Tim Ryan, a congressman from Ohio and a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, turned some heads at Tuesday’s debate when he didn’t salute the flag during the playing of the national anthem.
Now, he claims he didn’t disrespect the flag on purpose.
While “The Star-Spangled Banner” played prior to the start of the debate, Ryan was the only one out of 10 Democratic candidates who did not put his hand over his heart.
As the Washington Examiner noted, Marianne Williamson initially failed to put her hand over her heart as well, but eventually did so.
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) July 31, 2019
Ryan caught some flak from plenty of conservatives.
While it wasn’t immediately clear why he didn’t salute the flag, some thought he was attempting some form of protest.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, of course, started the trend of protesting the national anthem by kneeling during the 2016 NFL season.
But Ryan insists he wasn’t protesting, with a spokesperson for his campaign claiming it was nothing more than “a moment of absentmindedness.”
“Congressman Ryan wasn’t protesting and didn’t mean to make any statement last night in Detroit, it was a moment of absentmindedness while on a debate stage that won’t happen again,” the spokesperson told The Hill.
“He was, in fact, singing along with the choir to honor our country,” the statement added.
“Congressman Ryan loves our country and will continue to honor the flag during the anthem in future events, as he has in countless events in the past.”
Ryan expressed similar sentiments after the debate in an interview with ABC News, thought he wasn’t as clear on why he did not put his hand over his heart.
“No, not really,” Rep. Tim Ryan says when asked if he has anything to say about causing a stir for being the only candidate for not putting his hand on his heart during the national anthem at #DemDebate.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 31, 2019
“I love this country as much as everybody else,” the congressman said.
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