Colin Kaepernick said Monday's presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was "embarrassing to watch" and that both candidates are "proven liars."
The outspoken San Francisco 49ers quarterback has captured national headlines over the past month by taking a knee during the national anthem and helping shine a light on issues of police brutality and racial inequality. Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon from the 49ers locker room, Kaepernick was asked if he watched the presidential debate.
"To me it was embarrassing to watch that these are our two candidates," Kaepernick said. "Both are proven liars. It almost seems like they're trying to debate who's less racist."
Trump on a Seattle radio station last month called Kaepernick’s protest “a terrible thing.” Trump added, “And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try, it won’t happen.”
Kaepernick on Tuesday responded and said, “That’s a very ignorant statement, that if you don’t agree with what’s going on here and that if you want justice and liberty and freedom for all that you should leave the country.
“He always says ‘Make America Great Again.’ Well, America’s never been great for people of color. And that’s something that needs to be addressed. Let’s make America great for the first time.”
Clinton and Trump's first face-to-face showdown Monday night was confrontational from the start, with Trump frequently trying to interrupt Clinton and speaking over her answers. Clinton was more measured and restrained, often smiling through his answers, well-aware of the television cameras capturing her reaction.
The two nominees are locked in an exceedingly close presidential race and competing vigorously to win over undecided voters. The first debate was watched by some 80 million people.
Kaepernick appears to not favor any of the candidates, and said "At this point, in talking to one of my friends, you have to pick the lesser of two evils, but in the end, it's still evil."
Kaepernick since August has taken to kneeling before games during the national anthem to raise awareness to issues of police brutality and racial inequality.
On Friday, the 49ers quarterback was joined by the Castlemont High School football team when he visited students and attended their game.
When the first strains of the national anthem floated across the field and Kaepernick knelt, the high school football players lay on the ground with their hands up in the air.
Social unrest has rocked the United State recently. Police shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte have spawned massive demonstrations and even riots. Amid this social landscape, Kaepernick’s ongoing protest has ignited a maelstrom of conflicting reactions.
His face will grace the cover of Time magazine next month, but he has also received death threats and a recent poll reflects his unenviable achievement of being the most disliked player in the National Football League.
Closer to home, the quarterback has had not only the 49ers head coach Chip Kelly in his corner, but even a muralist, who created artwork on the side of an Oakland wall to remind Kaepernick, “We got your back.”
CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco and The Associated Press' Josh Lederman and Lisa Lerer contributed to this report.