Rather than attending the funeral of Nancy Reagan on March 11, President Barack Obama will keep to his originally scheduled appearance at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival in Austin TX. He will be the keynote feature. However, First Lady Michelle Obama, who is scheduled to speak at SXSW on March 9, will attend the funeral. Funeral and burial arrangements for Mrs. Reagan are being made in Los Angeles.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on March 8, “The president will not attend” when asked about Mrs. Reagan’s funeral. “The president is actually traveling in Texas on Friday.”
Obama skirted controversy last month when he chose not to attend the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, though he did appear at a memorial service. Vice President Joseph Biden attended the funeral Mass for Scalia at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington DC. Obama also failed to attend the First Lady Betty Ford in 2011, even though Mrs. Obama did.
The SXSW Interactive Festival is an annual conference for digital startups and technologies that runs concurrently with a film and music festival in Austin every year. It has been running continuously since 1987 and the Reagan administration. Stars such as Johnny Cash have been featured in the past.
Obama will meet with the editor of The Texas Tribune, Evan Smith, according to the SXSW website, to talk about “civic engagement in the 21st Century before an audience of creators, early adopters and entrepreneurs who are defining the future of our connected lives.” Obama is expected to call on them to become active in politics and in “fighting climate change.” Thereafter, Obama flies to Dallas where he will spend the night.
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