Democrat Tim Ryan says he didn't put his hand over his heart when the national anthem was played at the presidential debate because of "absent-mindedness," not as a sign of protest.
Tim Ryan campaign feels the need to issue a statement on the National Anthem issue from last night. pic.twitter.com/e94kvAVgIK
— Ben Pershing (@benpershing) July 31, 2019
The Ohio congressman was the only one of the 10 candidates at the Detroit debate not to place a hand over their heart during "The Star-Spangled Banner" Tuesday night.
Ryan stood with his hands clasped in front.
Critics called Ryan out on social media, saying he was disrespectful and questioning whether it was a protest similar to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick's kneeling during the anthem.
Ryan's campaign says in a statement he wasn't protesting and "didn't mean to make any statement."
The campaign calls it "a moment of absent-mindedness while on a debate stage that won't happen again."