If Mike Pence wanted publicity for his actions at Sunday’s Indianapolis Colts game — well, he got it.
Pence left early from the Week 5 game at Lucas Oil Stadium in protest of several San Francisco 49ers players kneeling during the national anthem, the Vice President said in a tweeted statement.
Pence’s decision has been met with criticism, however, as some have accused him of staging the whole thing as a publicity stunt — and President Donald Trump did little to dispel that rumor. After admitting Sunday he asked Pence to leave the game if any player knelt, Trump doubled down Monday, saying the Vice President’s trip to Indy was “long planned.”
Pence, a Colts fan, indeed had planned to attend this game for quite some time to watch the team celebrate quarterback Peyton Manning, one of his aides said in a statement, via CNN. He flew from Las Vegas to Indianapolis to catch the game, then flew back West to California shortly after the national anthem.
But according to those on the scene, it looked like Pence also planned to leave early. Pool reporters covering the Vice President were asked to stay in their vans when Pence entered the stadium and were told there was a chance he might not stay long.
Officials confirmed that Pence discussed this plan with Trump and was prepared to leave if any player didn’t stand for the anthem.
Niners safety Eric Reid criticized Pence after the game for what he called a “PR stunt” — and apparently that’s not far from the truth.
Pence’s entire trip to and from Lucas Oil Stadium cost an estimated $242,500, according to CNN.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Patrick Breen/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK