Donald Trump

Former Scouts, Organizers React to Trump’s Politicized Speech

Members of the non-partisan Boy Scouts of America took to social media to address the speech

President Donald Trump's appearance at a national Boy Scout event hit a nerve with many former scouts and parents of scouts after his speech turned political. The organization responded to the backlash by stressing its non-partisan roots.

At the Boys Scouts of America's National Jamboree in West Virginia on Monday, the president brought up issues such as health care, "fake media," and "the swamp" in Washington.

Many in the crowd of 40,000 scouts, leaders and volunteers booed when Trump asked whether former President Barack Obama had come to a Jamboree. Video clips also showed them jeering Hillary Clinton after Trump said that his election opponent "didn't work hard" in Michigan. The scouts also chanted "we love Trump." 

Former scouts and parents took to social media to express opposition to the politicized speech.

The Boy Scouts of America's Facebook page was inundated with comments about Trump on posts both about and unrelated to the Jamboree.

User Beth Mitchell Huntsberry commented, "The BSA should immediately lose their tax exempt status. I will no longer be associated with the organization. My time and money will go elsewhere."

"No, I am the proud mother of a former scout who was sheltered from that pack of lies speech at the Jamboree. Done with scouts after you felt the need to have my kid listen to a liar stroke his ego on our time," said Jude Nevans Cleaver, another Facebook commenter.

Some drew comparisons between the president's speech in front of the Boy Scouts and his campaign-style rallies. 

National Scout Jamborees are typically held every four years and Trump is the eighth president to attend, The Associated Press reported. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were Boy Scouts, while Trump was not a member of the organization. Obama, a former member of the Indonesian Scout Association, addressed a 100th anniversary event in 2010 by video.

Pete Souza, a White House photographer for Obama during his presidency, posted an Instagram photo following Trump's speech showing his former boss meeting a cub scout. 

In a statement in response to the backlash, the Boy Scouts of America noted that the organization is non-partisan. They said that inviting the sitting president to the National Jamboree is a "long-standing tradition."

"The Boy Scouts of America is wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies."

The statement added that the "sitting U.S. President serves as the BSA's honorary president. It is our long-standing custom to invite the U.S. President to the National Jamboree."

The White House has not responded to a request for comment.

CORRECTION (July 25, 4:16 p.m. ET): The article misidentified the scouting organization that former President Barack Obama belonged to. He was a member of the Indonesian Scout Association, not the Boy Scouts of America.

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