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Clinton a No-Show at Boy Scout Jamboree

August 9, 1993

BOWLING GREEN, Va. (AP) _ Billy Boaz wanted to know if President Clinton wasn’t asked to come to Fort A.P. Hill on Sunday because of friction over his policy on gays in the military.

The 13-year-old from New York was assured Clinton had been invited to the Boy Scout Jamboree, but the president couldn’t make it. Billy made a face.

″It’s not that far,″ he said Sunday. ″He should be here.″

Clinton broke with recent tradition by not addressing the more than 30,000 Scouts gathered for the jamboree, the group’s quadrennial national campout.

The White House announced Monday that Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt planned to fill in for Clinton with a speech to the Scouts Monday night. But later Monday, Babbitt canceled.

No explanation was given as to why Clinton was not visiting or why Babbitt had to cancel.

President Bush spoke at the last jamboree in 1989. President Reagan sent his wife, Nancy, in his place in 1985 when he was recuperating from colon surgery.

The jamboree typically features at least one address from a major political figure, along with sporting events and traditional outdoor Scout activities.

President Roosevelt, a former Scout, addressed the first jamboree in 1937. Since then, five presidents have addressed the group. Richard Nixon attended three times, twice as vice president and once as president.

Not all Scouts fretted about Clinton’s no-show.

″I really don’t care,″ said Mike Cook, 17, from Hillsboro, Ore.

Fellow Hillsboro Scout Trent Grimm, 16, nodded agreement. ″We weren’t really expecting it anyways.″

Rumors flew that Clinton would appear or perhaps send Vice President Al Gore instead. But Boy Scout spokesman Darryl Ewing said it was clear by Saturday night that the president wasn’t coming.

The Scouts and thousands of visitors sat on the grass Sunday night and listened to country music singer Louise Mandrell, whose racy stage show had the Scouts whooping.

The jamboree, which concludes Tuesday, drew Scouts from every state and more than 50 foreign countries.

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