Donald Trump on Monday delivered what has been characterized as a highly partisan speech to an audience of 35,000 Boy Scouts of America, and even before he had finished speaking, parents had taken to Twitter to register their protests against the “divisive” nature of Trump’s Boy Scout speech — and saying they would pull their sons out of the 107-year-old youth organization.
Trump spoke starting at about 6:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Beaver, West Virginia, on Monday and almost immediately he embarked on what some who watched the speech called a “rant” in which he boasted about his electoral college election victory, railed against “fake news” and ridiculed his 2016 Democratic election opponent Hillary Clinton for supposedly ignoring Michigan and Wisconsin in her campaign.
While media reports put the crowd size at about 35,000, Trump himself claimed that there were 45,000 in attendance for his speech.
He also elicited a loud “boo” from the Scouts directed at President Barack Obama after telling the assembled boys that Obama never spoke to a national scout jamboree. While it is correct that Obama did not address the quadrennial Boy Scout gathering in person during his eight-year tenure as President of the United States, the former president as a youth was a member of the Boy Scouts of America — as were former presidents John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Trump, on the other hand, was never a member of the Boy Scouts of America. Obama did address the Scouts Jamboree via recorded video message in 2010.
In the Boy Scout speech, Trump also threatened to fire his own Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, if a Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed to pass.
“You’re going to get the votes? He better get ’em. Oh, he better. Otherwise I’ll say, Tom, you’re fired. I’ll get somebody [else],” Trump told the Boy Scouts, eliciting chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A!” from the assembled Scouts as Trump promised to eliminate the “Obamacare” health plan. According to an account on one pro-Trump conservative website, the Scouts also broke into a chant of “We love Trump!”
Parents of Boy Scouts and prospective Scouts immediately posted their objections to Trump’s speech on Twitter.
— Lori (@seagal_lori) July 24, 2017
— Matt Schommer (@_USTommie) July 24, 2017
minds were used to meet the needs of a 70 year old man. Do not celebrate bullying. My son was still a scout I would pull him out.
— Emily H. (@ethrogi) July 25, 2017
— RowgirlVT (@RowGirlVT) July 25, 2017
@boyscouts are you apologizing for inviting a horrendous role model? My son was a scout. My students are scouts. Don’t ask me for help.
— Maria Rispoli (@mariuch2000) July 25, 2017
In an especially bizarre moment, Trump appeared to brag to the Scouts about his friend Jeffrey Epstein — a disgraced Wall Street financier who was convicted in 2008 of soliciting sex from an underage girl and who has been accused of serially molesting numerous other young girls. Epstein has paid monetary settlements to approximately 40 women he allegedly molested.
Though Trump did not use Epstein’s name in the speech, he was clearly referring to Epstein in a anecdote he related to the Scouts about a rich friend who sold his company and proceeded to lead an “interesting” life.
HE SAID THIS TO BOY SCOUTS pic.twitter.com/SkiBUC8CRY
— Jensen Karp (@JensenClan88) July 24, 2017
— Leila Rice (@Leila_A_Rice) July 25, 2017
Obama cited the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay members and scoutmasters as his reason for never addressing the Scouts summit — but Obama did not step down from his role as honorary president of the Boy Scouts, an honorific awarded to all U.S. presidents since Woodrow Wilson in 1912.
Disgusting! Removing my son from an organization that thinks it’s ok to have that hateful loathsome brute Trump speak to scouts!
— Molly Miller (@missmolly9470) July 25, 2017
— S. Miller (@OompaLoompaUSA) July 24, 2017
The Boy Scouts of America lifted their ban on gay Scouts in 2013, and the ban on gay adult scoutmasters was removed two years later.
[Featured Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]