Candidate for U.S. Senate, Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) voiced support for NFL players who “take a knee” in protest against the national anthem in a video that has gone viral.
The uproar over O’Rourke’s position on the issue began at town hall in Houston, TX. August 10, when a man from a family of veterans expressed his frustration over people’s approval of NFL players’ protests and asked O’Rourke if he found the protests “disrespectful.”
“My short answer is no, I don’t think it’s disrespectful,” O’Rourke replied. “Reasonable people can disagree on this issue — let’s begin there — and it makes them no less American to come down on a different conclusion on this issue …
“I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up or take a knee for your rights anytime, anywhere, anyplace.”
The candidates’ remarks went viral after NowThisNews tweeted a video of O’Rourke’s remarks set to compelling music. The video has since been retweeted and shared by several celebrities.
Despite the amount of praise the congressman has received from big names like Ellen DeGeneres Kevin Bacon, Stephen King, and LeBron James, O’Rourke’s statements might not fare so well with many Texas voters, whose approval of the NFL has drastically dropped since Colin Kaepernick started the trend of taking a knee in 2016.
University of Texas (UT)/Texas Tribune (TT) released a survey last June which revealed that 47 percent of voters held an unfavorable view of the NFL, compared to the 26 percent who held a favorable view of the league. The poll results come after several NFL players have repeatedly knelt during the national anthem at several football games.
Additionally, the same survey showed that 41 percent of Texas voters said that “if the 2018 general election for U.S. Senator from Texas was held today,” they would vote for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), where 36 percent said they would vote for O’Rourke in the 2018 Senate race. Cruz vehemently expressed disapproval of NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem last year, referring to them as “rich, spoiled athletes disrespecting the flag.”
The senator called out O’Rourke’s remarks at a campaign rally in Corpus Christi, Texas last weekend.
“[O’Rourke] gave a long, long answer that ended with, he quote ‘couldn’t think of anything more American’ than kneeling to protest the national anthem,” Cruz said.
He went on to talk about the patriotism he witnessed while touring several Texas military bases.
“The contrast of every person there having that respect — you know, when Beto O’Rourke says he can’t think of anything more American, I’ve got to admit — I can,” Cruz continued. “Those soldiers, those sailors, those airmen, those Marines, who fought and bled to protect the flag — yeah, that’s something more American.”
The senator later suggested in a tweet that O’Rourke’s backing of NFL kneelers might have less to do with the values of Texas voters and more to do with his motivation to rack up funding from Hollywood donors.