The openly gay soccer forward, who helped lead the U.S. women’s national soccer team to its fourth overall victory at the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sunday, stopped by Anderson Cooper’s CNN show on Tuesday where she was asked what message she would give the president.
“I would say, ‘Your message is excluding people. You’re excluding me. You’re excluding people that look like me. You’re excluding people of color. You’re excluding, you know, Americans that maybe support you,’ ” Rapinoe, 34, revealed.
“We need to have a reckoning with the message that you have, and what you’re saying about, ‘Make America Great Again,’ ” she continued. “You’re harking back to an era that was not great for everyone. It might have been great for a few people, and maybe America is great for a few people right now, but it’s not great for enough Americans in this world.”
Staring into the camera, Rapinoe appeared to be speaking directly to Trump.
“We have a responsibility, each and every one of us — you have an incredible responsibility, as the chief of this country — to take care of every single person, and you need to do better for everyone,” she said.
Rapinoe made headlines in June when comments from January surfaced in which she said she’d refuse to visit “the f—ing White House” if the U.S. women’s national soccer team was victorious in the World Cup.
Trump shot back in a rant on Twitter, telling Rapinoe her words were premature.
“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” Trump tweeted. “We haven’t yet … invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose.”
“Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team,” he added. “Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!”
Asked about her comments on CNN, Rapinoe told Cooper that she wished she wouldn’t have cursed so much, but that she stood by her decision and that her teammates backed her up.
“I don’t think anyone on the team has any interest in lending the platform that we’ve worked so hard to build and the things that we fight for and the way that we live our life,” Rapinoe said. “I don’t think that we want that to be co-opted or corrupted by this administration.’
"Your message is excluding people. You're excluding me. You're excluding people that look like me. You're excluding people of color. You're excluding... Americans that maybe support you."— CNN (@CNN) July 10, 2019
USWNT co-captain Megan Rapinoe's message to President Trump. https://t.co/ykaSony9Dx pic.twitter.com/65U76fd3Po
While Rapinoe and the women’s team have yet to be formally invited to the White House, they have received invitations to visit Washington, D.C. from Democratic lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
Those invitations will be happily accepted, Rapinoe said on CNN. “There are so many other people [besides the president] that I would rather talk to and have meaningful conversations that could really affect change in Washington than going to the White House,” she said.
“This is such a special moment for us, and to be able to sort of leverage this moment and talk about the things that we want to talk about and to celebrate like this with the leaders of our country is an incredible moment,” Rapinoe added. “So yes to AOC, yes to Nancy Pelosi, yes to the bipartisan Congress, yes to Chuck Schumer — yes to anyone else that wants to invite us and have a real substantive conversation, and that believes in the same things that we believe in.”
Rapinoe has been an outspoken social and political advocate — becoming one of the first athletes to kneel in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, leading the lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay, and fighting for LGBTQ rights.
And though her views on Trump and his administration have been criticized by some, Rapinoe has remained strong and implored “detractors” to “look hard into what I’m actually saying and the actions that I’m doing.”
“I think that I’m particularly and uniquely and very deeply American,” Rapinoe told ESPN in a July 3 interview. “If we want to talk about the ideals that we stand for, all the songs and the anthem and sort of what we were founded on, I think I’m extremely American.”
She stressed that the United States is a great country and she considers herself lucky to be an American. But it “doesn’t mean we can’t get better” or “shouldn’t always strive to be better.”
“I think that this country was founded on a lot of great ideals, but it was also founded on slavery,” she noted. “And I think we just need to be really honest about that and be really open in talking about that, so we can reconcile that and hopefully move forward and make this country better for everyone.”