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The Latest: Trump: Criticism of NFL players not about race

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The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s criticism of athletes (all times local):

7:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says his criticism of football players who kneel during the national anthem “has nothing to do with race.”

The president says on Twitter on Monday that the issue is “about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”

The president tweeted that many people “booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!”

He also points with pride to NASCAR supporters, writing, “They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!”

About football 200 players decided to stand, kneel or raise their fists during the national anthem at NFL games on Sunday in response to Trump’s calls for players to be fired.

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5:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump has created drama over the last three days by criticizing activist athletes.

He’s drawn criticism for saying football players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired.

The conflict peaked Sunday with Trump’s remarks that had the effect of uniting a newly minted coalition including a growing number of players and coaches, as well as some owners who have backed the president.

Trump told reporters in New Jersey that kneeling was “very disrespectful to our flag and to our country” and “owners should do something.”

Trump pushed back against the suggestion that his critique could inflame racial tensions, arguing: “I never said anything about race.”

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