Boy Scouts of America apologizes for Trump's 'political rhetoric'

NEW YORK, July 27 (Reuters) - The head of the Boy Scouts of America apologized to members of the youth organization on Thursday for the "political rhetoric that was inserted" into its national gathering this week by U.S. President Donald Trump.

"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," Michael Surbaugh wrote in an open letter published on the Scouts' website. "That was never our intent."

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Boy Scouts listen as US President Donald Trump speaks during the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia, July 24, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump waves after speaking to Boy Scouts during the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia, July 24, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump waves after speaking to Boy Scouts during the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia, July 24, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump waves after speaking to Boy Scouts during the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia, July 24, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: (L-R) Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and HHS Secretary Tom Price walk to Marine One to depart with U.S. President Donald Trump from the White House on July 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is traveling to Beaver, West Virginia where is will speak to Boy Scouts at the at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump waves after delivering remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, West Virginia, U.S., July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, West Virginia, U.S., July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts as he delivers remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, West Virginia , U.S., July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to delivers remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, West Virginia, U.S., July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to delivers remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, West Virginia, U.S., July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) delivers remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, West Virginia, U.S., July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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He said that every U.S. president, who serves as the Scouts' honorary president, has been invited to speak at the national jamborees held every four years since 1937, but that the Scouts were nonetheless "steadfastly" non-partisan.

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

He said there were 40,000 participants, including Boy Scouts, volunteers, staff and visitors.

Trump, a Republican, started his speech before thousands of boys aged 12 to 18 in a West Virginia field on Monday evening lauding hard work and perseverance, then quickly turned to partisan attacks and ridicule of "fake media."

He attacked Democratic rivals, lambasted the current healthcare law and reminisced about a cocktail party he went to decades ago filled with "the hottest people in New York."

Trump's speech drew intense criticism from former Scouts, parents of Scouts and others, with many saying the speech was not in keeping with Scout values and inappropriate.

While many Scouting families expressed outrage, a few said the reaction was overblown, arguing that exposure to political speech in all forms was an important part of a Scout's development.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Toni Reinhold)


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