- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2017

President Trump said that he saw “tremendous solidarity for our flag” during NFL games on Sunday, despite some players protesting by kneeling during the national anthem.

“I watched a little bit, and I will say that there was tremendous solidarity for our flag and for our country,” Mr. Trump told reporters Sunday night as he returned to Washington from New Jersey. “I was not watching the games today, believe me — I’m doing other things. But I watched a little bit.”

Having stirred up reaction Friday by saying that NFL club owners should fire players who don’t stand during the national anthem, Mr. Trump said Sunday that he still believes “owners should do something about it.”

“I think it’s very disrespectful to our flag and to our country,” the president said. “We have great people representing our country, especially our soldiers, our first responders, and they should be treated with respect. And when you get on your knee and you don’t respect the American flag or the anthem, that’s not being treated with respect.

Asked by a reporter if he was “inflaming racial tensions,” Mr. Trump said the issue “has nothing to do with race.”

“I’ve never said anything about race,” Mr. Trump said. “This has to do with respect for our country, and respect for our flag.”

Asked about the players’ First Amendment rights, Mr. Trump replied, “We all have rights. But when you’re on that field, and, you know, there’s a situation going on, this is a great, great country, and we have a great flag, and they should respect our flag.”

“They’re making a lot of money,” he said of the players. “I’m not begrudging anything. I’m just saying they have to respect our flag, and they have to respect our country.”

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