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Apple says it won’t sponsor the GOP convention because of Trump

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Donald Trump has proposed a ban on Muslims, referred to Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "murderers," called women "fat" and "shrill," and watched his supporters engage in anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynistic, and racially charged taunts.

And for all those reasons, some of the biggest names in corporate America don’t want to be associated with him.

Apple is the latest in a growing list of companies distancing themselves from Trump, telling Republican leaders the company will not provide any resources or funding to the GOP convention this year in light of Trump’s vitriolic comments on immigration, women, and minorities, Politico reported Saturday.

While breaking ranks with tech giants Facebook, Microsoft, and Google — which have all committed to supporting the conventions — Apple will join Wells Fargo, Hewlett Packard, Ford, Motorola, UPS, JPMorgan, and Walgreens in rolling back sponsorships of the Cleveland, Ohio, event.

It’s a big shift from past election cycles for the iPhone and MacBook company, which has consistently donated generously to both major political party conventions in the past; in 2008 the company donated $140,000 in laptops to the Democratic and Republican parties for the conventions. It’s unclear whether Apple, which according to its company policy "does not make political contributions to individual candidates or parties," will provide resources to the Democratic Party’s convention in Philadelphia. Apple did not immediately respond for comment.

Apple has been in hot water with Trump this year

While Apple, like many Silicon Valley companies, has a liberal-leaning management — Al Gore is on its board of directors and CEO Tim Cook engages in social activism — the company also has a history with Trump this election cycle.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Apple for failing American workers by taking jobs overseas and threatening national security over encryption battles with the FBI.

In response to the company’s legal fight with the FBI over the security features on one of the San Bernardino shooter's iPhones, Trump aligned with other conservative leaders, taking the FBI's side. At the time, it was a position that resonated with the American public; a Pew survey found slightly more than half of Americans wanted Apple to help the FBI unlock the iPhone, nearly equal in numbers between Republicans and Democrats.

Trump went so far as to call for a boycott of Apple products, claiming the company was threatening national security. Apple’s Cook is "looking to do a big number, probably to show how big a liberal he is," Trump said.

At a campaign rally in Las Vegas Saturday Trump brought up Apple again to highlight their most recent patent troubles in China.

"China has turned against them," Trump said of Apple, adding that he is "doing such a service to Apple by even mentioning it. And Tim Cook should send us a lot of money for what I'm doing. But China is now ripping off Apple."

But it is clear that Cook, who has increasingly made a show of his progressive values, isn’t planning on pulling out the checkbook.

This might be a sign that Teflon Trump is getting a little stickier

Official Apple policy toward political advocacy and involvement is relatively standard; It doesn’t engage unless it affects them:

Apple engages in policy discussions where they matter to our business and customers, in areas including privacy, intellectual property, and the environment [...]

We occasionally make contributions for ballot measures and initiatives. For example, we contributed to an initiative in support of public schools in Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, California.

But of the companies that have pulled back their GOP convention sponsorships, few pinned their rational to Trump and his controversial remarks directly. Apple did, in a rare move that not only allowed the company to brand the decision as anti-Trump instead of anti-conservative, but also indicates the era of Teflon Trump may be shifting.

There has been a big effort for companies to take a stand against Trump for his increasingly controversial statements. Rashad Robinson, a spokesman for ColorOfChange PAC, which is leading the push for businesses to step away from the GOP convention because of Trump, told the Huffington Post that "the Apple news raises the bar for other corporations’’:

"Not only has Apple declined to support the Republican National Convention, but they’ve explicitly told Republican leaders that Trump’s bigoted rhetoric is the reason that they’re sitting out," Robinson said. "This is what real corporate responsibility looks like."

It’s long been a belief among pundits that no matter the outrageousness of the comment, Trump can shake off the bad press and foster support. But as Vox’s Matt Yglesias explained in May, polling shows Trump to be increasingly unfavorable among voters, with no signs of him changing his ways:

This stuff all takes perhaps less of a toll on Trump than one might like. But the toll is very real. The result of saturation-level media coverage of Trump is that he is very well-known and very unpopular. The criticism sticks.

And now some of the biggest brands in America are saying they can’t brush it off.

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