Trump-Pence $250,000 “Stunt” Over NFL and “Take the Knee” Demonstrations

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen stand for the National Anthem before their staged walkout, October 8, 2017

Trying to seize headlines and continuing Donald Trump’s fight against the National Football League, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence staged an expensive PR “stunt” on Sunday over the “Take the Knee” demonstrations by NFL players.

Yesterday’s episode tried to revive the furor started by Trump on September 22 when — ignoring the devastation in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria and trying to find a topic for political gain — he told an Alabama crowd that players should be fired if they knelt during the playing of the National Anthem.

Pence flew to Indiana for the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, but left before it started after some players knelt for the anthem.

He then put out a series of tweets:

He continued, “I stand with @POTUS Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.”

Trump’s son Donald Jr. immediately jumped in:

Trump’s Revelation

But Donald Trump soon gave away the game. Far from Pence spontaneously showing his discontent and patriotism, the walkout was planned.

Journalists accompanying Pence, told to stay in their vans outside the stadium, were told by a staffer that “there may be an early departure from the game”. And observers noted that Pence’s tweet priming readers for his stadium appearance was actually from 2014, not Sunday’s game.

Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star pointed to the bill to the taxpayers of flying Pence and his wife Karen to Indianapolis:

San Francisco 49ers’ defensive back Eric Reid — expressing regret that Pence had never bothered to hear the social and political messages of the “Take the Knee” campaign — summarized after the game, “This is PR”:

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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