MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The NFL “take-a-knee” protest is suddenly part of a southern Minnesota Congressional race.

A new Republican ad from the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee attacks the Democratic candidate for supporting the right to take-a-kneee during the national anthem.

It was a strategy we saw last week when President Donald Trump campaigned in Rochester for GOP candidate Jim Hagedorn. In fact, the
longest sustained applause Trump received at a recent Minnesota rally was for this line:

“Now you have a President who is standing up for America. More than ever before,” Trump said. “We’re standing up for your values. We’re standing up for Minnesota. And we are standing proudly for our national anthem!”

It is part of a strategy to motivate Republican voters, including in Minnesota.

Included in this strategy is a negative ad attacking 1st District Democratic Congressional candidate Dan Feehan, who is an Iraq War veteran with a bronze star for valor.

Here is the text of the ad in full:

“Why does Dan Feehan want to shortchange American troops? ‘Every time the Army complains, every time the Marine Corps complains, I ask them to please stop. Stop complaining.’ Look who’s paying him. Feehan works at a liberal D.C. organization bankrolled by George Soros. Chief financier of the global left and anti-American causes. Feehan sold out to extremists. Celebrating Colin Kaepernick’s protests of our national anthem. Dan Feehan. Just another liberal sellout.”

This is the line that caught our attention: Feehan sold out to extremists. Celebrating Colin Kaepernick’s protests of our national anthem.”

That’s a DISTORTION of Kaepernick’s protest, and what Feehan said about it.

Kaepernick’s take-a-knee movement is NOT about the national anthem.

It’s a protest against police violence and racial inequality.

And according to public opinion polls, it’s dividing America.

A September poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that 54 percent of Americans believe the NFL national anthem protest is not appropriate.

Forty-three percent believe it is appropriate.

A breakdown by political party is even more interesting:

72 percent of Democrats say it is OK.

But 88 percent of Republicans say it is not.

Republicans are using the national anthem in campaigns across the country, including Georgia governor candidate Brian Kemp, who says he is a proud conservative “and I stand for our national anthem.”

In Texas, GOP Sen. Ted Cruz is running a digital ad featuring a Vietnam veteran who lost both his legs in battle who says, “I’m not able to stand, but I sure expect you to stand for me.”

And in Tennessee, Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn ran ads in which she says: “I stand for our veterans, the president, and The Star Spangled Banner.”

We looked at all of the Feehan tweets about Kaepernick and the NFL protest, including retweets and his use of the hastag #VeteransforKaepernick.

In Minnesota, what Feehan supported was Kaepernick’s RIGHT to protest.

Feehan tweeted: “It is the precise use of freedom I fought for on foreign soil.”

We rate this ad deceptive, out of context and mostly false.

The Feehan campaign sent Reality Check this statement responding to the ad:

“During two tours in Iraq, Dan put his life on the line to defend the freedoms of this country. That includes the freedom of nonviolent protest, the freedom to disagree with that protest, and yes, even the freedom for people like Jim Hagedorn and his dark-money friends in Washington D.C. to run political ads that have no basis in fact.

The swift boat attempts to undermine Dan’s professional and lived experience in military readiness, and use out of context statements as he advocates for our Air Force simply serve to underscore his expertise when it comes to national security.

It warrants saying that this type of misleading attack does a disservice to the people of the first district and quite frankly, is an affront to the service of veterans everywhere who fought for these freedoms while people like Jim Hagedorn wrote offensive blog posts attacking these veterans from behind a cushy Washington DC desk.”

The ad is produced by the NRCC.

By law, Feehan’s Republican opponent, Hagedorn, cannot have any coordination with outside groups and is not responsible for the ad.

That’s Reality Check.

Here are some sources used in this story:

‘Shortchange’ ad

NBC/WSJ Poll

Brian Kemp ad

Marsha Blackburn ad

Ted Cruz ad

Story: Feehan backed Kaepernick protest

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