With Nike under fire from conservatives who are unhappy with its decision to hire former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin took to social media Thursday to urge Mainers to lace up New Balance shoes instead.

“There has never been a better time to show off your Maine-Made New Balance shoes,” the 2nd District Republican said on his Facebook page.

“There are hundreds of your fellow Mainers who make these shoes that no doubt agree,” Poliquin added.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin weighs in on Nike’s decision to hire Colin Kaepernick to be the face of its new promotional campaign, in a Facebook post on Thursday. Image from Facebook

Kaepernick became a household name after he began kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans.

The Nike advertising campaign features a large black and white photo of Kaepernick’s face and the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.”

The campaign has spurred protests by conservatives and a smackdown on Nike’s image.

President Donald Trump said in a statement on Twitter this week that “Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way?”

Morning Consult found that before the new campaign 49 percent of Americans “said they were absolutely certain or very likely to buy Nike products. That figure is down to 39 percent now.”

Poliquin, who is seeking a third term in the House, is locked in a tight reelection fight against Democrat Jared Golden. Also in the running are independents Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar.

Will Hoar, one of two independents in the Nov. 6 congressional election, said that “if Poliquin wants to work as a fashion consultant after the midterm elections, I am 100 percent behind his career change.”

He said Mainers “should feel proud to sport and support New Balance because they are Maine-made,” but the congressman shouldn’t tie it to controversial issues.

“Don’t try and politicize clothing,” said Hoar, a Southwest Harbor educator.

Boston-based New Balance has manufacturing plants in Norway, Skowhegan and Norridgewock that employ roughly 1,000 workers.

Poliquin often wears New Balance shoes as he campaigns across his sprawling, mostly rural district. Two years ago, he helped convince the military to buy New Balance athletic footwear.

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