President Barack Obama, the honorary chairman of the Boy Scouts of America, will not speak in-person before the group on Wednesday at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, as part of the organization's 100th anniversary celebration. However, the president is sending a videotaped message to the scouts for Wednesday, the same day he will be in Manhattan to tape an appearance for ABC TV’s talk show “The View.”
Bob Dries, chairman of national news and media at the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree – a gathering that happens every four years and attracts thousands of scouts from around the world – told CNSNews.com that the organization was told on Monday that the president had scheduling conflicts and would not be speaking in-person at the week-long event.
The BSA had scheduled its Wednesday arena program to include remarks by the president at 11 a.m. in front of the more than 45,000 scouts who will be in attendance.
The White House did not confirm to CNSNews.com that the president would not speak live at the Jamboree on Wednesday, but reporters were sent an e-mail at 1:45 p.m. on Monday announcing that the president will be in New Jersey on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the economy before he travels on to New York City to film his appearance for “The View’s” Thursday edition.
Also, shortly after the White House e-mail was distributed, Bob Dries confirmed that Jamboree officials had been informed the president would not be speaking in-person but would address the scouts via pre-taped remarks.
Since the Jamboree was launched in 1937, sitting presidents have been invited to speak at the event in their role as the honorary chairman of the BSA. That year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke at the inaugural Jamboree, held on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Obama’s three predecessors spoke at the event – George H. W. Bush in 1989 and Bill Clinton in 1998 in-person, and George W. Bush who spoke via video in 2001 when bad weather prevented him from traveling. George W. Bush did speak in-person at the 2005 Jamboree.
First Lady Nancy Reagan addressed the Jamboree in 1985, the first year someone from the White House had spoken there since President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Prior to Johnson, President Harry Truman was joined by then-General and future President Dwight D. Eisenhower, both of whom spoke at the 1950 Jamboree in Valley Forge.
Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Carter and Ford did not speak at a Jamboree and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated before the Jamboree in 1964 when Johnson spoke.
The BSA issued a statement late on Monday about President Obama not being able to speak at the event.
“Due to his schedule, President Obama will not be able to attend the 2010 National Scout Jamboree,” the statement reads. “In February, the President sent a letter honoring the BSA’s 100th Anniversary and his signature appears on Eagle Scout cards."
Then-President George W. Bush shakes hands with scouts at the 2005 Boy Scouts of America Jamboree.
“Also, he has welcomed Boy Scouts contingents in the Oval Office twice since taking office,” the statement reads. “President Obama serves as the Honorary President of the BSA, as has every President since Howard Taft. While each President is traditionally invited to attend the Jamboree, not every President has been able to attend the event.”
“We thank the President for his effort to recognize Scouting and look forward to working with his administration as we work toward accomplishing our mission of preparing young people to become exceptional adults,” the statement concludes.
The two occasions referred to in the statement were when scouting representatives visited the Oval Office in 2009 and earlier this month for the BSA to present the president with the organization’s annual Report to the Nation, which outlines accomplishments for the year and the BSA’s vision for the future.
In a statement about his appearance on the "The View," ABC said it would be "the first time in history a sitting United States president has visited a daytime talk show."
In an e-mail, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told The New York Times that Obama's appearance on "The View" had been "contemplated for several weeks because the president was scheduled to be in New York City for a fund-raiser," and that the appearance "was nailed down early last week."
"If it works schedule-wise, we try to have the president appear on some non-traditional news shows when we go to New York City, since that's where most of the shows tape," Pfeiffer said in his e-mail.