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United States

Boy Scouts apologize for 'political' Trump speech

The Boy Scouts have said they regret their jamboree was "overshadowed by the remarks offered by the President." Trump spoke of his election victory and policy plans during his address to the 40,000 scouts and volunteers.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) issued an official apology on Thursday for a speech by US President Donald Trump that sounded more like a campaign rally than a celebration of scouting.

"We know the past few days have been overshadowed by the remarks offered by the president of the United States," said BSA chief Michael Surbaugh in a statement. "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. That was never our intent."

Trump baffled the 40,000 attendees of the National Boy Scout Jamboree on Monday night in West Virginia with a bizarre and at times incomprehensible address that ranged in topic from New York City cocktail parties to his electoral college victory.

Held approximately every four years, the national jamboree is a gathering of scouts and scout leaders from across the US. The boys are meant to camp, trade patches, and participate in activities coordinated by adult volunteers.

Trump touts election win in Boy Scout address

Several presidents have come to the celebrations, though the last to attend before Trump was George W. Bush at the 2005 celebration. Bush used his address to thank the Boy Scouts for their "service to God and country," and praised them for being "an example of conduct and leadership" in the communities.

But Trump also touted his own accomplishments by claiming "our economy is doing great," and that his electoral college win was all the more surprising because the "popular vote is much easier." He went on to chide former President Barack Obama for not attending the jamboree.

He also promoted some his own policies, for example by promising the audience that they should feel comfortable saying "Merry Christmas," come December, instead of "Happy Holidays."

The president also promised the boys that "you will live scouting's adventure every single day of your life, and you will win, win, win and help people in doing so."

Reacting to Trump's speech on Thursday, BSA leader Surbaugh explained that the sitting president is always invited to address the jamboree, and that the practice is "no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies."

"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. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program," Surbaugh said.

es/bk (dpa, Reuters)

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