Rice University's Baker Institute celebrates 25th anniversary with former President Obama

HOUSTON – Tuesday was special night on the Rice University campus with a very special attendee: The nation's 44th president, Barack Obama, was the honored guest at a gala celebrating the Baker Institute's 25th year.

"It's good to be back in Houston," Obama said, greeting the crowd. "Congratulations on the Texans' victory yesterday."

Obama took part in a conversation with former Secretary of State and Baker Institute Honorary Chair James Baker. That conversation was moderated by historian Jon Meacham.

The trio covered a wide range of topics, from foreign policy to partisan politics. Obama said he believes the media is playing a role in today's acrid political environment.

"Whether it was Cronkite, Brinkley, or what have you, there was a common set of facts, a baseline around which both parties had to respond to," Obama said.  "By the time I take office, what we see is if you are a Fox News viewer, your reality is dramatically different than a New York Times reader."

The invitation-only crowd listened intently as the former president listed what he was most proud of in his eight years in office. Obama said he believed that regardless of the current political climate the United States still has an important role to play on the world stage.

"We have a stake in making sure that we have our act together enough," he said. "Because everybody else, whether they admit it or not, tends to follow our lead."

Obama told the crowd he was most proud of the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the fact that after eight years in the White House he and his family came out of it with their core values intact.

The Baker Institute and the office of the president also hosted a watch party at the Student Center Grand Hall for Rice students who wanted to watch.

KPRC2's Dominique Sachse sat down with Baker to talk about the celebration of the milestone anniversary and discuss Obama will speak about at the gala, plus problems with the country's current political climate, Baker's take on the southern border and his longtime friendship with late Houston Texans owner Robert McNair.

Watch the full interview below:

About the Authors:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.

Emmy Award-winning anchor, husband, dad, German Shepherd owner, Crossfitter, Game of Thrones junkie, chupacabra hunter.