportunity to tell Americans one last time while president how should you behave as a citizen, what should you do, what are your responsibilities, what should you look out for."
Michael Cornfield of the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management has a specialty in rhetoric. He says the president has multiple options for tone and tenor, whether to mention his successor, and how to address his democratic party after November's losses.
The president was still deep into writing his address on Monday afternoon, said to be crafting not a policy speech, and not a contrast speech.
Cornfield says there's just one guarantee, about what Americans will hear Tuesday night, "About the only the only thing I'm certain of is there will be some sort of call for unity that's what you do when you leave. You remind people that they are all Americans."
A farewell speech to be delivered in an unconventional setting, away from the political confines of the nation's capital. Instead, in the president's hometown of Chicago, where his path to the white house began.
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