President Trump has been in rare form in recent days — most notably attacking his own attorney general and repeatedly lashing out on Twitter. But on Monday evening, he did something that was more subtly controversial and strange: He delivered a highly political speech at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. Appearing in front of a group of Boy Scouts, Trump turned it into something akin to a campaign rally, complete with attacks on Hillary Clinton and the media, a push for the GOP health-care bill, and even another apparent swipe at Jeff Sessions.
It was unlike anything we've seen from a president in 80 years of them giving speeches to the Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday morning distanced themselves from the spectacle, emphasizing it is “wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy.” It defended its invitation of Trump as the sitting president and said the event was “in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies.”
So what exactly did Trump say? Below is the full transcript from the White House, with our highlights and annotations. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. (Applause.) I am thrilled to be here. Thrilled. (Applause.) And if you think that was an easy trip, you’re wrong, but I am thrilled -- 19th Boy Scout Jamboree -- wow -- and to address such a tremendous group. Boy, you have a lot of people here. The press will say it’s about 200 people. (Laughter.) It looks like about 45,000 people. You set a record today. (Applause.) You set a record. That’s a great honor, believe me.
Tonight, we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. -- you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. (Applause.) We’re going to put that aside. And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams. What to think of -- what I’ve been thinking about -- you want to achieve your dreams. I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right? (Applause.)
There are many great honors that come with the job of being President of the United States, but looking out at this incredible gathering of mostly young patriots -- mostly young -- I’m especially proud to speak to you as the honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
TRUMP: You are the young people of character and integrity who will serve as leaders in our communities, and uphold the sacred values of our nation.
I want to thank Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, Jamboree Chairman Ralph de la Vega, and the thousands of volunteers who have made this a life-changing experience for all of you, and when they asked me to be here I said absolutely, yes. (Applause.)
Finally, and we can’t forget these people, I especially want to salute the moms and the dads and troop leaders who are here tonight. (Applause.) Thank you for making scouting possible. Thank you, mom and dad -- troop leaders.
When you volunteer for the Boy Scouts, you are not only shaping young lives, you are shaping the future of America. (Applause.) The United States has no better citizens than its Boy Scouts. (Applause.) No better. The values, traditions, and skills you learn here will serve you throughout your lives, and just as importantly they will serve your families, your cities, and in the future and in the present, will serve your country. (Applause.) The Scouts believe in putting America first. (Applause.)
You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp. And it’s not a good place. In fact today I said we ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or, perhaps, to the word sewer. But it’s not good. Not good. (Applause.) And I see what’s going on, and believe me I’d much rather be with you. That I can tell you. (Applause.)
I’ll tell you the reason that I love this and the reason that I really wanted to be here is because as President, I rely on former Boy Scouts every single day, and so do the American people. It’s amazing how many Boy Scouts we have at the highest level of our great government. Many of my top advisors in the White House were Scouts. Ten members of my cabinet were Scouts. Can you believe that? Ten. (Applause.)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not only a Boy Scout, he’s your former national president. (Applause.)
The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence -- good guy -- was a Scout, and it meant so much to him. (Applause.) Some of you here tonight might even have camped out in this yard when Mike was the governor of Indiana, but the scouting was very, very important. And by the way, where are our Indiana Scouts tonight? (Applause.) I wonder if the television cameras will follow you. They don’t like doing that when they see these massive crowds. They don’t like doing that. Hi, folks. (Applause.) A lot of love in this big, beautiful place. A lot of love, and a lot of love for our country. There’s a lot of love for our country.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is here tonight. Come here, Ryan. (Applause.) Ryan is an Eagle Scout from Big Sky Country in Montana. (Applause.) Pretty good. And by the way, he is doing a fantastic job. He makes sure that we leave our national parks and federal lands better than we found them, in the best Scouting tradition. So thank you very much, Ryan. (Applause.)
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, of Texas, an Eagle Scout from the Great State. (Applause.) The first time he came to the national jamboree was in 1964. He was very young then. And Rick told me just a little while ago, it totally changed his life. So, Rick, thank you very much for being here. And we're doing a lot with energy. (Applause.)
And very soon, Rick, we will be an energy exporter. Isn’t that nice -- an energy exporter? (Applause.) In other words we’ll be selling our energy instead of buying it from everybody all over the globe. So that's good. (Applause.) We will be energy dominant. And I’ll tell you what, the folks in West Virginia who were so nice to me, boy, have we kept our promise. We are going on and on. So we love West Virginia. We want to thank you.
