President Barack Obama will reportedly speak at the South by Southwest conference, film, and musical festival in Texas on Friday—the same day as the funeral of former First Lady Nancy Reagan.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Democratic party hopeful Hillary Clinton will attend the funeral of Reagan, who died last week at the age of 94, in California. She will be buried by her husband, former President Ronald Reagan.
“The president will not attend,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed Tuesday, according to NBC News. “The president is traveling in Texas.”
Obama also skipped the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a few weeks ago, but he paid his respects a day before while his body laid in repose. Vice President Joe Biden attended the funeral.
Former Rep. Michelle Bachmann slammed Obama for not attending the late First Lady’s funeral, saying he’s “classless,” per The Hill.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential candidate, said Obama probably should go to the funeral.
“I want to be fair, and I’m as anti-Obama’s policies as anyone running for president, but I don’t know exactly what it is he has going on at the same time that wouldn’t allow him to do it,” he said. “Being president’s an important job, and I would have liked him to have gone.”
The Obamas issued a statement about Nancy Reagan.
“Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House. She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice,” the Obamas said.
Among those who had RSVP’d for the service were former President George W. Bush and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush; former first lady Rosalynn Carter; first lady Michelle Obama; and former first lady Hillary Clinton.
“No doubt about it, the most important of her special requests was that she be laid to rest right next to the president, as close as possible,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library.
“The way the tomb is constructed,” he continued, “her casket will literally be set forth in the ground inches from President Reagan’s.”
The hour-long service, to which approximately 1,000 people have been invited, is to take place on the library’s lawn. On a clear day the gravesite affords visitors ocean views.
Those with White House connections who have said they will attend include President Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia Nixon Cox and President Lyndon Johnson’s daughters Lynda Bird Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson. Other guests will include Katie Couric, Chris Matthews, Newt and Callista Gingrich, Anjelica Houston, Wayne Newton and Mr. T, the Ronald Reagan Foundation said Wednesday. Mr. T was involved in Mrs. Reagan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug efforts during the 1980s.
Capt. Christopher Bolt, commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan, will also be in attendance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.