The Clinton camp says San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick deserves “respect,” but the feeling may not be mutual.
Sen. Tim Kaine, the running mate of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, defended the NFL player’s refusal to stand for the national anthem just a few days after Mr. Kaepernick said that Mrs. Clinton would be in jail if she were someone else.
“You know, you’ve got to respect people’s ability to act according to their conscience,” Mr. Kaine told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos in a Thursday interview.
“I’d do it differently,” Mr. Kaine said. “I think if you really thought about issues and about this country, you’d do it differently, and when I heard him explain his rationale, it didn’t really make that much sense to me. But you’ve got to respect people’s ability to act according to their conscience, so I wouldn’t presume to tell him what to do.”
His comments came a few days after Mr. Kaepernick unloaded on the presidential candidates during an Aug. 29 locker-room press scrum.
“You have Hillary, who’s called black teens or black kids ‘super predators,’” Mr. Kaepernick told reporters. “You have Donald Trump, who’s openly racist. I mean, we have a presidential candidate who has deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison. So what is this country really standing for?”
Mr. Trump responded by blasting the 28-year-old quarterback for his ongoing pre-game protest, calling it a “terrible thing.”
“I have followed it and I think it’s personally not a good thing, I think it’s a terrible thing. And maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try. It won’t happen,” Mr. Trump told KIRO-FM’s Dori Monson in Seattle.
Mr. Kaepernick, who has said he will refuse to stand for the flag as a protest against racial injustice and police brutality, has come under fire from police and military supporters, but he also drew a rebuke from liberal commentator Clay Cane.
In a column for CNN, Mr. Cane said he was “on board” with the quarterback’s demonstration until the anti-Clinton jab.
“It’s irresponsible for Kaepernick to insinuate that Clinton should be in jail, with words that skirt close to the shouts of ‘Lock her up!’ from the crowd during Governor Chris Christie’s remarks at the Republican National Convention,” said Mr. Cane in his op-ed.
Meanwhile, the conservative Media Research Center accused Mr. Stephanopoulos of avoiding Mr. Kaepernick’s anti-Clinton comments during the Kaine interview.
“Maybe Stephanopoulos would have found the time to ask Kaine about Kaepernick bashing Trump if it wasn’t so inextricably sandwiched between two anti-Hillary rants,” said News Busters’ Mike Ciandella.
Mr. Stephanopoulos is a former White House aide to President Bill Clinton and a donor to the Clinton Foundation.