Where’s West Virginia by the way? (Applause.) Thank you.
Secretary Tom Price is also here. Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that's really hurting us, folks. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
TRUMP: By the way, you going to get the votes?
He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better -- otherwise, I’ll say, Tom, you're fired. I’ll get somebody. (Applause.)
He better get Senator Capito to vote for it. You got to get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time. After seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare, we have a chance to now do it. They better do it. Hopefully they’ll do it.
As we can see just by looking at our government, in America, Scouts lead the way. And another thing I’ve noticed -- and I’ve noticed it all my life -- there is a tremendous spirit with being a Scout, more so than almost anything I can think of. So whatever is going on, keep doing it. It’s incredible to watch. Believe me. (Applause.)
Each of these leaders will tell you that their road to American success -- and you have to understand, their American success, and they are a great, great story was paved with the patriotic American values as traditions they learned in the Boy Scouts. And some day, many years from now, when you look back on all of the adventures in your lives, you will be able to say the same: I got my start as a Scout just like these incredibly great people that are doing such a good job for our country. So that's going to happen. (Applause.)
Boy Scout values are American values, and great Boy Scouts become great, great Americans. As the Scout Law says: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal” -- we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.
AUDIENCE: “helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” (Applause.)
TRUMP: That was very impressive. (Laughter.) You've heard that before.
But here you learn the rewards of hard work and perseverance. Never ever give up, never quit. Persevere. Never, ever quit.
You learn the satisfaction of building a roaring campfire, reaching a mountain summit, or earning a merit badge after mastering a certain skill. There’s no better feeling than an achievement that you’ve earned with your own sweat, tears, resolve, hard work. There’s nothing like it. Do you agree with that?
TRUMP: I’m waving to people back there so small I can't even see them. Man, this is a lot of people. Turn those cameras back there, please. That is so incredible.
By the way, 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? (Applause.)
The fake media will say: President Trump -- and you know what this is -- President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.
That's some -- that is some crowd. (Applause.)
Fake media. Fake news. Thank you. And I’m honored by that, by the way, all of you people they can't even see you. So thank you. I hope you can hear.
Through scouting you also learn to believe in yourselves -- so important -- to have confidence in your ability, and to take responsibility for your own life. When you face down new challenges, and you will have plenty of them, develop talents you never thought possible, and lead your teammates through daring trials, you discover that you can handle anything. And you learn it by being a scout. It’s great. (Applause.)
You can do anything. You can be anything you want to be. But in order to succeed, you must find out what you love to do. You have to find your passion. No matter what they tell you -- if you don't -- I love you, too. I don't know. It’s a nice guy. (Applause.) Hey, what am I going to do? He sounds like a nice person. He, he, he, he. Thank you. I do. I do love you.
AUDIENCE: We love Trump! We love Trump! We love Trump!
TRUMP: By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?
TRUMP: And we’ll be back. We’ll be back. The answer is no, but we’ll be back.
In life, in order to be successful, and you people are well on the road to success, you have to find out what makes you excited. What makes you want to get up each morning and go to work? You have to find it.
If you love what you do and dedicate yourself to your work, then you will gain momentum, and look -- you have to, you need to. The word momentum -- you will gain that momentum, and each success will create another success. The word momentum.
I’ll tell you a story that’s very interesting for me when I was young. There was a man named William Levitt -- Levittowns, you have some here, you have some in different states. Anybody ever hear of Levittown? (Applause.) And he was a very successful man. He was a homebuilder -- became an unbelievable success, and got more and more successful. And he built homes, and at night he’d go to these major sites with teams of people and he’d scour the sites for nails and sawdust and small pieces of wood. And they’d clean the site so when the workers came in the next morning, the sites would be spotless and clean, and he did it properly. And he did this for 20 years, and then he was offered a lot of money for his company.
And he sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. At the time especially -- this was a long time ago -- sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
TRUMP: Should I tell you? Should I tell you?
TRUMP: Oh, you’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life. So -- look at you. Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right?
So he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate. And they didn’t know anything about building homes, and they didn’t know anything about picking up the nails and the sawdust and selling it -- and the scraps of wood. This was a big conglomerate based in New York City, and after about a ten year period they were losing a lot with it. It didn’t mean anything to them, and they couldn’t sell it.
