The idea of running for president may turn out to have been one of Donald Trump's more costly business decisions.
Fallout from Trump’s disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants continued on Thursday as left-leaning groups pressed businesses to sever ties with the real estate mogul. The negative publicity could damage the personal brand that makes up a big chunk of Trump's claimed net worth.
Trump pegs the value of his brand at $3.3 billion, more than a third of his claimed net worth of $8.7 billion. Outside estimators have given the brand a much lower value. Forbes, for example, estimates the Trump brand's value at closer to $125 million and his net worth at $4.1 billion.
Many of the companies associated with Trump through licensing agreements are facing attacks on social media. And at least for some, the barrage appears to be working.
The mattress firm Serta announced Thursday it would separate from Trump, tweeting in response to a viral #DumpTrump hashtag that it would not renew its contract with him at the end of the year. The Illinois-based manufacturer currently makes Trump Home iSeries mattresses, with some priced as much as $4,000.
Angelo Carusone, the executive vice president of the liberal group Media Matters who has pushed the #DumpTrump campaign, said Thursday that Trump, who initially made his fortune in real estate, now makes significant amounts of money through licensing agreements in which he allows companies to use his name on products.
In addition to Serta, Carusone said that companies such as PVH clothing, the furniture company Dorya and ELK lighting have licensing agreements with Trump.
Requests for comment from the companies were not immediately returned on Thursday. A request for comment from Trump's campaign also was not immediately returned.
The controversy broke out after Trump's announcement that he was joining the scrum of candidates pursuing the Republican presidential nomination. In his speech, he referred to some Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and drug runners.
Last week, the broadcaster Univision announced it was cutting ties with Trump. NBC followed on Monday and Macy's, which carried a Trump brand of clothing, on Wednesday.
"Companies are finally recognizing what the Dump Trump campaign has been saying for years: that Donald Trump's brand of bigoted bullying is bad for business," Carusone said.
Trump filed suit against Univision and denounced Macy's for "caving" to political pressure.
Some Republicans have sought to distance themselves from Trump, although most have tried to avoid commenting on him.
Several polls have shown Trump with significant support among Republicans, both nationally and in Iowa, which holds one of the earliest contests in the presidential nominating process.
In an interview with the conservative news outlet The Daily Caller, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledged that Trump had hosted a fundraiser for him in 2002 when he was running for a second term.
"His views are not reflective of the immigrant experience. He’s just wrong," said Bush, whose wife is a Mexican immigrant.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in an interview on Fox News, called Trump's comments a "huge error" that "painted with a very broad brush."
"I don't think he's reflecting the Republican Party," Perry said.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki, who is polling toward the bottom of the crowded 2016 field, was more direct.
"I thought that was a reprehensible comment," he said on FOX Business Network. "I’m calling on every other Republican candidate to stand up and say what Donald Trump said is wrong, and they should repudiate it just the way I am now.”
Also on Thursday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said his office is reviewing city contracts with Trump. The mayor's office did not specify which contracts might be at issue. Trump holds the concession for the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point Park in the Bronx, which opened earlier this year.
"Trump’s comments do not represent the values of inclusion and openness that define us as New Yorkers," de Blasio said in a statement. "Our Mexican brothers and sisters make up an essential part of this city’s vibrant and diverse community, and we will continue to celebrate and support New Yorkers of every background.”
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