Conservatives are criticizing President Barack Obama for choosing to attend a festival in Texas over the funeral of former first lady Nancy Reagan, especially after a White House official confirmed that the President will instead be speaking at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival on Friday.
First lady Michelle Obama will be attending Mrs. Reagan’s funeral in Simi Valley, California.
Obama’s decision to skip the funeral services immediately drew flak from some conservatives, including 2012 Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann who called the decision “self-centered” and “classless.”
Obama also came under fire when he decided against going to the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month.
Former President George W. Bush and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton have announced their attendance.
Obama’s decision to skip the funeral is not without precedent, however, with the Clintons being absent in the funeral of Pat Nixon in 1993.
President Jimmy Carter also did not attend the funeral of Mrs. Eisenhower in 1979, while President Ronald Reagan snubbed the funeral of Bess Truman in 1982.
During the funeral of Lady Bird Johnson in 2007, George W. Bush did not attend despite having a clear schedule on the day of the funeral.
And in 2011, Obama also skipped the funeral services for former first lady Betty Ford.
The Obamas on Monday released a statement paying tribute to Mrs. Reagan, saying she had “redefined the role” of first lady. They also lauded her advocacy for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.