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Donald Trump calls Nike’s decision to embrace Colin Kaepernick “a terrible message”

Colin Kaepernick is part of Nike's ad campaign to honor the 30th anniversary of its "Just Do It" motto.

On the surface, the responses to the somewhat surprising decision of Nike to make Colin Kaepernick a face of the 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” slogan aren’t surprising at all. On the same day the NFL issued a statement about Kaepernick so manicured and delicate that it largely states nothing, President Donald Trump offered up predictable criticism of the advertising effort. But the President ad libbed a caveat that, if heeded by his base, could go a long way toward ending the controversy created by Kaepernick’s decision to stop standing for the national anthem.

I think it’s a terrible message,” Trump told in an Oval Office interview regarding Nike’s decision to partner with Kaepernick. “Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent.”

That relationship apparently doesn’t give the President’s opinion any extra weight. The office he occupies obviously does.

“I think it’s a terrible message that they’re sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it, but I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent,” Trump said. “There’s no reason for it.”

But then he seemed to acknowledge that there is a reason for it, even if he disagrees with that reason.

“As much as I disagree with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement, in another way — I mean, I wouldn’t have done it,” Trump said. “In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it.”

Saying that peaceful protest “is what this country is all about” is a far cry from the knee-jerk reaction from then-candidate Trump that maybe Kaepernick should find another country. And it possibly represents an acknowledgement that Kaepernick and others have the right to peacefully protest during the anthem without being called unpatriotic, un-American, or unfit for continued residence here.

There’s no way the President will be surrendering his all-too-handy device for rallying support and/or distracting from other subjects. But if anyone heeds the viewpoint regarding this country being all about exercising certain freedoms, maybe attitudes regarding Kaepernick and other NFL players who choose to peacefully protest during the anthem will begin to change.