An answer that senate candidate U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) gave at an event has now gone viral. He was asked if he thought it was disrespectful for players to take a knee during the national anthem.
“My short answer is no. I don't think it's disrespectful,” said O’Rourke, who is challenging incumbent junior U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) for his senate seat this November.
After paying respect to veterans, thanking them for their service, and thanking civil rights leaders who brought about change, O’Rourke went on to say, “Non-violently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching this game, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it. This is why they are doing it and I can think of nothing more American then to peacefully stand up or take a knee for your rights anywhere, any place, anytime."
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Athletes like Lebron James have retweeted this. So has Ellen Degeneres and other celebrities .But is all the attention giving him a boost in the race?
“This is a moment that Beto O'Rourke can sort of bask in, but depending upon how Cruz tries to turn it in Texas, which is still a red state, means that it is not obviously an ace. The serve could be returned very effectively,” said SMU political professor Cal Jillson.
Cruz did that Thursday, tweeting in part, “Most Texans stand for the flag, but Hollywood liberals are so excited that Beto is siding with NFL players protesting the anthem that Kevin Bacon just retweeted it.”
And this past weekend, Cruz responded to O’Rourke’s comments.
Those soldiers, those sailors, those airmen, those Marines who fought and bled to protect the flag, that's something more American,” said Cruz.
But while this is receiving a lot of attention right now, Texans don’t vote for almost three months.
“There is going to be a lot of water under the bridge over the course of the next 10 or 11 weeks, so this is a moment, but there are going to be lots of other moments,” Jillson added.
An NBC News/Marist poll released Wednesday showed Cruz and O'Rourke were separated by only four points.