Athletic shoe manufacturer New Balance is facing a backlash on social media for comments a company spokesman made in support of President-elect Donald Trump after his victory in Tuesday’s election.

“The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us and frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction,” Matt LeBretton, New Balance’s vice president of public affairs, said in an interview this week with the Wall Street Journal.

The company, which employs about 900 people in Maine with shoe factories in Skowhegan, Norridgewock and Norway, has long opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership, an international trade agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration and opponents say could threaten manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Trump strongly opposed the so-called TPP and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who is likely to become the new Senate minority leader, said Thursday the trade deal would not be ratified by Congress.

LeBretton’s comment sparked immediate controversy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with hundreds of people weighing in both in support of and against New Balance, and some opponents threatening to burn the company’s shoes in protest.

Democrat Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in Tuesday’s election, had supported the agreement negotiated by President Barrack Obama’s administration before coming out against it last year.

LeBretton, reached by phone Friday morning, said the company is not commenting further on Trump and referred to a statement posted on Facebook that says the company supports community, humanity and acting with integrity. That statement, posted Thursday, had drawn more than 1,000 comments both for and against New Balance by Friday morning.


“My loyalty to New Balance ended today,” wrote one woman. “You endorsed a vile excuse for a human being whose policies are going to cause a lot of suffering to people, animals and the environment. My boyfriend and I have bought your shoes and sportswear for decades, now I’d rather go barefoot than wear anything with the NB logo.”

“Support for Hillary would potentially put New Balance, one of the few remaining U.S.-based sneaker companies, out of business,” a man wrote. “The TPP deal would be devastating not only for New Balance, but American manufacturing in general. So take your political ideology elsewhere and let our U.S. companies remain profitable which in turn keeps them in business and Americans employed.”

An image posted on Twitter that has been among several denouncing New Balance after a company spokesman made a statement blasting President Barack Obama and in support of President-elect Donald Trump.

An image posted on Twitter is among several denouncing New Balance after a company spokesman made a statement blasting President Obama and supporting President-elect Donald Trump.

Workers outside the Skowhegan New Balance factory declined to comment Friday afternoon, and a security officer called the police when a reporter arrived.

Brendan Conley, a spokesman for Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, did not respond directly Friday to the statement made by LeBretton, saying in an email that it is “critical that we work to protect and grow jobs across Maine, especially in our state’s manufacturing industry,” adding that Poliquin is “firmly opposed” to the TPP.

Poliquin won re-election Tuesday to the House after making his opposition to the TPP and support for legislation aimed at helping preserve New Balance jobs key components of his campaign against Democrat Emily Cain.

Poliquin refused to say whether he supported Trump throughout the campaign and hasn’t commented on the president-elect since Tuesday’s election.

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