U.S. President Barack Obama will not be attending the funeral for former First Lady Nancy Reagan on Friday as he is scheduled to speak at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Texas.
Last week, the music and digital festival announced Obama will appear as part of a Keynote Conversation on Friday, marking the first time a sitting president has attended the interactive festival. The First Lady is also scheduled to appear at the event next week.
“I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our event’s 30th year than to welcome both the President and First Lady to SXSW,” event co-founder Roland Swenson said in a statement. “As each new generation comes up at SXSW they look for ways they can be of service, and it’s important to reflect and support that message. President and Mrs. Obama’s visit here will inspire attendees to that purpose.”
Reagan passed away on Sunday at the age of 94, days after SXSW announced Obama’s attendance.
“Our former First Lady redefined the role in her time here,” the Obamas said in a statement. “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.
“And we remain grateful for Nancy Reagan’s life, thankful for her guidance, and prayerful that she and her beloved husband are together again,” the Obamas said.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed Obama would not attend Reagan’s funeral.
“The president is travelling in Texas,” Earnest said during daily press briefing.
Some politicians were quick to criticize Obama’s absence from the funeral.
Former Congresswoman and Conservative Michele Bachmann called Obama “self-centered” and “classless” for missing “another funeral of a high profile Conservative.”
The president did not attend the funeral for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last month.
Another Conservative took to Twitter to mock Obama’s SXSW appearance.
However, the First Lady will attend the funeral on the president’s behalf.
As NBC New points out, presidents don’t always attend funerals for former first ladies. When former First Lady Betty Ford passed away in 2011, Obama and former president Bill Clinton did not attend.