Obama defends Colin Kaepernick, says quarterback is ‘exercising constitutional rights’

HANGZHOU, China — 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 right to make a statement about social issues.

The president was asked at a news conference in China today 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.”

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.