President Donald Trump on Monday morning went on Twitter to castigate NFL players who kneeled for the national anthem the prior day, arguing the issue has "nothing to do with race."
Several NFL players on Sunday kneeled, sat, linked arms, or even stayed in the locker room during the national anthem after Trump said that league owners should not tolerate players disrespecting the American flag.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired,'" Trump said in Alabama on Friday while campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange (R., Ala.).
Two days later, before any football games were played, Trump continued his campaign against players who kneel for the anthem, saying teams should "fire or suspend" them.
After players responded to Trump's comments by kneeling in greater numbers, the president noted on Twitter that some fans booed their actions.
"Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of the total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!" Trump wrote.
He added that playing the national anthem at sporting events is about respect for the United States, and is not an issue about race.
"The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race," Trump wrote. "It is about respect for our Country, Flag and the National Anthem. NFL must respect this!"
Trump appeared to be responding to critics who argued he was stoking racial divisions because many of the players' actions were meant to protest racial injustice.
The president also praised NASCAR owners for coming out against kneeling for the national anthem. Several owners said Sunday that they would not tolerate racers who launched such protests, with some threatened to fire those who did not stand.
"So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won't put up with disrespecting our Country and our Flag- they said it loud and clear!" Trump tweeted.
Trump ended his tweetstorm with a message containing the hashtag, "#StandForOurAnthem."