Democratic Presidential Contender Who Didn’t Place Hand on Heart During National Anthem Blames ‘Absentmindedness’

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 31, 2019Politics
Democratic Presidential Contender Who Didn’t Place Hand on Heart During National Anthem Blames ‘Absentmindedness’
Democratic presidential candidates Marianne Williamson, (L-R), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, former Maryland congressman John Delaney, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock take the stage at the beginning of the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre n Detroit, Michigan, on July 30, 2019. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Democratic presidential contender who didn’t place his hand over his heart during the national anthem before the 2020 debate on July 30 suffered from a moment of “absentmindedness,” his campaign claimed.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) was widely criticized for being the only one out of 10 contenders to not place his hand over his heart during the anthem.

“Rep. Tim Ryan didn’t put his hand over his heart during the national anthem. I guess he’s appealing to the Kaepernick wing of the Democratic Party,” said Ari Fleischer, former press secretary in the George W. Bush administration, referring to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

In a statement sent to NTD, Ryan’s team said on Wednesday: “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.”

“He was, in fact, singing along with the choir to honor our country. 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,” the statement read.

The other candidates on stage were: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.); former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas); Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); and author Marianne Williamson.

There were rumors that O’Rourke would kneel during the anthem but he remained standing.

The former representative did invite three football players who garnered national attention in 2017 for kneeling during the anthem as it played before their high school games.

NTD Photo
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) speaks while Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) (L) and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg listen during the Democratic Presidential Debate in Detroit, Michigan at the Fox Theatre on July 30, 2019. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Honored to have Michael, Matthew, and RoJe from Lansing with me tonight. They bravely took a knee so their fellow Americans could stand a little more free,” O’Rourke wrote after the debate, posing with the football players.

Ryan was one of several Democrats who tried portraying some of their opponents, such as Warren and Sanders, as radical. Bullock and Delaney also said that plans like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal were too extreme and would not give the eventual Democratic nominee enough votes to beat President Donald Trump.

When Warren confirmed she would never use a nuclear weapon first, Bullock said that would be unwise.

“I wouldn’t want to take that off the table,” he said.

NTD Photo
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) participate in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN in the Fox Theatre in Detroit on July 30, 2019. (Paul Sancya/AP Photo)

And when Sanders trumpeted his proposal to overhaul the healthcare system, including eliminating private insurance, Ryan pushed back, saying many union members would oppose the plan.

Ryan said that union members who gave away wages in order to get good healthcare would be shafted “because Washington is going to come in and tell them they’d get a better plan” when it wouldn’t necessarily be better for everyone.

The Ohio representative later pushed back after Sanders said his healthcare plan would cover illegal immigrants.

Americans pay for their healthcare, Ryan said. “Undocumented people can pay for their healthcare, too,” he added.

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