In a wild, rambling, frequently political, and often funny speech, President Donald Trump addressed a massive crowd of some 40,000 Boy Scouts on Wednesday and quickly turned the event into something resembling one of his raucous and unpredictable campaign rallies — complete with chants of "WE LOVE TRUMP!" along with cheers, laughs, and applause, but also some boos, jeers, and outrage from critics.
Among the topics Trump felt free to drop one-liners on during the 35-minute speech: his historic upset of Hillary Clinton's terrible campaign, President Obama failing to show up in person for the Scouts, and the Washington "sewer." In one funny/uncomfortable moment, Trump jokingly(?) threatened to fire his own Health and Human Services director if he couldn't get Obamacare repealed. It was, well, the kind of appearance only Trump could pull off. And, of course, his critics were "horrified" over the "disrespectful" appearance of the "lunatic."
Ahead of the event, organizers provided some instructions to Scouts about how to make it a success, including "ensuring that any reactions to the president’s address are, as we state in our Scout Law, friendly, courteous, and kind" and avoiding "chants of certain phrases heard during the campaign (e.g. 'build the wall,' 'lock her up')." Though "Lock her up!" and "Build the wall!" didn't come up, the Trump standard "USA! USA!" and "WE LOVE TRUMP!" certainly did. As for the"friendly, courteous and kind," well, those rules apply to Scouts, not POTUS, who, clearly enjoying himself throughout, let it fly.
A few highlights from Trump's speech at the Jamboree, followed by a few reactions from the public (video of speech below, partial transcript via Time).
On the crowd size:
"Boy, you have a lot of people here. The press will say it's about 200 people," he said amid laughter. "It looks like about 45,000 people. You set a record today."
"Fake media, fake media," he said amid a mixed response.
"By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible, massive crowd, record-setting is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero?" he added later.
In case you missed it, Trump and the "fake media" duked it out over his inauguration on the size of the crowd. In this instance, according to the Charleston Gazette, Trump had it about right: roughly 40,000 people were there.
One the Washington swamp/cesspool/sewer:
"The Scouts believe in putting America first," said Trump to hearty applause. "You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp, and it's not a good place. In fact, today, I said we ought to change it from the word "swamp" to the word "cesspool" or perhaps to the word 'sewer.'"
On Obama not showing up in person:
"By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?" Trump asked amid a mixture of responses, but many shouting "No!"
Obama, a former Boy Scout, appeared via video feed in 2010, not in person.
On HHS Director Price getting senators to vote for the Obamacare repeal bill:
After Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a former Boy Scout, was introduced, Trump joked he'd better get senators to vote for the repeal and replacement bill or else he'd get "fired."
"Secretary Tom Price is also here today.," said Trump. "Dr. Price still lives the Scout oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our secretary of Health and Human Services. And he's doing a great job. And hopefully he's going to gets the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that's really hurting us."
The statement was followed by widespread applause and chants of "USA! USA!"
He continued, directing his comments to Price: "By the way, are you going to get the votes? He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better. Otherwise I'll say, 'Tom, you're fired.' I'll get somebody. (applause) He better get Senator Capito to vote for it. He better get the other senators to vote for it. It's time. You know, after seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare we have a chance to now do it. They better do it. Hopefully they'll do it."
On the lack of "loyalty" in Washington:
"As the Scout Law says: 'A Scout is trustworthy, loyal' — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that," he said, referencing a theme he's stressed often in his presidency.
On vanquishing Hillary:
"But do you remember that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red, it was unbelievable, and they didn't know what to say?" said Trump.
"So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again," he said.
"WE LOVE TRUMP!"
But of all of the moments that angered the Left the most, here was assuredly the worst: the crowd chanting "WE LOVE TRUMP! WE LOVE TRUMP!"
The reactions have been about what you'd expect: Trump critics are livid and Trump fans find the whole thing hysterical. A few responses highlighted by the BBC:
Jude Nevans Cleaver wrote: "I am the proud mother of a former scout who was sheltered from that pack of lies speech at the Jamboree. Done with scouts after you felt the need to have my kid listen to a liar stroke his ego on our time."
Debbie S. Milligan said: "Wow, this is what you are teaching the Boy Scouts? To be disrespectful to a Past President. One that had been a Boy Scout, unlike the current President. Completely disrespectful!"
Lobbyist for women's and LGBT rights Amy Siskind tweeted: "If the Boy Scouts organization has any decency, they'll come out with a statement tonight denouncing Trump, and giving instructions for all troop leaders to speak to these boys about what they just heard and why it was wrong."
Other critics condemned the Boy Scouts for having "violated your own policy" and said they should be ashamed of having invited "an unpredictable, ranting lunatic" to speak to the boys.
"My son didn't join the Scouts to be used as POTUS's political prop!" wrote one parent. Another said they were "appalled" by Trump's appearance, while one described the whole thing as "horrifying."
Trump fans cheered the chance for the president to be able to address the kids and help influence "future leaders."