Even though South Carolina doesn’t have an NFL team, that didn’t stop President Donald Trump from bringing up the subject of player protests during his visit to the Palmetto State Monday.
Trump visited Greenville to attend a fundraiser for S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster. During his speech at the event, Trump discussed a number of topics, including the NFL player protests which has fast become one of his favorite talking and tweeting issues.
It gained momentum in late September when Trump inflamed the sports world by saying players who protest police brutality during the Star Spangled Banner by refusing to stand or conducting other acts of defiance should be fired.
“We took it up very strongly and we feel very strongly about it. Its really set us on the right path,” Trump said in Greenville, which is where one of the first restaurants turned off the NFL on Sunday’s.
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He’s continued to bring up the issue since, even threatening to financially penalize the NFL. He broached the subject in front of the crowd of supporters Monday when taking a shot at another of his favorite targets – Hillary Clinton.
On Sunday, Clinton defended NFL players who knelt during the national anthem, saying kneeling is a “reverent” position that is not against “our anthem or our flag.”
Trump pounced, saying Clinton was wrong and players who kneel are wrong. He offered his solution to stop the protests.
“The NFL, what they should do, you fine them,” quickly changing his stream of though on the issue. “First of all, a lot of people aren’t watching the NFL now. Lot of people aren’t watching and it’s actually sad.
“All they have to do is say, ‘do the kneel, you’re out for one game, right? You do another kneel, you’re out for two games. You do another one, you’re out for three games, and you do another one, you’re out for the season,” Trump said to a round of enthusiastic applause and cheers.
That prompted Trump to continue his examination of the NFL player protests.
“And they have the right to do that,” Trump said, not talking about the players’ First Amendment rights, but the owners and NFL executives, including commissioner Roger Goodell. He reasoned they have the right to ban the players for the protest.
That flies in the face of what the ACLU’s national legal director told The Washington Post Monday. David Cole said if the NFL acts because of Trump’s threat to punish the league, players could legitimately claim that their First Amendment rights have been violated.
Undeterred, Trump continued.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with the commissioner. Why doesn’t he do this?” Trump asked. “Cause the people of this country do not want to see disrespect for our flag, for our anthem and our country itself.”