Trump says issue of NFL players kneeling ‘has nothing to do with race’

President Donald Trump asserted today that his criticism of players who kneel during the national anthem “has nothing to do with race.”

Rather, the president said the issue is “respect for our country, flag and national anthem.”

Trump appeared to be responding to critics who say his slam of players who kneel in protest is about race.

The president sparked the controversy at a rally Friday night when he declared that football team owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem.

Ron Sachs/CNP/Polaris
Oakland Raiders sit on the bench and stare straight ahead as the national anthem is sung prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field, Sept. 24, 2017,in Landover, Md.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out,'” the president said.
in Huntsville, Alabama, before a largely white crowd.

The president’s comments spurred a strong reaction by NFL players and owners, with many players kneeling or locking arms during the “Star-Spangled Banner” on Sunday as a rebuke to him.

Kneeling during the anthem was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 preseason, a practice he said was to protest against
the treatment of blacks in the United States. Kaepernick is black.

The president on Monday continued hammering his argument that kneeling during the national anthem is unpatriotic.

Marvin Gentry/Reuters
President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally for Senator Luther Strange at the Von Braun Centre in Huntsville, Ala., Sept. 22, 2017.

“It is about respect for our country, flag and national anthem,” he tweeted. “NFL must respect this!”

He also returned to his claim that NFL fans don’t support the player protests.

Trump also sought to contrast the NFL with NASCAR, whose fans he said wouldn’t “put up with disrespecting our country or our flag,”

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