LEWISTON — When U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud campaigns for governor, he will be walking a lot of miles and knocking on a lot of doors.

He will need a good pair of shoes, and he has selected a pair of Maine-made New Balance sneakers for the job.

On Thursday, Michaud, D-2nd District, officially announced his plans to run for governor at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston, where he also showed off his new campaign shoes — a pair of custom-made New Balance 574 shoes that read “Michaud 2014” on the heels and are made in the campaign colors, blue and yellow.

“I’m not going to pretend this campaign will be easy. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours and a lot of shoe leather. But don’t worry— I’ve found the perfect shoes,” Michaud said to a crowd of about 70 supporters on Thursday.

A former millworker at Great Northern Paper Co. in East Millinocket, Michaud has been a supporter of American manufacturing jobs throughout his political career. During his speech Thursday, he said one of the most important things about his new shoes, which were made in New Balance’s Norridgewock factory, is that they are made in the United States.

David Farmer, a spokesman for Michaud’s campaign, said the congressman mentioned New Balance in his speech, in which he talked about the importance of protecting jobs for Mainers and creating new jobs.

He said that Michaud also has been an advocate in Washington of fair-trade practices on behalf of New Balance and other Maine manufacturers. 

During a recent visit to Norridgewock, Michaud toured the New Balance factory there with U.S. Sen. Angus King and U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman to discuss the need to eliminate foreign footwear tariffs in order to open up the market for U.S.-made products such as New Balance shoes, protecting American manufacturing jobs.

New Balance has five production facilities in the United States, including three in Maine. According to its website, 25 percent of its shoes sold in the United States are produced in New England.

Matt LeBretton, director of public affairs for New Balance, said Michaud has been a supporter of trade agreements that would protect their factories against harmful effects of foreign tariffs.

LeBretton said he has spoken to many people in Maine who are nervous about the outcome of a series of trade negotiations set to take place later this month among the United States and nine other countries during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in Brunei.

At stake are about 20 tariffs that Vietnamese manufacturers are pushing to eliminate in the hope of reducing the price of their products before they become available in American markets, thus undercutting the price of athletic footwear and threatening New Balance’s share of the domestic shoe market.

LeBretton said that President Barack Obama, Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox and actor Mark Wahlberg also have customized New Balance sneakers.

Ed Gilman, a spokesman for Michaud’s Washington, D.C., office, said the congressman usually wears gray New Balance shoes on his trips home to Maine. He usually wears dress shoes in Washington.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
[email protected]

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