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Pence also tweeted out the statement and followed it up with a picture of himself and his wife Karen standing with their hands over their hearts with the caption, “We were proud to stand — with all our Colts — for our soldiers, our flag, and our National Anthem.”
The White House also sent out the photo of Pence standing in an email alert from the Office of the Vice President.
President Trump chimed in on the matter via Twitter, writing “I asked [Vice President Pence] to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and [Second Lady] Karen.”
Pence’s walkout throws fuel on the fire of the continuing controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. The controversy — which has its origins with the then-San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting during the anthem in 2016 — was escalated three weeks ago when Trump told a rally in Alabama, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b– off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'”
Trump further heightened his demands by calling for fans to boycott the NFL. “You will see change take place fast,” Trump tweeted. “Fire or suspend!”
Since then, various teams have taken different actions during the national anthem, with some teams waiting it out in the locker room, others locking arms, and still more players continuing to take a knee.