PRESIDENT Donald Trump has insisted Vice President Mike Pence’s attendance at an American football game in Indiana – which he walked out of when players “took a knee” – was “long planned”.

He appeared to be responding to questions about whether Pence’s brief attendance at the game Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers was a political stunt. Pence left the stadium after some San Francisco players kneeled during the national anthem, a protest that started as a statement against the treatment of ethnic minorities.

Trump tweeted that Pence “is receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!”

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Pence had flown to Indianapolis to watch Peyton Manning’s jersey retirement ceremony.

But at around kick-off he wrote on Twitter that he left because he would not “dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem”.

Mr Trump has made clear his opposition to “taking a knee”, a protest which started as a statement against the treatment of ethnic minorities.

Mr Pence clarified: “While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem.”

The White House also issued a statement from Pence in which he said Americans should rally around the flag.

Trump tweeted: “I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”