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Pence Departure From NFL Game Slammed as 'PR Stunt' Orchestrated by Trump

Trump tweeted that he 'asked' Pence to leave the game if any players kneeled during the national anthem

Trump Pence

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stands with Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence and acknowledge the crowd on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence made headlines Sunday afternoon for leaving an Indianapolis Colts game after more than a dozen players on the opposing team—the San Francisco 49ers—kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

While Pence implied that he left the game of his own volition, President Donald Trump tweeted an hour later that he "asked" Pence to "leave [the] stadium if any players kneeled."

Critics immediately slammed the entire episode as a "PR stunt," arguing Trump's tweet is clear evidence that Pence's walk-out was planned in advance. Many also called attention to the taxpayer money spent on flying Pence to Indianapolis from Las Vegas.

As the Washington Post reports, the media pool that arrived at the Colts game with Pence were directed to stay in the van, instead of going into the stadium with the vice president. 

"A staffer told the pool there was a chance Pence may depart from the game early, but did not mention how early," the Post notes.

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