President Trump first told a huge crowd of Boy Scouts at a national jamboree Monday that he didn't want to talk politics. "Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm front of the Boy Scouts?" he roared.
But he couldn't help himself.
As he extolled the life lessons offered by scouting, Trump also called for the repeal of Obamacare, praised the stock market — and mixed in familiar attacks on "fake news," inaccurate polls, and mocked his predecessor, Barack Obama.
"By the way, just a question: Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?" he asked as the crowd of scouts, scoutmasters, and various other adults gathered in West Virginia yelled the word "no."
"The answer is no," Trump continued. "But we'll be back." (Obama did address a 100th anniversary scouting event in 2010 by video.)
Addressing the 2017 National Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, Trump complained about his political opponents and echoed one of his tweets earlier in the day by saying that he couldn't decide whether Washington is "a swamp," a "cesspool," or a "sewer."
The president repeatedly bashed the news media for under-counting the size of his crowds and underestimating his election chances.
He dwelt at length on his November victory, even giving a state-by-state by analysis of his Electoral College triumph over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, with the Senate planning a vote Tuesday on repealing Obamacare, Trump pointed to one of his traveling companions, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. "By the way, are you going to get the votes?" the former host of television's The Apprentice asked Price. "He better get 'em... otherwise I'll say, 'Tom, you're fired!'"
It is still not clear what will be in the bill or whether it has enough votes to pass.
The president also talked up the economy and the stock market, and said prosperity is "just the beginning."
Trump did periodically work his way back to the traditional Boy Scout themes, telling the youngsters that scouting can teach them lessons that will lead to success in their adult lives.
Urging the scouts to pursue their goals with passion, Trump said at one point: "Never quit ... Never give up ... Do something you love."
At one point, he suggested they may be successful enough to buy a yacht.
And while congratulating the parents of his audience — "thank you for making scouting possible — he also applied scouting duties to one of his favorite political slogans: "The Scouts believe in putting America First."
Trump noted that many of his top aides were scouts, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and that experiences helped make them who they are.
"I rely on former Boy Scouts every day," Trump said, "and so do the American people."
After the speech, the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement saying it is "wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies."
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