President Barack Obama is skipping Nancy Reagan’s funeral to attend the South By Southwest music festival. The annual and popular hipster music and film festival is held in Austin, Texas. Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton will be going to the memorial service at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Friday.
This is not the first time Obama has skipped the funeral of a notable Republican. Last month, the president experienced backlash for opting out of attending the memorial service for renowned conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. President Obama was also criticized for going golfing after announcing the beheading of American journalist James Foley at the hands of ISIS, the Washington Times notes.
“It’s always a challenge when you’re supposed to be on vacation,” Obama said after being chastised for delivering the tragic news and then heading out to the links. “Because you’re followed everywhere. And part of what I’d love is a vacation from the press. But there’s no doubt that after having talked to the families, where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain that they were going throughout, after the statement that I made, that you know, I should’ve anticipated the optics [of golf].”
— Consequence of Sound (@coslive) March 8, 2016
Barack Obama is slated to give the South By Southwest (SXSW) keynote address at the music festival. The event favorited by the college set and Hollywood celebrities include music concerts, film screenings, and tech and interactive media showcases. The event drew about 80,000 attendees last year, according to a Daily Mail report. President Obama announced plans to give the keynote address several days before Nancy Reagan died of congestive heart failure.
Prior to the public learning that Obama was skipping the Nancy Reagan funeral, the president shared memories of how gracious she was to his family as they moved into the White House. The president said Reagan “redefined the role” of the First Lady. Michelle Obama said Nancy Reagan was a woman of “grace” and “incredible strength,” according to ABC News.
“Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives,” President Obama added.
Republicans and a host of Donald Trump supporters took to social media to register their displeasure about the sitting president’s decision to skip the funeral of the former First Lady to attend a music festival.
President Political Hack will be attending Obama the South By Southwest Film Festival, according to The Hill pic.twitter.com/TPJohlLccX
— Villi Wilson (@Conservative_VW) March 8, 2016
Michelle Obama had been scheduled to give a speech about her Let Girls Learn Campaign at the South By Southwest festival, but cancelled her appearance.
“Mrs Reagan also understood the value of mentoring. She warmly and willingly offered advice and encouragement to me as I settled into my role as First Lady,” Michelle Obama said. “I hope that our continued work to educate girls worldwide is a fitting tribute to her legacy.”
The 2016 SXSW festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Festival co-founder Roland Swenson deemed the appearance of President Obama the best way to celebrate the event’s milestone. Obama’s keynote address is expected to focus on urging young people to funnel their talents into perfecting technology to help solve “future world issues.”
Obama is the first sitting president to attend the South By Southwest festival.
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[Photo by Hal Horowitz/Invision for Microsoft/AP Images]