So they called William Levitt up and they said, would you like to buy back your company, and he said yes, I would. He so badly wanted it, he got bored with this life of yachts and sailing and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places. You won’t get bored, right? You know, truthfully, you’re workers. You’ll get bored too. Believe me. (Applause.) Of course, having a good few years like that isn’t so bad. (Applause.) But what happened is he bought back his company, and he bought back a lot of empty land. And he worked hard in getting it zoning, and he worked hard on starting to develop.
And in the end he failed, and he failed badly. Lost all of his money. He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party, and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party. It was the party of Steve Ross who was one of the great people -- he came up and discovered -- really founded -- Time Warner, and he was a great guy. He had a lot of successful people at the party.
And I was doing well so I got invited to the party. I was very young, and I go in -- but I’m in the real estate business -- and I see 100 people, some of whom I recognize and they’re big in the entertainment business. And I see, sitting in the corner, was a little old man who was all by himself. Nobody was talking to him. I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt of Levittown, and I immediately went over -- I wanted to talk to him more than the Hollywood show business communications people.
So I went over and talked to him, and I said, Mr. Levitt, I’m Donald Trump. He said I know. I said, Mr. Levitt, how are you doing? He goes, not well, not well at all. And I knew that, but he said not well at all. And he explained what was happening and how bad it has been and how hard it has been. And I said what exactly happened? Why did this happen to you? You’re one of the greats ever in our industry. Why did this happen to you? And he said, Donald, I lost my momentum. I lost my momentum. A word you never hear when you’re talking about success. When some of these guys that never made ten cents, they’re on television giving you things about how you’re going to be successful, and the only thing they ever did was a book and a tape.
But I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment. And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true. He lost his momentum. Meaning, he took this period of time off long -- years -- and then when he got back, he didn’t have that same momentum. In life, I always tell this to people, you have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum, and if you don’t have it that’s okay. Because you’re going to go on and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great. But you have to know about the word momentum.
But the big thing: Never quit. Never give up. Do something you love. When you do something you love -- as a Scout I see that you love it. But when you do something that you love you’ll never fail. What you’re going to do is give it a shot again and again and again. You’re ultimately going to be successful, and remember this, you’re not working. Because when you’re doing something that you love like I do -- of course I love my business, but this is a little bit different. Who thought this was going to happen? We’re having a good time. We’re doing a good job. (Applause.) Doing a good job. But when you do something that you love, remember this, it’s not work.
So you’ll work 24/7, you’re going to work all the time, and at the end of a year you’re not really working. You don’t think of it as work. When you’re not doing something that you like or when you’re forced in to do something that you really don’t like, that’s called work. And it’s hard work and tedious work.
So as much as you can, do something that you love. Work hard, and never ever give up, and you’re going to be tremendously successful. Tremendously successful. (Applause.)
Now with that, I have to tell you our economy is doing great. Our stock market has picked up -- since the election November 8th. Do we remember that date? (Applause.) Was that a beautiful date? (Applause.) What a date. Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th, where they said -- these dishonest people -- where they said there is no path to victory for Donald Trump? They forgot about the forgotten people. By the way, they're not forgetting about the forgotten people anymore. They're going crazy trying to figure it out. But I told them, far too late. It’s far too late.
But do you remember that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red, it was unbelievable, and they didn't know what to say? (Applause.)
And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College -- popular vote is much easier. Because New York, California, Illinois -- you have to practically run the East Coast. And we did. We won Florida. We won South Carolina. We won North Carolina. We won Pennsylvania. (Applause.)
We won and won. So when they said, there is no way to victory, there is no way to 270. I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won. But we won -- one vote. I went there because I kept hearing we're at 269. But then Wisconsin came in. Many, many years -- Michigan came in.
And we worked hard there. My opponent didn't work hard there because she was told --
TRUMP: She was told she was going to win Michigan, and I said, well, wait a minute, the car industry is moving to Mexico. Why is she going to move -- she’s there. Why are they allowing it to move?
And by the way, do you see those car industry -- do you see what’s happening, how they're coming back to Michigan? They're coming back to Ohio. They're starting to peel back in. (Applause.)
And we go to Wisconsin -- now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican. But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds. And I’d leave these massive crowds. I’d say, why are we going to lose this state?
