By Elan Bird
(CNN) — New England Patriots player Alan Branch said he chose not to visit the White House Wednesday because of President Donald Trump’s past sexist remarks that were caught on an Access Hollywood video.
“It’s disgusting the way that he talks about women and I just can’t deal with it and that’s why I have no interest in going and shaking his hand,” Branch told CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight.” “I’ve gotta go back home and look my daughters in the eye, and I don’t want them to view me in a different light just because I did that.”
Branch was referring to Trump’s taped comments that were caught on a hot mic in 2005 while he awaited an Access Hollywood interview. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the video last October during the 2016 presidential campaign. In the video, Trump is heard making offensive comments about women.
The video triggered instant backlash and ultimately caused the then-presidential candidate to issue an apology.
“I don’t understand still to this day, especially with how many women went out there and voted for him,” he said. “I’m a man, and I was sickened by that and it still happened. Everybody has their free choice of who they wanted, but that’s not a person I want to represent me even though he is. He is President of the United States. He happens to represent me, but I’m not going to go out of my way to go meet the guy when I don’t have to.”
Branch is among numerous Patriots players who opted out of the visit for various personal and political reasons. Not all of these players had chosen to speak about their decisions, but Branch felt he needed to.
“I just felt like I had to say something just because I don’t want my daughters to see me and be like, ‘that’s my dad and he doesn’t believe in women being treated like this,’ because I don’t. I’m very against it and I’d hate for my son, you know, to see me go to the White House and act like it’s okay to do whatever you want if you’re a celebrity,” he said.
Asked if he had concerns about repercussions from the Patriots organization for speaking out, Branch was confident in his decision.
“I’m just saying what I feel and I feel like the organization is a great organization and, you know, I don’t think that’s their organization that would give me repercussions for saying something I felt during my own off time and they usually have everybody have their own voice there, as long as it’s not distracting towards the season or anything and we’re not playing right now, so I feel like I’m pretty good.”
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