Former President Barack Obama says that taking selfies with fans when he goes out is almost as bad as the isolation of living in the White House, which he said was kind of like a nice prison.
Mr Obama, when asked what he doesn’t miss about being president, chuckled before saying that the security apparatus around an American president makes it difficult to live any semblance of a normal life.
“The burdens of leadership are true in any country but in part because of the security apparatus around a US president, you live in what is called a bubble. It is a very nice, uh, prison,” Mr Obama told an interviewer during a trip to Milan this week.
“So you don’t have the freedom of movement to be able to just take a walk or to sit in a cafe because there’s always this security concern around you,” he said. “I don’t miss that.”
Mr Obama joked that, while he doesn’t have the same security in the post presidency, he’s still not quite as liberated as he was before becoming president.
“Now I’m only captive to selfies. So, I — which is almost as bad — I can walk anywhere as long as I’m willing to take a selfie every two steps,” he said.
Mr Obama is in Milan this week on his first public foreign trip since leaving the White House. He used his appearance in Italy to defend the importance of the Paris climate change agreement, which he played an important role in negotiating and which is on the chopping block under his successor Donald Trump.
“During the course of my presidency, I made climate change a top priority because I believe that of all challenges that we face, this is the one that will define the contours of this century, more dramatically perhaps than any other,” he said.
The former president isn’t the only Obama to have described the White House as a prison. Michelle Obama hit the headlines for saying that living in the White House has prison-like qualities in 2013 during an event in which she also said being a first lady was a great job because she can work on issues she’s passionate about.
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