In a fiery speech in Alabama, a state with a history of lynchings and segregation, the President also called for NFL fans to boycott the sport.
Trump said such protests were “a total disrespect of our heritage” and “a total disrespect of everything that we stand for”.
He then asked members of the crowd on Friday night if they’d “love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired?’”
“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
Trump’s fiery rhetoric against people advocating black rights is in stark contrast to his response to the racial violence in Charlottesville after which he said there was “fine people” on both sides, one of those sides being comprised of white supremacists.
A number of NFL players voiced their disgust.
Trump appeared on stage as the latest Republican effort to repeal Obamacare looked to be faltering after Republican Senator John McCain announced his opposition to a measure to repeal and replace the healthcare law. McCain’s opposition could spell doom for the bill, which the Senate may vote on it next week, because Republicans can afford to lose few votes among their own.
When Trump mentioned McCain’s name in front of the arena crowd of more than 7,000, attendees booed lustily, reports Reuters.
Trump expressed optimism that the bill could still pass. “We’re going to do it eventually,” he said.
He also continued to engage in a rhetorical sparring match with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, again referring to him as “Rocket Man” to the crowd’s cheers.
“We can’t have madmen out there shooting rockets all over the place,” Trump said.