Boy Scouts of America apologizes for Trump's jamboree speech

Boy Scouts of America apologizes for Trump's jamboree speech

(RNN) - The Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America apologized in a statement Thursday for the "political rhetoric" in President Donald Trump's speech at the National Jamboree.

"I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree," Chief Michael Surbaugh said. "That was never our intent."

Presidents have been invited to speak at every jamboree since 1937.

"It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies," Surbaugh said.

Trump gave a campaign-style speech to the crowd of nearly 40,000 people attending the 20th jamboree, which is held every four years. He verbally bashed his former opponent Hillary Clinton and former president Barack Obama while pushing his political agenda.

He also joked he would fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price if Obamacare wasn't repealed. Much of the crowd responded with cheers for the president and boos for the mention of Obama.

"I go to Washington, and I see all the politicians and I see the swamp," Trump said. "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."

Surbaugh called it a "challenging time in a country divided along political lines." But he said the Scouts' focus remained on teaching traits like trustworthiness, loyalty and kindness.

"As part of our program's duty to country, we teach youth to become active citizens, to participate in their government, respect the variety of perspectives and to stand up for individual rights," Surbaugh said.

Boy Scouts of America president Randall Stephenson told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he was not surprised the president's comments were controversial, but the organization felt obliged to invite him out of respect for the office.

The Boy Scouts even issued guidelines before the speech to adult staff on how the audience should react.

"Anyone knows his speeches get highly political; we anticipated that this could be the case," Stephenson said to the AP. "Do I wish the president hadn't gone there and hadn't been political? Of course."

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