Democracy Dies in Darkness

Politics

From ‘fake media’ to Clinton, Trump brings political attacks to the Scout Jamboree

By John Wagner, Jenna Johnson

July 25, 2017 at 9:05 AM

Watch more!
In a speech at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, President Trump said Washington, D.C., is a “sewer.” (The Washington Post)

Ahead of President Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build the wall" and "lock her up."

But from the moment he took the stage, Trump — who was never a Scout himself but touted his role as the "honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America" — started leading them down a very different path.

Over the next 35 minutes, the president threatened to fire one of his Cabinet members, attacked former president Barack Obama, dissed his former rival Hillary Clinton, marveled at the size of the crowd, warned the boys about the "fake media," mocked pollsters and pundits, and said more people would say "Merry Christmas" under his presidency. He also told a rambling tale about a famous, now-deceased home builder that meandered from a Manhattan cocktail party to a yacht and then to places that the president would only allow the boys' imaginations to go.

In response to a backlash following the speech, the Boy Scouts distanced itself Tuesday from Trump's remarks. In a statement, the organization said it is "wholly non-partisan and does not promote any on position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy." It added, without mentioning Trump's name, that inviting "the sitting U.S. President" to visit the Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and "is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies."

The speech was, in fact, very much like the rally speeches that Trump gave across the country last year, although he sprinkled in some pieces of inspirational advice ("Do something you love") and reflections on Boy Scout values ("We could really use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.").

Watch more!
Donald Trump won the presidential election. Yet, since Nov. 8, Trump has tweeted about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton many times. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

Related: [Trump’s Boy Scouts speech broke with 80 years of presidential tradition]

Trump was joined by former Scouts who serve in his Cabinet, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The latter wore a Scouting outfit for the occasion. "Ryan is an Eagle Scout from Big Sky country in Montana," Trump relayed.

As the president's speech continued, Perry appeared to grow bored as he stood behind Trump, chatting with others, flipping through a book and then filming a video of the crowd. Not invited on the adventure: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an Eagle Scout whose day job appears in jeopardy in Washington.

Trump began the official address, delivered from a lectern with the presidential seal, by pledging to talk about things loftier than politics.

"Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C., you've been hearing about with the fake news," the president told the crowd of Scouts and volunteers gathered in Glen Jean, W.Va. "Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts?"

But before long, Trump dived into the politics of the Republican health-care bill, which could die if it doesn't clear a key procedural vote on Tuesday. Trump pointed to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who has been tasked with selling the legislation.

"Hopefully he's going to get the votes tomorrow," Trump said, emphasizing the importance of overhauling the Affordable Care Act, which he called "this horrible thing that's really hurting us."

As chants of "USA! USA!" broke out, Trump asked Price: "By the way, are you going to get the votes? You better get the votes. Otherwise, I'll say, 'Tom, you're fired.' "

Trump also slipped in a reference to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, one of the Republican holdouts on moving forward with the bill, which would leave up to 22 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026, according to estimates.

"You better get Senator Capito to vote for it," the president told Price.

At another point, Trump marveled at the more than 30,000 Scouts who had gathered for the Jamboree, although he acted as if they were there just for him and not for a regular event attended by seven other presidents.

"What do you think the chances are that this incredible, massive crowd, record-setting, is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero," Trump said as the Scouts yelled out answers and "CNN!" "The fake media will say . . . 'President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.' That is some crowd. Fake media! Fake news!"

Trump smiled and applauded them, then said: "By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a Jamboree?"

"Nooooo!" the boys roared back in a sound that seemed to turn into booing, apparently not giving Obama credit for sending a video message to the 2010 Jamboree.

Before departing, Trump took time to relive last year's election, chiding Clinton for not working hard enough in several Midwestern states.

"Boooo!" the boys roared.


John Wagner is a national political reporter covering the White House.

Jenna Johnson is a political reporter who covers the White House. She spent more than a year writing about Donald Trump's presidential campaign, traveling to 35 states to attend more than 170 political rallies and interview hundreds of Trump supporters.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

You obviously love great journalism.

With special savings on our Basic Digital package, you’ll never miss a single story again.

Already a subscriber?

Secure & Encrypted