'Hillary, please run again!' Trump chides former rival for stance on NFL protests

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump gleefully urges Hillary Clinton to run for president again.
  • He claims her stance on athlete protests during the national anthem is why she lost last year's election.
  • Trump calls for NFL teams to suspend players who kneel during the national anthem.
Trump: NFL should suspend players if they kneel

The 2016 election goes on.

On Monday, President Donald Trump gleefully urged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president again in 2020. He also suggested that her stance on professional athletes protesting racial inequality during the national anthem is an example of why she lost the election in November.

"Is she going to run? I hope. Hillary, please run again! Go ahead," the president said during a news conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

He then said Clinton's support of NFL players who choose to kneel during the national anthem was "wrong." During a public appearance in England, Clinton reportedly defended the players' right to demonstrate against racial injustice, saying it does not go against the national anthem or the American flag.

A Clinton representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Trump has been an outspoken critic of the players' practice, even urging NFL owners to "fire" a "son of a b----" who protests. He dialed back the rhetoric slightly Monday — but still called for suspensions for players who protest.

Critics have questioned whether it is appropriate for the president to suggest how team owners should handle the situation.

Athletes who kneel during the national anthem, most notably unsigned free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have said their protests are not meant as disrespect to the military, as Trump has repeatedly charged. They say they want to bring attention to flaws in America's justice system.

On Sunday, Kaepernick's legal team announced he filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing the owners of collusion. Kaepernick, a former starter in a Super Bowl, has failed to secure even a backup role this year.

Trump again contended that the protests have cost the NFL viewers and ticket sales. However, a changing media landscape, shifting viewing habits and concerns about player safety caused a dip in NFL viewership well before Trump became involved in the anthem debate.

The league is reportedly seeking to support players' efforts on social justice issues while pushing them to stand during the national anthem.

Here are Trump's full remarks on the issue Monday:

"Oh, I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run? I hope. Hillary, please run again! Go ahead. I think she's wrong. Look — when they take a knee — there's plenty of time to do knees and there's plenty of time to do lots of other things. But when you take a knee — well that's why she lost the election. I mean, honestly — it's that thinking. That is the reason she lost the election. When you go down and take a knee, or any other way, you're sitting essentially for our great national anthem. You're disrespecting our flag, and you're disrespecting our country. And the NFL should have suspended some of these players for one game. Not fire them. Suspended them for one game. And then if they did it again it could have been two games then three games then for the season. You wouldn't have people disrespecting our country right now. And if Hillary Clinton actually made a statement that — in a form sitting down during the playing of our great national anthem is not disrespectful, then I fully understand why she didn't win. I know — I mean, there are lot of reasons why she didn't win including the fact that she was not good at what she did. But I will tell you that is something that I had just heard about and I think that her statement in itself is very disrespectful to our country."