Thursday 19 October 2017

VP's attendance at NFL game he walked out of 'long planned', Donald Trump says

Vice President Mike Pence applauds before the NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers (AP)
Vice President Mike Pence applauds before the NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers (AP)

President Donald Trump says Vice President Mike Pence's attendance at an NFL game at the weekend was "long planned".

Mr Trump's comment on Twitter on Monday appears to respond to questions about whether Mr Pence's brief attendance at the NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers was a political stunt.

Mr Pence left the stadium after some San Francisco players "took a knee" during the national anthem.

Mr Trump tweeted that Mr Pence "is receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!"

The former Indiana governor flew in to Indianapolis so he could watch Peyton Manning's jersey retirement ceremony.

But he did not stay long.

Around kick-off, Mr Pence wrote on Twitter that he left because he would not "dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem".

Mr Trump has made clear his opposition to "taking a knee", a protest which started as a statement against the treatment of ethnic minorities.

Mr Pence clarified: "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."

The White House also issued a statement from Mr Pence, in which he said Americans should rally around the flag.

Mr Trump tweeted: "I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen."

Mr Pence, previously the governor of Indiana, is a noted sports fan and it is the second major event he has attended in his home state since taking office in January, after May's Indianapolis 500.

He had wanted to honour Manning, who became the first Indianapolis-era player in Colts history to have his jersey number retired.

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