CHICAGO (CBS) – A high-ranking Republican friend of President Barack Obama says the nation’s Chief Executive has much to be proud of as he prepares to give his farewell address this evening at McCormick Place.

Most past presidential farewell addresses have been delivered in Washington, D.C., but RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard says Chicago’s an appropriate place for Obama’s last major speech.

“This is where he began, this is where his political instincts were put together,” Dillard said.

Dillard says he sometimes wants to pinch himself when he thinks that he’s friends with the President of the United States, but Dillard and President Obama have been friends since they served in the Illinois State Senate together, and while Dillard said befriending the President was a natural bipartisanship, it did raise some concerns from his GOP colleagues.

“I take a lot of ribbing from my friends, who maybe don’t understand that you can be friends, and you can admire, and you can try to help someone who’s very different than me on a political spectrum, and still never give up your Republican principles.”

The two may differ politically, but Dillard said he and Obama share similarities in their personal lives that reinforced their friendship. Among them, professional wives and two daughters.

“He [Barack Obama] lived the same life, essentially, professionally that I did, and we became friends,” said Dillard. “We did some good things.”

Throughout their time together, they worked on key legislation, including reforming the state’s death penalty system and addressing racial profiling.

Obama will deliver his farewell address to the nation from his home city of Chicago Tuesday evening.

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