White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday for his trip to the Indianapolis Colts game over the weekend, which cost American taxpayers an estimated $242,000.
Pence traveled on Air Force Two to the Sunday football game in Indianapolis, only to leave the stadium minutes into the event after several players knelt in protest during a performance of the national anthem.
"The vice president was invited and he attended that game, and I think it's always appropriate for the leader of our country to stand up for the national anthem, to stand up for our flag and to stand up for the men and women who died for it," Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing.
Pence's three-hour flight to the game from Las Vegas, where he was visiting victims of the recent mass shooting, cost about $100,000, according to CNN. The vice president later returned to Los Angeles from Indianapolis, costing an additional $142,500.
A Pence aide said in an earlier statement that the trip had been planned weeks in advance because retired Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who has been floated as a possible GOP candidate for Senate, was set to be honored during the game.
"If the vice president did not go to Indiana for the Colts game, he would have flown back to D.C. for the evening — which means flying directly over Indiana. Instead, he made a shorter trip to Indiana for a game that was on his schedule for several weeks," the aide said.
Pence tweeted on Sunday that he left the game earlier because he and President Trump "will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our national anthem."
"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," he said.