President Donald Trump hit back at a suggestion that a raucous speech last week to a gathering of Boy Scouts received a “mixed” reaction.
Trump made the remarks during an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the transcript of which was obtained by Politico.
During a back-and-forth with the Journal reporters in the room, Trump asked what they thought of his appearance before the Boy Scouts, which he said was the “biggest crowd they’ve ever had.”
“I thought it was an interesting speech in the context of the Boy Scouts,” one reporter said.
“Right,” Trump replied.
“They seemed to get a lot of feedback from former scouts and —”
Trump then asked if they’d liked it, to which the reporter responded, “It seemed mixed.”
Trump disagreed with that assessment. “They loved it. It wasn’t — there was no mix. That was a standing —”
“You got a good reaction inside the arena, that’s right,” the reporter said.
“From the time I walked out on the stage — because I know,” Trump continued. “And by the way, I’d be the first to admit mixed. I’m a guy that will tell you mixed. There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix.”
Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts drew criticism for taking on an increasingly political tilt, as the president took shots at the media, former President Barack Obama, and 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton.
“Boy, you have a lot of people here,” Trump said at the beginning of the rally on July 24. “The press will say it’s about 200 people. It looks like about 45,000 people.”
“I said, ‘Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts,'” Trump said.
However, he did just that for the duration of the speech.
“You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp,” he said. “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. And I see what’s going on, and believe me I’d much rather be with you. That I can tell you.”
Trump also criticized Obama, who previously turned down an invitation to speak at the Jamboree in protest of the Boy Scouts’ policy of disallowing gay members and leaders from joining its ranks in 2013.
As he frequently does, Trump went on to revisit the events of Election Day in 2016.
“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’?” Trump said while pointing at members of the media. “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.”
Trump continued praising his Boy Scouts appearance during the interview with the Journal, saying to the reporters in the room that he received a call “from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them.
“And they were very thankful. So there was — there was no mix,” he said.
Boy Scouts officials pushed back on Trump’s claim, according to TIME, which said the organization was “unaware of any call from national leadership placed to the White House” about Trump’s speech.
The organization pointed to a statement released last week in response to backlash over Trump’s speech: “The Chief Scout Executive’s message to the Scouting community speaks for itself,” the organization said.
That statement came as the Boy Scouts of America quickly distanced itself from Trump’s political rhetoric.
“The Boy Scouts of America is wholly nonpartisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate, or philosophy,” the organization said in a statement. “The invitation for the sitting US president to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies.
An official with the organization also apologized for the “political rhetoric” in Trump’s speech.
“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,” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh. “That was never our intent.”