Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke said he doesn't believe taking a knee during the national anthem is not disrespectful, and he explains why. (Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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Republican Sen. Ted Cruz blasted his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke for supporting NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem.
“When Beto O’Rourke says he can't think of anything more American (than kneeling to protest the national anthem), I gotta admit, I can,” Cruz said on Saturday during a campaign stop in South Texas.
The senator was responding to comments made by O'Rourke in a YouTube video earlier this month.
Cruz told the crowd in Corpus Christi, Texas, that he had visited a number of military bases last week.
At the end of each day, he explained that every person on the base would get up and stand at attention with their hand over their heart for the national anthem.
"Those soldiers, those sailors, those airmen, those Marines ... " salute the flag area in stark contrast to the football players, he said.
The Texas senator went on to say that the multimillionaire NFL players who kneel during the national anthem are "attacking the police officers who are standing there to protect them."
What did O'Rourke say?
O'Rourke's comments about taking a knee were made in a YouTube video that was recorded at a town hall meeting earlier this month in Houston.
In the video, O'Rourke was asked how he felt about kneeling for the national anthem and whether or not it was disrespectful.
The congressman gave a lengthy answer that ended with him saying he couldn't think of "nothing more American."
Here's his answer, in part.
The freedoms that we have were purchased not just by those in uniform, and they definitely were. But also by those who took their lives into their hands riding those Greyhound buses, the Freedom Riders in the deep South in the 1960s who knew full well that they would be arrested, and they were, serving time in the Mississippi State Penitentiary.
Rosa Parks getting from the back of the bus to the front of the bus. Peaceful, nonviolent protests, including taking a knee at a football game to point out that black men, unarmed; black teenagers, unarmed; and black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability and without justice.
And this problem — as grave as it is — is not gonna fix itself, and they’re frustrated, frankly, with people like me and those in positions of public trust and power who have been unable to resolve this or bring justice for what has been done and to stop it from continuing to happen in this country. And so nonviolently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it. That is why they’re doing it, and I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up or take a knee, for your rights anytime, anywhere, anyplace.
Earlier this month, the Cook Political Report changed its rating of the race from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican."
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