Billionaire Bernard Marcus, The Home Depot cofounder, probably never thought that his public endorsement of Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump for President would turn sour for the home improvement and construction products retailer.
It all started with a provocative headline in Liberal America, a self-described “devoted” liberal web site: “Home Depot Founder Endorses Trump, Angles To Build Wall On Mexican Border.”
The June 6 article, written by Andrew Bradford, accuses Marcus of endorsing Trump to try to position The Home Depot to profit from Trump’s proposed wall on the border with Mexico. “…I have a sneaking suspicion that Bernie Marcus is only lining up behind Trump because he’s counting all the money he can make selling supplies for that famed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that the Donald has promised to build,” says Bradford.
Marcus, who was Home Depot’s first CEO and served as Chairman of the Board until retiring in 2002, endorsed Trump in an article published June 1st in RealClear Politics, pledging to “help him at every turn” to send him to the White House.
Marcus said nothing about Mexico, Trump’s proposed border wall or his plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, most of whom are Mexicans.
The Home Depot took the unusual step of disassociating the company from its cofounder’s endorsement of Trump. “Bernie Marcus retired from the company 14 years ago, so he is not speaking on behalf of The Home Depot. The company does not endorse Presidential candidates,” Stephen Holmes, Director of Corporate Communications at The Home Depot, told me.
A representative for Bernie Marcus said he was traveling and could not be reached for comment.
But Liberal America’s extrapolation, or “sneaking suspicion,” was enough to trigger an online drive calling for consumers to boycott The Home Depot in the U.S. and Mexico, where it operates 106 stores.
Christian Paulino Yris Mandragón, who describes himself as a “business owner” from the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, posted on Facebook that he “had just found out” that Marcus “said” he will become Trump’s border wall “main promoter and builder.” Mandragón called for a boycott against The Home Depot and pledge not to give “this (Marcus) racist xenophobic businessman” one more cent. He accompanied his call with two offensive hash tags: #F…DonaldTrump; #F…HomeDepot.
As of Tuesday, Mandragón’s Facebook post had 403,385 shares and 76,000 emoticons. It is not clear whether those counts are accurate.
There is also a move.org petition calling on the Hispanic and Latino community to “boycott and sign the petition” and to “stand up and speak up” against the endorsement of “racist Trump” by Marcus. As of this writing, the petition had gathered 684 signatures.
There are no indications so far, both in Mexico and the U.S., that the call to boycott The Home Depot is having an effect.
Asked about the petition, Holmes told me that The Home Depot “welcomes people to share their opinion.” He declined to say if the company is concerned about the effects that the online campaign could have on sales.