“Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?” President Trump asked the 40,000 people gathered in Glen Jean, West Virginia, on Monday for the Boy Scout Jamboree.
The answer is President Trump. The event, which occurs every four years, was attended by about 24,000 boys, ages 12 to 18, but Trump treated it like a raucous campaign rally. During a rambling, 35-minute speech, he playfully threatened a member of his cabinet about getting the votes to repeal Obamacare, recounted his election win in great detail, and attacked President Obama.
A post on the Jamboree’s blog had warned troops to be “courteous” and refrain from chanting phrases like “lock her up” as they are “considered divisive by many members of our audience, and may cause unnecessary friction between individuals and units.” That did not prevent the audience from applauding Trump’s partisan attacks and even booing when he mentioned Hillary Clinton.
It seems the president had prepared a speech about letting “your scouting oath guide your path,” but his trademark asides and non sequiturs dominated the address. Here are Trump’s weird comments to his largely underage audience.
1. Trump starts off by marveling at the size of the crowd and attacking the press.
“Boy, you have a lot of people here. The press will say it’s about 200 people. [Laughter.] It looks like about 45,000 people. You set a record today. [Applause.] You set a record. That’s a great honor, believe me. Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. — you’ve been hearing about that with the fake news and all of that. [Applause.] We’re going to put that aside. And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams … I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts, right?”
2. Trump calls our nation’s capital a “cesspool.”
“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. But it’s not good. Not good.” [Applause.]
3. Trump boasts that ten members of his cabinet were Boy Scouts, then threatens to fire one of them.
“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. And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us, folks.”
[Applause. Crowd chants “USA! USA! USA!”]
“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. You got to get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time. 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.”
4. Trump says we need more “loyalty,” doesn’t explain what he’s referring to.
“As the Scout Law says: ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal’ — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.”
5. Trump marvels at the size of the crowd and attacks the “fake media” for refusing to show it (though CNN aired the speech).
“I’m waving to people back there so small I can’t even see them. Man, this is a lot of people. Turn those cameras back there, please. That is so incredible. 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? [Applause.] The fake media will say: President Trump — and you know what this is — President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today. That’s some — that is some crowd. [Applause.] Fake media. Fake news. Thank you.”
6. Trump attacks his predecessor for failing to address the Boy Scouts (Obama sent a video message in 2010).
[Audience chants, “We love Trump! We love Trump! We love Trump!”]
“By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?”
[Audience shouts, “No!”]
“And we’ll be back. We’ll be back. The answer is no, but we’ll be back.”
7. Trump tells a long, meandering story about the real-estate developer William Levitt and alludes to “interesting” activities he engaged in on his yacht.
“[Levitt] he sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. At the time especially — this was a long time ago — [he] sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go on any more than that because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did.”
“Should I tell you? Should I tell you?”
[Audience shouts, “Yes!”]
“Oh, you’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life. So — look at you. Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right?”
“So, he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate …” [Trump explains that years later Levitt bought his company back.]
“He so badly wanted it, he got bored with this life of yachts and sailing and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places. You won’t get bored, right? You know, truthfully, you’re workers. You’ll get bored, too. Believe me. Of course, having a few good years like that isn’t so bad.”
8. Trump recalls meeting Levitt at a hot New York party.
“In the end he failed, and he failed badly. Lost all of his money. He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party, and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party. It was the party of Steve Ross who was one of the great people — he came up and discovered — really founded — Time Warner and he was a great guy.”
“He had a lot of successful people at the party. And I was doing well so I got invited to the party. I was very young, and I go in — but I’m in the real-estate business — and I see 100 people, some of whom I recognize and they’re big in the entertainment business …”
[Trump recognizes Levitt.] “So I went over and talked to him, and I said, Mr. Levitt, ‘I’m Donald Trump.’ He said ‘I know.’”
9. Trump tells the boys the lesson to take from Levitt’s life is not to lose “momentum” — but if you do, that’s okay, too.
“But I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment. And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true. 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. 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 okay. Because you’re going to go on and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great. But you have to know about the word momentum.”
10. Trump recalls his victory on November 8, and attacks the “dishonest people” for doubting that he could win.
“Now with that, I have to tell you our economy is doing great. Our stock market has picked up — since the election November 8. Do we remember that date? [Applause.] Was that a beautiful date? [Applause.] What a date. Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8, where they said — these dishonest people — where they said there is no path to victory for Donald Trump? They forgot about the forgotten people. By the way, they’re not forgetting about the forgotten people anymore. They’re going crazy trying to figure it out. But I told them, far too late. It’s far too late.”
“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?” [Applause.]
11. Trump goes through his victories state by state and criticizes Hillary Clinton.
And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College — popular vote is much easier. Because New York, California, Illinois — you have to practically run the East Coast. And we did. We won Florida. We won South Carolina. We won North Carolina. We won Pennsylvania. [Applause.] We won and won. So when they said there is no way to victory, there is no way to 270, I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won. But we won — one vote. I went there because I kept hearing we’re at 269. But then Wisconsin came in. Many, many years — Michigan came in. And we worked hard there. My opponent didn’t work hard there because she was told —”
12. Trump thanks his audience — which again, consisted largely of children — for voting for him in November.
“[Clinton] was told she was going to win Michigan, and I said, well, wait a minute, the car industry is moving to Mexico. Why is she going to move — she’s there. Why are they allowing it to move? And by the way, do you see those car industry — do you see what’s happening, how they’re coming back to Michigan? They’re coming back to Ohio. They’re starting to peel back in.” [Applause.]
“And we go to Wisconsin — now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican. But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds. And I’d leave these massive crowds. I’d say, why are we going to lose this state? The polls — that’s also fake news. They’re fake polls. But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin.” [Applause.]
“So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, this 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.”
[Audience chants “USA! USA! USA!”]
13. Trump makes a false claim about the latest jobs reports, and updates the kids on his tax-repatriation plan.
“We had the best jobs report in 16 years. The stock market on a daily basis is hitting an all-time high. We’re going to be bringing back very soon trillions of dollars from companies that can’t get their money back into this country, and that money is going to be used to help rebuild America.”
14. Trump assures the Scouts, out of nowhere, that they can finally say “Merry Christmas” again.
“In the Scout Oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country. [Applause.] And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again when you go shopping. Believe me. Merry Christmas. [Applause.] They’ve been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again, folks.” [Applause.]