Obama Mum on Trump in His First Address Since Leaving Office

“I’m spending a lot of time thinking about what is the most important thing I can do for my next job?” Obama said.

Former President Barack Obama used his first public appearance since leaving office to dole out advice to young people on leadership, managing social media and even marriage. What he didn't do was mention his successor.

At a forum Monday for students at the University of Chicago, adjacent to where his presidential library will stand, Obama talked about his formative experiences as a community organizer and as a young politician running for office in Illinois. But for much of the panel event, he listened.

The 55-year-old Democrat, who ended his two terms at the White House in January – handing power over to Donald Trump – said he was "incredibly optimistic" about the future, and that problems facing America could be solved.

“On the back end now of my presidency, now that it’s completed, I’m spending a lot of time thinking about what is the most important thing I can do for my next job?” Obama said in his opening remarks at the University of Chicago, where he once was a lecturer at the law school.

"What I'm convinced is that... the single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can to prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world."

When a college student panelist asked how to conduct a project involving interviewing day laborers, Obama told him to ditch the clipboard. When others asked about being young in the age of social media, Obama advised them to limit photos posted online, including being "more circumspect about your selfies."

He also dropped in a marital tidbit, saying it’s best to “listen to understand” instead of listening “to respond”. “I learned that in marriage,” he said to laughs from the audience. “That’ll save you a lot of heartache and grief.”

Until Monday, Donald Trump's Democratic predecessor had not given a public speech or an interview since leaving the White House on 20 January.

He has tweeted a few times and issued a few statements through a spokesman, notably to defend his signature domestic policy achievement, health care reform — which Trump's Republicans are now hoping to dismantle.

Obama also spoke up when his billionaire successor accused him of personally ordering the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.

But for now, he has abstained from any substantive commentary on how Trump is doing, in keeping with presidential protocol which dictates that past residents of the White House do not step on the toes of the current occupant.

That silence comes in the face of accusations by Trump on everything from Syria, with the Republican all but accusing Obama of bearing responsibility for chemical weapons attacks by the Damascus regime, to gang violence in America.

(With inputs from AP and PTI)