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President Obama is skipping Nancy Reagan’s funeral to attend SXSW

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 1987 file photo, then first lady Nancy Reagan watches an anti-drug musical titled "Just Say No," performed by teenage students from the Chantilly, Va., High School Drama Department at the Cameron Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. Reagan, who died Sunday, March 6, 2016, is perhaps best known for her "Just Say No" to drugs and alcohol campaign. Three decades after the campaign's heyday, prevention experts credit it with spawning a new generation of research into the best ways of reducing drug abuse. But they also say that many of the fear-based tactics it embraced didn't work. (AP Photo/Scott Stewart, File)
AP Photo/Scott Stew
Obama said no.
By Alice Truong
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The funeral of former US first lady Nancy Reagan is taking place Friday (March 11) in Simi Valley, California. While Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama will be in attendance to pay their respects, US president Barack Obama will instead be at South by Southwest, the annual music-film-tech confab held in Austin, Texas.

Obama is the keynote speaker at the conference and will be interviewed on stage by Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune.

His absence at Reagan’s funeral, taking place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, isn’t out of the ordinary. According to the New York Post, US presidents have not attended the funerals of former first ladies in recent decades.

But that’s not stopping Fox News from calling it a “presidential snub.” The outlet also noted that Obama did not attend the funeral of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia in February. (He paid his respects with the first lady the day before.)

In a statement on March 6, the Obamas praised Reagan for “redefin[ing] the role” of the first lady. Obama also signed a proclamation to lower the flags at all federal government buildings on March 7 “as a mark of respect.”

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