President Donald Trump broke with nearly 80 years of tradition during his Monday speech at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree when he used the West Virginia event to discuss politics, a topic past Presidents generally avoided.
The eight previous Presidents to speak at the Jamboree — a list that extends back to President. Franklin D. Roosevelt — have largely avoided politically sensitive topics. Franklin Roosevelt spoke about being a good citizen, while President George H.W. Bush used the occasion to talk about “serving others,” according to the Washington Post.
But Trump took the opportunity to boast about his electoral victory and joke about firing Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. That led some critics to argue his speech sounded more like a campaign rally rather than a speech to the Boy Scouts of America.
Here are three controversial statements President Trump made while speaking to the Boy Scouts of America National Scout Jamboree:
Trump joked about firing Secretary Tom Price
President Trump joked about firing HHS Sec. Tom Price if he doesn’t get the votes to “kill this horrible thing known as Obamacare.” Trump’s comments came a day before Senate Republicans were set to vote on a measure to begin debate on a health care bill Tuesday.
“Secretary Tom Price is also here today. 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,” Trump said. “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.”
“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,” the President added.
Trump said ‘we could use some more loyalty’
During his speech, Trump applauded the “patriotic American values and traditions” that Boy Scouts learn as a “road to American success.”
“Someday, many years from now, when you look back on all of the adventures in your lives you will be able to say . . . ‘I got my start as a Scout, just like these incredibly great people that are doing such a good job for our country.'”
He continued to say that “Boy Scout Values are American values,” and that “great Boy Scouts become great, great Americans,” before adding that “As the Scout law says, a scout is trustworthy, loyal — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell that you that.”
Trump’s comments about loyalty came after former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey claimed Trump had asked him for his loyalty before abruptly firing him in May. It’s unusual for a President to make such a request from an FBI Director.
Trump gave the Boy Scouts career advice inspired by a controversial developer
Trump recounted a time when he saw William Levitt, a famed real estate developer, at a time when Levitt was suffering from a string of failed business endeavors.
“I saw [Levitt] at a cocktail party and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party,” he said. Trump then approached Levitt to introduce himself, he recalled, and then asked the developer what happened that caused his businesses to fail.
“And he said, ‘Donald, I lost my momentum. I lost my momentum.’ A word you never hear when you’re talking about success,” Trump said.
“He lost his momentum, meaning he took this period of time off long, years, and then when he got back, he didn’t have the same momentum,” Trump added. “In life, I always tell this to people. You have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum. And if you don’t have, it that’s O.K.”
The anecdote was meant to encourage the Boy Scouts to “never quit, never give up,” Trump said. But as some social media users pointed out, Levitt was criticized for refusing to sell homes to African-Americans and other minority groups. His practice led civil rights groups to demonstrate at one of his properties in Bowie, Md. in 1963, according to The New York Times. Levitt died of progressive kidney disease in 1994 at the age of 86.