Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is calling on Nike to release its “Betsy Ross Flag” sneakers. Moreover, the Kentucky Republican is also offering to buy the first pair.
Nike decided to ditch the shoes after former NFL anthem-protester and Nike pitchman Colin Kaepernick raised concerns about the Betsy Ross flag evoking painful memories of a “connection to slavery.”
McConnell told the Lexington Herald Leader:
If we’re in a political environment where the American flag has become controversial to Americans, I think we’ve got a problem.
I hope Nike either releases these shoes or some other shoe maker picks up the flag, puts it on a pair of shoes and starts selling it. I’ll make the first order.
Nike has faced tremendous backlash since the Wall Street Journal broke the story that the sportswear giant had decided to scrap the Betsy Ross sneakers at Kaepernick’s request. Though, the backlash hasn’t just come from consumers and Twitter users. Many of the most outspoken critics of the move have come from McConnell’s own caucus.
As Breitbart reported on Wednesday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz launched the #WalkAwayFromNike campaign, to boycott the shoemaker until they reverse course.
“[U]ntil @Nike ends its contempt for those values I WILL NO LONGER PURCHASE NIKE PRODUCTS. #WalkAwayFromNike RT if you agree.”
Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley slammed Nike as well for embodying the worst aspects of our “corporate economy,” as well as catering to “Chinese Communists” while refusing to display the American flag.
Nike is a symbol of everything wrong with the corporate economy. They take advantage of our laws but send jobs overseas for sweatshop wages, partner w repressive regimes, aggressively avoid paying any US taxes, and then tell Americans to shut up and buy their stuff
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 2, 2019
In a statement to the Hill, Nike claims the decision to pull the shoe was made in an attempt to not “unintentionally offend.”
“NIKE made the decision to halt distribution of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.”
Nike has paid a price for the decision. Republican Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona scrapped an incentives package the state had offered Nike for their manufacturing plant.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn