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Trump Hosts Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots At The White House

Apr 19, 2017
Originally published on April 19, 2017 3:12 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

There was no mention of Aaron Hernandez at the White House today where the New England Patriots were making a previously scheduled visit to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. President Trump praised the team for their dramatic come-from-behind win which both the president and Patriots owner Robert Kraft compared to Trump's own victory last November. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: President Trump was beaming as he introduced the Patriots and posed for pictures on the South Lawn along with the team's five Lombardi trophies.

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TRUMP: What a great day it is to be with all of our friends at the White House.

HORSLEY: Some of the Patriots are Trump's friends, and he's a longtime supporter of the team. Even his confidence was shaken, though, when New England fell behind the Atlanta Falcons by 25 points in the third quarter. Trump even walked away from his own watch party at his Florida golf club. But the Patriots never gave up, mounting a comeback as unlikely as Trump's own win three months earlier.

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TRUMP: With your backs against the wall and the pundits, good old pundits - boy, they're wrong a lot, are aren't they - saying you couldn't do it, the game was over, you pulled off the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time.

HORSLEY: Trump ticked through some of the key plays in that game the way he often describes his own run of the electoral map - Danny Amendola's fourth down conversion, Trey Flowers' big sack, a clutch reception by Julian Edelman.

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TRUMP: This Super Bowl victory was a complete team effort. That's the beauty of what they do. They win as a team.

HORSLEY: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was not at the White House today. Brady said in a statement he was attending to some personal family matters. Several other players boycotted the celebration, saying they don't feel comfortable at the White House so long as Trump is president.

Those who did come were treated to a tour of the Oval Office, and tight end Rob Gronkowski even poked his head into the briefing room, asking Press Secretary Sean Spicer if he needed help with a tough question about NAFTA.

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ROB GRONKOWSKI: You need some help?

(LAUGHTER)

SEAN SPICER: I think I got this, but thank you.

HORSLEY: Team owner Robert Kraft gave the president a Patriots jersey and a football helmet. Like Trump, he drew a connection between politics and football.

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ROBERT KRAFT: Overcoming long odds through hard work, perseverance and, most importantly, mental toughness is the foundation of everything that is great about this country.

HORSLEY: Trump recalled a campaign rally in New Hampshire on the eve of last year's election where he wanted to read a letter he'd gotten from Bill Belichick in which the Patriots coach called Trump the ultimate competitor and fighter. Trump said he asked Belichick if it was OK to read the letter out loud. The coach agreed, but first he insisted on a rewrite.

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TRUMP: Now, immediately to me that means he's going to tone it down 'cause what he said was so nice. And you know what he did? He toned it way up. It was much better. It was much better. He made that the greatest letter, and I did very well in that state.

HORSLEY: Instant replay would show that Trump actually lost New Hampshire, but he won the election and the White House, which is why he was there to celebrate today with the Patriots, another team that's persistent, polarizing and ultimately victorious. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF IKEBE SHAKEDOWN SONG, "BY HOOK OR BY CROOK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.