President Donald Trump made quite the scene at the Boy Scouts of America’s quadrennial Jamboree this week when he went off on a tangent about the lack of loyalty he’s received in Washington, and basically urged 35,000 some-odd Scouts to pledge their own loyalty.
“As the Scout Law says, a Scout is trustworthy, loyal,” Trump said while delivering a speech at the jam-packed celebration Monday, July 24, in West Hope, Va. “We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.”
Over the course of the nearly 40-minute address, the president managed to gripe several times about the so-called “fake news” being reported, brag about his electoral college win from last November, threaten to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and even encouraged the assembled youths to loudly boo former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, The Daily Beast reported.
“Tonight, we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C., you have been hearing about with the fake news,” Trump said. “We’re gonna put that aside and instead, we are going to talk about success.”
The former real estate mogul promised to stay off the topic of politics, but soon wandered straight into speaking on the matter — and about himself, of course.
“Do you remember that famous night on television, on November 8?” Trump asked the crowd at one point, referencing his election night victory. Frenzied chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” bellowed out around him as he asked, “So you remember that incredible night — with the maps?”
At another point in his speech, the president stated that 10 members of his Cabinet were former Scouts, unlike himself. One of those members was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump had failed to bring along with him on the trip or even mention his name during the lengthy speech, CNN reported. Trump did make time to throw a few jabs at Obama for not making an in-person appearance at the Jamboree during his presidency, however.
“By the way, just a question — did President Obama ever come to a Jamboree?” he said, stretching out his hands to elicit boos from the crowd of teens and preteens.
A recent blog post on the BSA’s website noted that Trump was the eighth of 11 sitting presidents to make an appearance at the Jamboree, while Pres. Obama made a video appearance in 2010.
In addition to his earlier antics, Trump later hinted at firing Secretary Price if Congress failed to repeal and replace Obamacare. All of this happened whilst Price awkwardly took the stage alongside the president.
“Are you gonna get the votes? He better get them,” Trump told the Scouts as Price stood nearby. “He better get them. Oh, he better! Otherwise, I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired.’ I’ll get somebody.”
The president went on to brag about the “record-setting” crowd that likely wouldn’t be broadcast on TV that night and wound up telling a long-winded and irrelevant anecdote about real estate developer William Levitt.
Though the youthful crowd cheered on the president as he spoke, Trump’s speech garnered less-than-positive reactions from the Scouts’ parents. The BSA’s Facebook page was flooded with comments Monday from parents outraged by the politically charged address.
“I am the proud mother of a former scout who was sheltered from that pack-of-lies speech at the Jamboree,” one Facebook user wrote. “Done with the Scouts after you felt the need to have my kid listen to a liar stroke his ego on our time.”
Another parent, Liz Shopes, agreed, writing, “… This is not enough! They need to denounce what [Trump] said. Also, the head of the BSA, who is also head of AT&T, needs to step down.
The Boy Scouts of America has since issued a statement on the matter.
“The Boy Scouts of America is wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one political position, candidate or philosophy. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a longstanding tradition dating back to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937. Since then, an invitation to speak has been extended to every U.S. President that has had a Scout Jamboree occur during his term.”