"I asked @VP Pence to leave the stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country," Trump tweeted, adding he was "proud" of Pence and Second Lady Karen for following his directive:
"At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.”
Pence and the Second Lady had blown from Las Vegas to Indianapolis to attend, leaving immediately after the anthem and flying back to Los Angeles. CNN reported the cost of the flight on Air Force 2 along costs the government about $43K an hour to fly and the round trip being estimated at nearly 5 hours. If so, it was an expensive gesture for taxpayers.
Pence and Mother left the Indianapolis stadium, the former governor issuing a statement: “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”
Trump, wanting to make sure that credit was given where credit was due, took credit for Pence's move. It was a big TV news talker at the time.
It was deemed political theater in some quarters, what with reporters following Pence having been told to wait outside the stadium because he might make an early exit, according to some press reports.
President Donald Trump has not yet weighed in today's newly announced NFL's policy of fining players who refuse to stand on the field during the national anthem, but his NFL Game Walker Outer In Chief, Veep Mike Pence has.
Colts players, meanwhile, stood with arms locked. Pence made headlines last October when, after making a lot of show about plans to attend a game to honor former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. During the national anthem, about 20 49sert players knelt, backed by teammates who put hands on their shoulders.
"#Winning," Pence tweeted in a victory lap:
Previous President Donald Trump has reiterated to reporters his fire-or-suspend stance on NFL kneelers, but made a point of noting he "was not watching the games today, believe me, I was doing other things."
"But I watched a little bit," Trump continued, according to press pool reports, "and I will say that there was tremendous solidarity for our flag and for our country."
"I like Bob very much, we’re friends — he gave me a Super Bowl ring a month ago, right? — so he's a good friend of mine, and I want him to do what he wants to do, but we have a great country, 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."
Trump, speaking to reporters on a New Jersey tarmac before boarding Air Force One, was asked for a reaction to the statement by New England Patriots owner (and Trump supporter) Robert Kraft about being "disappointed" by Trump's recent comments.
Asked a reporter: "Are you inflaming racial tensions, sir?"
Then he tweeted this:
"This has nothing to do with race," Trump said. "I never said anything about race. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag." This has nothing to do with race or anything else.
Update 3:25 pm Trump just tweeted about sports again. "Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!"
Performers included Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton, Ariana Grande, The Roots, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Cage the Elephant and others. The special concert to promote unity took place today at the University of Virginia and was hosted by the Dave Matthews Band.
He then went on to make a passionate speech about the potential of his home state and the country make him "Happy" and then went into a rendition of his smash hit from Despicable Me 2.
During A Concert For Charlottesville: An Evening Of Music And Unity in Virginia, Pharrell Williams joined the ranks of the NFL and dropped to his knees while performing, not to directly protest the National Anthem, but to make a point. His gesture comes after a weekend of football, baseball and tennis players have been taking a knee to silently protest injustice towards people of color. "If I want to get on my knees right now for the people in my city…for the people in my state — that’s what that flag is for," he said.
The event was a response to the recent event in their hometown. It was co-produced by Oath Studios, live streamed to a global audience and directed by Brett Ratner.
Williams' kneeling comes a day after Stevie Wonder took a knee during his performance at the Global Citizen Festival. It was the same performance where Williams later joined Wonder on stage for a duet