Only a day after the conclusion of the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 28, 2021, in Orlando, which ended with former President Donald Trump’s first public address since his unceremonious departure from the White House in January 2021, the news cycle found itself inundated with coverage of the conference’s more incendiary speakers. “Highlights,” for lack of a better term, included Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s attempts to joke about his controversial trip to Cancun in the midst of his state’s worst natural disaster crisis in recent history, conservative pundit (and Donald Trump, Jr.’s girlfriend) Kimberly Guilfoyle’s outsize fawning over the twice-impeached ex-president, and Trump’s own continued (and baseless) claims of voter fraud. But out of the batch, it seems that the one speaker getting the most attention has somehow eclipsed Trump’s own highly anticipated post-presidential speaking debut: that of Goya food company CEO Bob Unanue.
As multiple publications like The Hill recapped, Unanue, who has previously made many, many waves for his repeated pro-Trump remarks as the head of a brand whose products are geared toward the Hispanic and Latinx communities, took to the podium at CPAC on Feb. 28, 2021, to once again express his loyalty to the ex-commander-in-chief — and used it to propagate his own feelings about the November 2020 election. So what did the CEO have to say at CPAC? Read on to find out.
Goya CEO Bob Unanue repeated his opinion of the 2020 election
While Bob Unanue’s remarks at the CPAC in February 2021 were unsurprising to those familiar with the food company CEO’s previously stated views on the Donald Trump presidency and the November 2020 election, it seemingly did little to quell the sense of shock at the fact that he repeated them in the wake of the negative press both he and the company he helms previously received. And like last time (and the time before), Unanue’s most controversial lines centered on claims of voter fraud Trump continuously (and currently) touted as the reason he lost to President Joe Biden in 2020.
After thanking organizers and attendees at CPAC for having him speak at the 2021 convention, Unanue went on to state that “in my opinion, the real, legitimate, and the still actual president of the United States” is Trump, not Biden, which he alleged by referencing Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud in the November 2020 presidential election — a debunked theory the former commander-in-chief wielded in an effort to keep his hold on the White House for a second term (via The Hill). Unanue continued to circle back to this unsubstantiated pretense throughout the course of his speech, later calling the election itself “not legitimate,” and implicated the state of Georgia in particular for verifying their count in favor of Biden.
Comments Bob Unanue made at CPAC received a tidal wade of backlash
In response to Goya CEO Bob Unanue’s pro-Trump remarks, many took to social media to criticize the CEO’s sycophantic praises and his part in spreading misinformation about the election. Outlets like The Hill compared the backlash to ones made previously against Unanue via social media, quoting a July 2020 tweet posted by one-time presidential primary candidate Julián Castro. At the time, Castro underlined the fact that his food company is one of the most popular brands among the Latinx community, and one which Trump continuously maligned throughout his time in office, per The Hill. “@GoyaFoods has been a staple of so many Latino households for generations,” the tweet read. “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.”
In response to CPAC, celebrities used social media to levy their own takes on the matter, among them was television personality Joy Behar, who quipped “no more chickpeas from Goya for me.” The piling criticism against Unanue also prompted internet denizens to call for a boycott against Goya — much like the one users rallied for in January 2021 following a statement Unanue made immediately after the Capitol Hill riots on Jan. 6, 2021. Among them a statement made on the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration two weeks after the insurrection, in which he called Biden’s victory “unverified.”
Goya CEO Bob Unanue failed to mention a key detail about Georgia
Ironically, Bob Unanue and others who spoke at CPAC largely failed to mention that Donald Trump himself is currently the subject of a grand inquiry in Georgia’s Fulton County over possible criminal charges of election fraud, racketeering, and more. As The New York Times reported in February 2021, the investigation is related to Trump allegedly asking Brad Raffensperger, a Republican serving as Georgia’s secretary of state, to help him “find” votes in order to secure the state for a Trump win — and overturn President Joe Biden’s victory — back in January 2021, mere weeks before Biden’s inauguration. Both the call with Raffensperger, who immediately reported the details of the conversation, and the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill insurrection served as the foundation of Trump’s subsequent second impeachment trial.
The Goya CEO’s latest comments also went against a January 2021 ruling made by the company’s official board to censure Unanue due to similar remarks he made following the Capitol Hill riots. As The New York Post reported at the time, all nine members of the board voted unanimously to prohibit Unanue from public appearances unless previously approved. (As of the time of this writing, it is unclear as to the full extent of how aware the Goya board was of the content of Unanue’s CPAC speech before his keynote address, and they have not issued an official statement on the matter.)
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