President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the boycott of Goya Foods, called for by his detractors after the company’s CEO praised the president at a White House meeting earlier this month, had backfired.
“The Radical Left smear machine backfired, people are buying like crazy!” Trump said in a tweet, in which he said Goya Foods “is doing GREAT.”
Trump’s message of support for Goya Foods, the biggest Hispanic-owned food label in the country, comes after the company’s CEO Robert Unanue made sympathetic remarks about Trump, comparing the president’s entrepreneurialism to that of his grandfather’s.
“Our company was founded in 1936 by my grandfather, who left Spain at only 18 years old. Did not know where he was heading, but he was heading and looking for opportunity and prosperity, and he found it in this great country,” Unanue said at a July 9 event at the White House.
“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder. And that’s what my grandfather did: He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper,” Unanue said on the occasion of Trump’s signing of an executive order on the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.
Unanue’s remarks sparked ire among Trump’s critics, with celebrities and politicians, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, denouncing the brand or calling for Goya boycotts.
“Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain. Americans should think twice before buying their products. #Goyaway,” Castro wrote in a tweet.
Unanue remained unapologetic in the face of the backlash, telling Fox News that the pushback he and his company faced amounted to “suppression of speech.”
The attack on Goya prompted White House adviser and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump to come to its defense. She posted a photo of herself holding a can of Goya brand black beans, with the caption, in English and Spanish: “If it’s Goya, it has to be good. Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno.”
If it’s Goya, it has to be good.
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno. pic.twitter.com/9tjVrfmo9z
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 15, 2020
Her post sparked backlash, however, with some media reporting that as an official White House adviser, she may have violated federal ethics rules that prohibit endorsement of a specific brand.
“Executive branch employees may not use their Government positions to suggest that the agency or any part of the executive branch endorses an organization (including a nonprofit organization), product, service, or person,” the U.S. Office of Government Ethics guideline says.
CNN cited former director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub as saying that “the Goya tweet was an ethics violation.”
The White House issued a statement Wednesday denouncing the criticism leveled against the president’s daughter.
“Only the media and the cancel culture movement would criticize Ivanka for showing her personal support for a company that has been unfairly mocked, boycotted and ridiculed for supporting this administration—one that has consistently fought for and delivered for the Hispanic community,” White House spokeswoman Carolina Hurley said in a statement.
“Ivanka is proud of this strong, Hispanic-owned business with deep roots in the U.S. and has every right to express her personal support,” Hurley added.
In an apparent further show of support for the backlash against Unanue’s company, the president posted a photo of himself in the Oval Office, giving a thumbs-up as several Goya brand items were arranged on the table before him.
Unanue earlier announced his company would be making a significant donation of food at a time when many American families were facing economic hardship amid the pandemic.
“Our employees and some partners we have in the industry wanted to donate 1 million cans of Goya chickpeas and a million pounds of food,” he said.
“We’re very proud to give back to this nation, to the food banks which are going to be needing some of that important food—something that we do all year. But in particular, at this special time, we wanted to make that gift,” he said.