CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — No knot-tying demonstrations. No wood-carving advice. President Donald Trump went straight to starting a fire in a speech at a national Boy Scout gathering.
Parents, former Scouts and others were furious after Trump railed against his enemies, promoted his political agenda and underlined his insistence on loyalty before an audience of tens of thousands of school-age Scouts in West Virginia on Monday night.
“Is nothing safe?” Jon Wolfsthal, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter, saying Trump turned the event into a “Nazi Youth rally.”
Trump, the eighth president to address the Scouts’ National Jamboree, was cheered by the crowd, but his comments put an organization that has tried in recent years to avoid political conflict and become more inclusive in an awkward position.
The knot-tying was left to Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who said on Twitter that his stomach was in knots over the president’s over-the-top delivery.
“If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t,” Murphy said. “It’s downright icky.”
The Boy Scouts’ official Facebook page was barraged with comments condemning the speech. Several people posted links to the Scouts’ policy on participation in political events — which sharply limits what Scouts should do. Boy Scouts are typically 10 to 18 years old.
One woman wrote in disbelief that the Scouts started booing when Trump mentioned Obama.
Trump noted from the podium that Obama did not personally attend either of the two national Jamborees during his tenure. (Obama did address the 2010 gathering by video to mark the Scouts’ 100th anniversary. The Jamboree is typically held every four years.)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former president of the Boy Scouts, invited Trump to the gathering, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday.
“When all is said and done, those Boy Scouts, what they will remember from the jamboree in West Virginia is that the president showed up,” Nauert…