Facing a backlash, Atlanta-based Home Depot sought to distance itself from billionaire co-founder Bernie Marcus after he pledged to back President Trump’s bid for re-election in 2020.
Calls to boycott the retailer took off this week on social media as news spread that Marcus told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution late last month that he plans to support Trump’s bid for another term.
“If you plan on buying a hammer, wood, or ANY home improvement items from Home Depot, you may as well send donations DIRECTLY to trump’s 2020 campaign,” read one tweet under the hashtag #BoycottHomeDepot.
Home Depot spokeswoman Margaret Smith said in a statement to NPR that Marcus retired more than a decade ago and is not speaking on behalf of the company. “In fact, as a standard practice, the company does not endorse Presidential candidates,” she said.
It was unclear Wednesday whether the calls for a boycott had gained traction.
But the threat was enough that Trump took to Twitter to express support for Marcus, whom he called a “patriotic & charitable man,” and to rail against the boycott, which he said was led by people who are “vicious and totally crazed.”
“More and more the Radical Left is using Commerce to hurt their ‘Enemy.’ They put out the name of a store, brand or company, and ask their so-called followers not to do business there,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “They don’t care who gets hurt, but also don’t understand that two can play that game!”
Indeed, Trump himself has often used boycotts as a means of leverage. Just last month, he urged his more than 60 million Twitter followers to boycott AT&T, apparently in retribution for the coverage of him by its subsidiary CNN.
“I believe that if people stoped using or subscribing to @ATT, they would be forced to make big changes at @CNN, which is dying in the ratings anyway,” the president tweeted on June 3. “It is so unfair with such bad, Fake News! Why wouldn’t they act.”
Over the years, Trump has asked consumers to shun several U.S. entities.
Among the boycotts Trump has endorsed: Macy’s after the retailer cut ties with the then-presidential candidate over controversial remarks about immigrants from Mexico, Harley-Davidson over a plan to move some of its production overseas and NFL games over player protests during the national anthem.
Many people on social media were quick to express their support of Trump and Home Depot.
“Ridiculous,” was how one person characterized the boycott calls in a tweet. “I’m heading out tomorrow to shop my heart out at their store. Thank you Home Depot for supporting President Trump.”
In his interview with the Journal-Constitution, Marcus said that while Trump “sucks” at communication, the president has “got a businessman’s common sense approach to most things.”
Marcus’s support of Trump is not new. The 90-year-old donated more than $7 million to Trump’s 2016 presidential run, according to OpenSecrets, a project of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Forbes estimates Marcus’s net worth at $5.9 billion. He told the Journal-Constitution that he has given away some $2 billion to philanthropic causes worldwide and plans to donate the bulk of his wealth after his death.
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.