White House press secretary Sarah Sanders maintained Thursday that President Trump taking a stand against NFL players kneeling during the national anthem isn’t “an us versus them” position.
“This shouldn’t be about the NFL being against the president. This should be about our country coming together to support the flag, support the national anthem. There’s nothing wrong with having pride in the United States. This president’s been very clear on that and certainly is not going to back away from it,” Sanders said during a White House press briefing.
The president sparked a national debate after urging NFL owners to fire players who kneel during the national anthem, and encouraging football fans to tune out games until the protests stop.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the kneeling protest in 2016, and said at the time, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
A Fox News poll released Wednesday showed that 41 percent of registered voters thought kneeling during the national anthem as a protest is appropriate, while 55 percent found it inappropriate. When Fox News did a similar survey in 2016, 32 percent of registered voters found the kneeling appropriate, while 61 percent believed it was inappropriate.
Sanders said that Trump “is simply talking about what we’re for, not about what we’re against…it isn’t an us versus them.”
“This is something that brings our country together. This should be a very unifying moment when the national anthem plays, all Americans should be proud to stand up, salute that flag,” the press secretary added.
Around 200 players kneeled in protest during this past week’s games. Just six players protested the week prior, according to the Associated Press.
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