Did Republican Sen. Tim Scott swipe at Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback and racial justice advocate, in his closing remarks at Wednesday night’s (Nov. 8) GOP presidential debate?
“We should stop choosing victimhood and start choosing victory. We should stop kneeling in protest and start kneeling in prayer,” the U.S. Senate’s only Black Republican said in his call to “turn back to faith, patriotism and individual responsibility.”
Scott barely qualified to appear on the debate stage with the four other candidates – Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy – chasing frontrunner Donald Trump, who was not present at the event.
The Charleston, S.C., native was once considered a potential alternative to Trump but has fallen even further behind the former president in the polls. Scott appeared inconsequential on the stage as major campaign donors focus on DeSantis and Haley. Rather than shaking things up, Scott remained low-key and stuck to his usual themes of patriotism, Christian values, and blaming progressives for the nation’s problems.
Kaepernick, a 2011 second-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, began his now iconic kneeling protest against racism and police brutality on Aug. 14, 2016, by sitting on the bench during the national anthem, according to a Washington Post timeline.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick told reporters after they noticed a pattern by the third game of the preseason.
On Sept. 1, he took a knee during the national anthem, igniting outrage among some and admiration for others who joined the protest Kapaerick started.
In a 2016 interview with Fox News’ Fox and Friends, Scott called the kneeling protest movement “a drastic mistake,” saying the U.S. flag represents something meaningful.
“The flag flies for freedom. And the fact that some of us have to work to make sure that all of us experience that freedom means that we’ve made progress. Because this country is the beacon of light for all of mankind, and anyone that stands up or refuses to stand, I think you’re making a drastic mistake and, you’re bringing the focus to you and not to the underlying issue,” Scott said.
Kaepernick, who helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, paid a price for his protest. He hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016.
In 2017, he sued the league, alleging that team owners colluded to keep him out of the NFL because of his protest. The NFL settled his lawsuit in 2019.