President Trump defended the Washington Redskins‘ name Monday, tweeting that changing it would be the result of the team trying to be “politically correct.”
The president weighed in on the issue three days after the Redskins said it would conduct a “thorough review” of their name following scrutiny from activists and corporations. After the Redskins‘ announcement, the Cleveland Indians also launched a review of their name.
“They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct,” Trump tweeted.
The president also took a shot at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, referring to her as an “Indian” for her claim that she has American Indian ancestry.
“Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!” he tweeted.
The Redskins declined to comment on Trump’s tweet.
They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct. Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
Washington’s review is seen as a precursor for the Redskins to make a change, which many league insiders say they believe will happen. If so, it would mark a major reversal for owner Dan Snyder, who once vowed to “never” change it. Snyder has been adamant that the name honors American Indians.
The move sparked a wide array of reactions, and Trump wasn’t the only politician to opine on the topic Monday. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she was glad the Redskins were “moving in the direction” to make a change, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “it’s about time” Washington took action.
At a press conference, Bowser stopped short of saying a name change would clear the way for the Redskins to return to the District. Though she has been in favor of the Redskins building a new stadium in the city, Bowser made waves last month when she called the team name “an obstacle” during a radio interview.
“You know, I think that the team called Washington ‘anything’ should be playing in Washington,” Bowser said during Monday’s briefing, “and I think there would be a lot of issues. I would hardly say that the name is the only issue that would have the team or Washington choose to have a stadium.”
Bowser did not elaborate on what those issues would be. The Redskins, though, have faced resistance over the years in trying to build a stadium in the District. An effort to secure the federally owned land at RFK Stadium failed last year when Congress did not pass a spending bill that would have transferred the site to the D.C. government — which is seen as a needed first step in a return for the Redskins.
Redskins coach Ron Rivera and Indians manager Terry Francona have said they believe their franchises’ names should change.
Trump’s tweet isn’t the first time a president has referred to the Redskins‘ name controversy. In 2013, then-President Barack Obama told The Associated Press that he would “think about changing it” if he owned the Redskins.
“I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” Obama said.
Obama’s comments, ironically, drew criticism from Trump.
“President should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name - our country has far bigger problems!” Trump tweeted in 2013. “FOCUS on them, not nonsense.”
Since taking office, Trump has been largely complimentary of the Redskins, despite being a frequent critic of the NFL for its handling of protests during the national anthem. In an interview with WMAL in April 2019, he called Snyder a “really good guy” and said he would like to attend a Redskins game at FedEx Field — something he has yet to do.
Snyder donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural campaign in December 2016.
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