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Viral video of O'Rourke defending NFL player protests racks up more than 44M views
A video of Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke (D) defending NFL players who kneel during the national anthem has reportedly racked up more than 44 million views after going viral earlier this month.
A spokeswoman for NowThis, the media company that produced and published the video of O'Rourke's comments, confirmed to Vanity Fair on Wednesday that the video had garnered more than 44 million views across Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube as of Tuesday.
In the 4-minute video, O'Rourke, responding to a question at a town hall earlier this month, says he "can think of nothing more American" than the protests, which he said were meant to bring attention to African-Americans who are "being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability and without justice."
"And this problem - as grave as it is - is not going to fix itself," he said. "And they're frustrated, frankly, with people like me and those in positions of public trust and power, who have been unable to resolve this or bring justice for what has been done and to stop it from continuing to happen in this country."
"And so nonviolently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it," he continued. "That is why they are doing it. And I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, any time, anywhere, in any place."
O'Rourke's comments came in response to a question about whether or not the Texas Democrat found the protests disrespectful.
The video started to gain traction after O'Rourke's Republican opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), attacked him at a campaign event over his comments.
The video also captured the attention of comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, who said she wanted to meet the congressman last week following the viral video.
DeGeneres confirmed earlier this week that O'Rourke will appear on the Sept. 5 episode of "Ellen."