CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel accused President Donald Trump of trying to divide the nation in criticizing NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, calling the president’s comments a “cynical ploy to distract people” from his administration’s failures.

The mayor said presidents are supposed to bring the nation together, but he said Trump’s provocative statements and Tweets about the kneeling protests sought to divide Americans.

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“There’s a part of me that also thinks it was a cynical ploy to distract people from what was happening on health care, what was not happening in Puerto Rico, and what they were attempting to do on health care but also on North Korea,” the mayor said.

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Emanuel said the country’s ideals encourage those who dissent to speak up, and that takes nothing away from their patriotism.

He also pointed out an irony in Gov. Bruce Rauner making public statements in support of the president’s feelings about athletes kneeling for the national anthem, but staying quiet on other issues.

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“He hasn’t told you where he’s going to be on an abortion bill as governor, but he told you where he was going to be on it as a candidate. He hasn’t taken a position on the Republican health care plan that would leave thousands upon hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans with less health care, if not any. But he has taken a position on what Donald Trump said over the weekend,” Emanuel said.