President Donald Trump brought Washington politics to West Virginia Monday, speaking to a crowd of some 40,000 boy scouts and volunteers at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean for the 2017 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree.
Trump is the eighth president to attend the event that occurs every four years, and the first to attend the national jamboree since it found a permanent home in West Virginia in 2013.
Trump began his speech by telling the 40,000 gathered that what he wanted to talk about was success and how to achieve it.
“Who the hell wants to talk about politics when I’m talking to the Boy Scouts?” Trump said to loud applause from the scouts. But, in the end, he couldn’t help but talk about politics.
“You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians and I see the swamp and its not a good place,” he told the crowd minutes into his speech.
“In fact, today I said we ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or perhaps the word sewer.”
The president was joined on his trip to West Virginia by three members of his cabinet, who also happen to be three former Boy Scouts: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price.
When it comes to energy policy, Trump says his administration is on track to make the U.S. an energy exporter, an issue that helped him win West Virginia in 2016.
“We will be energy dominant and I tell you what, the folks from West Virginia who were so nice to me, boy have we kept our promise,” he said.
Trump won the state by the largest majority over a Democratic candidate in West Virginia history, promising to put coal miners back to work, a promise that has come true to some extent.
A report from West Virginia University says the rebound in the industry, though, is largely due to global demand for the commodity.
Trump didn’t stop with energy, though. He also used the speech to push his health care agenda.
After the U.S. Senate failed last week to get enough votes for a Republican repeal and replace plan for the Affordable Care Act, the president began pushing for a straight repeal. That plan is set to go to a vote in the Senate Tuesday, a fact that he reminded HHS Sec. Price of Monday evening.
“By the way, are you going to get the votes? He better get ‘em. Otherwise, I’m going to say Tom you’re fired!” he said.
Trump also called out Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, saying Price “better get Sen. Capito to vote for it.”
Capito opposed the first Senate plan to repeal and replace the nation’s health care law and has said she will not vote for a repeal. With only a two-vote majority in the chamber, Capito’s position could have national implications.
Trump did speak some of success, as he initially planned, encouraging the scouts to wear the organization’s values as a badge of honor throughout their lives. He pushed the young men and woman to continue to give back to their communities, creating a country of which that they can all be proud.
This story was co-published with West Virginia Public Broadcasting.