Boy Scouts apologize for allowing Trump’s ‘political rhetoric’ into jamboree

U.S. President Donald Trump waves after delivering remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, West Virginia, U.S., July 24, 2017. Carlos Barria/Reuters

The Boy Scouts of America have offered their “sincere apologies,” amid outcry over a speech by U.S. President Donald Trump at their jamorbee on Monday.

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“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,” Michael Surbaugh, the organization’s Chief Scout Executive, wrote in an open letter addressed to their “Scouting Family” Thursday.

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Surbaugh explained that inviting the president to the jamboree is a “long-standing tradition” that has been in place since 1937.

Other U.S. presidents have addressed past jamborees with speeches steering clear of partisan politics.

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Trump’s speech at the West Virginia jamboree led to widespread criticism from the public, after he spoke about politically charged topics in front of more than 30,000 boy scouts typically aged 12 to 18.

At the event, the president once again boasted his election victory, slammed Obamacare, and criticized journalists over “fake news.”

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At one point, Trump asked the crowd: “By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?”

His question led the young audience to boo former president Barack Obama, who never attended the event but did send a video message in 2010.

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Surbaugh held firm that the organization does not endorse Trump’s remarks.

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“For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters,” he wrote.

The apology comes a day after Boy Scouts of America president Randall Stephenson told The Associated Press that he was expecting Trump’s speech to be controversial.

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“If I suggested I was surprised by the president’s comments, I would be disingenuous,” he said. “We anticipated there might be some people upset.”

When asked about the apology during the White House press briefing Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said defended the president’s speech.

“I saw nothing but roughly 40-45,000 Boy Scouts cheering the president. I think they were pretty excited that he was there and happy to hear him speak to them.”

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— With files from The Associated Press

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