(CBS NEWS) – President Trump renewed his attacks on NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, claiming they don’t know what they’re protesting.
Mr. Trump took to Twitter Friday to say from his New Jersey golf course that “most of them are unable to define” what they’re demonstrating against. Instead, the president tweeted players should “Be happy, be cool!”
The president’s tweet comes after numerous player demonstrations took place during the national anthem at several early NFL preseason games Thursday night. Players have been protesting police killings of black men, social injustice and racism as they kneel. Mr. Trump has repeatedly attacked the players for kneeling, and the NFL for allowing it.
The president said players “make a fortune doing what they love” and that those who refuse to stand “proudly” for the anthem should be suspended without pay.
The NFL instituted a policy earlier this year requiring players to stand for the national anthem, but put the brakes to it.
Mr. Trump has told associates that he believes the anthem issue is a winning one that riles up his base. Football season officially begins in less than a month, just as the president and Republicans need all the support they can get ahead of the November midterm elections.
The president’s criticism of athletes, particularly black athletes, has become a point of contention. Last week, the president attacked NBA star LeBron James, who had criticized the president on CNN.
“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do,” the president tweeted.
First Lady Melania Trump, through her spokeswoman, broke with her husband to praise the athlete’s work in the community.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)