The polls -- that's also fake news. They're fake polls. But the polls are saying -- but we won Wisconsin. (Applause.) So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
TRUMP: And I’ll tell you what, we are, indeed, making America great again. What’s going on is incredible. (Applause.)
We had the best jobs report in 16 years. The stock market on a daily basis is hitting an all-time high. We're going to be bringing back very soon trillions of dollars from companies that can't get their money back into this country, and that money is going to be used to help rebuild America. We're doing things that nobody ever thought was possible.
And we've just started. It’s just the beginning. Believe me. (Applause.)
In the Boy Scouts you learn right from wrong, correct?
TRUMP: You learn to contribute to your communities, to take pride in your nation, and to seek out opportunities to serve. You pledge to help other people at all times. (Applause.)
In the Scout Oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country. (Applause.)
And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying, merry Christmas again when you go shopping. Believe me. Merry Christmas. (Applause.)
They've been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase. You're going to be saying, merry Christmas again, folks. (Applause.)
But the words duty, country, and God are beautiful words. In other words, basically what you're doing is you're pledging to be a great American patriot. (Applause.)
For more than a century that is exactly what our Boy Scouts have been. Last year you gave more than 15 million hours of service to helping people in your communities. (Applause.)
Incredible. That's an incredible stat.
All of you here tonight will contribute more than 100,000 hours of service by the end of this jamboree -- 100,000. (Applause.)
When natural disaster strikes, when people face hardship, when the beauty and glory of our outdoor spaces must be restored and taken care of, America turns to the Boy Scouts because we know that the Boy Scouts never, ever, ever let us down. (Applause.)
Just like you know you can count on me, we know we can count on you because we know the values that you live by. (Applause.)
Your values are the same values that have always kept America strong, proud, and free. And by the way, do you see the billions and billions and billions of additional money that we're putting back into our military? Billions of dollars. (Applause.) New planes, new ships, great equipment for our people that are so great to us. We love our vets. We love our soldiers. And we love our police, by the way. Firemen, police -- we love our police. (Applause.) Those are all special people. Uniformed services.
Two days ago, I traveled to Norfolk, Virginia to commission an American aircraft carrier into the fleet of the United States Navy. (Applause.) It’s the newest, largest, and most advanced aircraft carrier anywhere in the world, and it’s named for an Eagle Scout, the USS Gerald R. Ford. (Applause.) Everywhere it sails, that great Scout’s name will be feared and revered, because that ship will be a symbol of American power, prestige, and strength. (Applause.)
Our nation honors President Gerald R. Ford today because he lived his life the scouting way. Boy Scouts celebrate American patriots, especially the brave members of our armed forces. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
American hearts are warmed every year when we read about Boy Scouts placing thousands and thousands of flags next to veterans’ gravesites all across the country. By honoring our heroes, you help to ensure that their memory never, ever dies. You should take great pride in the example you set for every citizen of our country to follow. (Applause.)
Generations of American Boy Scouts have sworn the same oath and lived according to same law. You inherit a noble American tradition, and as you embark on your lives, never cease to be proud of who you are and the principles you hold dear and stand by. Wear your values as your badge of honor. What you've done, few have done before you. What you've done is incredible. What you've done is admired by all. So I want to congratulate you, Boy Scouts. (Applause.)
Let your scouting oath guide your path from this day forward. Remember your duty. Honor your history. Take care of the people God put into your life, and love and cherish your great country. (Applause.)
You are very special people. You're special in the lives of America. You're special to me. But if you do what we say, I promise you that you will live scouting’s adventure every single day of your life, and you will win, win, win and help people in doing so. (Applause.)
Your lives will have meaning and purpose and joy. You will become leaders, and you will inspire others to achieve the dreams they once thought were totally impossible, things that you said could never, ever happen are already happening for you. And if you do these things -- and if you refuse to give in to doubt or to fear -- then you will help to make America great again. You will be proud of yourself, be proud of the uniform you wear, and be proud of the country you love. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
TRUMP: And never, ever forget, America is proud of you. (Applause.)
This is a very, very special occasion for me. I’ve known so many Scouts over the years. Winners. I’ve known so many great people. They've been taught so well, and they love their heritage. But this is very special for me. And I just want to end by saying very importantly: God bless you. God bless the Boy Scouts. God bless the United States of America.
Go out. Have a great time in life. Compete and go out and show me that there is nobody -- nobody -- like a Boy Scout.
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)