The Boy Scouts of America issued a statement following President Donald Trump's controversial speech in front of more than 40,000 Boy Scouts at their national jamboree. The organization asserted it was strictly nonpartisan after the president gave a decidedly partisan address, outraging many parents.
On July 24, Trump addressed that BSA Jamboree in West Virginia. The president began his speech by stating he would not discuss political matters before the crowd of Scouts, aged between 11 and 18.
"Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts?" Trump said, according to Time. "Right?"
Several parents who attended the event were upset when Trump spent the majority of his address touting his victory during the 2016 election, his policy agenda and inciting the crowd to boo former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"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?" Trump told the crowd of his election victory. "And you know, we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College. Popular vote is much easier."
Trump also asked the crowd, "By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a Jamboree?"
Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only presidents who did not personally attend the BSA Jamboree during their terms were John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Former first lady Nancy Reagan spoke during the event in her husband's stead while Obama, a Boy Scout in his childhood, addressed the crowd through a pre-recorded video message, according to The Washington Post.
Trump also vowed during his speech to the Boy Scouts to repeal the Obama administration's Affordable Care Care. The president motioned to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on stage and warned him that he would be replaced if the ACA was not replaced.
"By the way, are you going to get the votes?" Trump asked Price before the crowd. "He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better. Otherwise I'll say, 'Tom, you're fired.' I'll get somebody."
Following the event, the BSA issued a statement distancing the organization from the president's speech.
"The Boy Scouts of America is wholly nonpartisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate, or philosophy," the BSA said, according to Business Insider.
"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. “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."
While Trump's speech was well-received by the crowd, several parents of Boy Scouts took to social media to voice outrage.
"You have made me ill, [BSA]!" tweeted one mother. "Do I now have to worry my son will be indoctrinated into a Trump you org when he attends a BSA event??!"
"That was a disgusting display tonight," tweeted a father. "I am withdrawing my son from your organization next year. You should all be ashamed."
Assistant Scoutmaster Brett Nicholson of Houston, the father of three Scouts, also blasted Trump's address.
"I just think it's really sort of shameful that our current president chose to use it as an opportunity to have another rally for his own ego... It looked like he's turning them into Hitler Youth," Nicholson told BuzzFeed News.