Obama Says Colin Kaepernick's Anthem Protest is "Exercising His Constitutional Right"

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The president was asked at a news conference Monday about Colin Kaepernick's protest gesture.

President Barack Obama says the NFL quarterback who is refusing to stand for the national anthem is the latest in a long line of professional athletes who have exercised their constitutional rights to make a statement about social issues.

The president was asked at a news conference Monday about Colin Kaepernick's protest gesture. Obama said he has no doubt that the San Francisco 49ers player is sincere and "cares about some real, legitimate issues."

"My understanding is he's exercising his constitutional right to make a statement," said the president.

Kaepernick has been heavily criticized since starting his silent protest. He's said it's not an anti-American gesture but a means to bring attention to racial injustice.

Obama says he hasn't paid close attention to the matter. But he adds approvingly that Kaepernick has generated more national conversation about "issues that need to be talked about."

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