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Latest Trump remarks prompt Campbell's Morrison, J&J's Gorsky to reverse course, quit CEO panel

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Campbell Soup Co.'s Denise Morrison is leaving the president's manufacturing council.
Campbell Soup Co.'s Denise Morrison is leaving the president's manufacturing council. - ()

Just two days after saying she would remain a part of President Donald Trump’s manufacturing council, Campbell Soup Co. CEO and President Denise Morrison announced Wednesday that she will quit the panel after all. Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky also changed his mind and dropped out.

Trump has been under fire for remarks he has made in the wake of clashes between white supremacists marching in Virginia and counterprotesters. One counterprotester was killed when a car plowed into a group of marchers, while two state troopers died in the line of duty when their observation helicopter crashed.

Trump first blamed “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, then walked back his comments Monday, before seemingly doubling down on them again Tuesday.

On Monday, Camden-based Campbell’s had said in a statement: “We believe it continues to be important for Campbell to have a voice and provide input on matters that will affect our industry, our company and our employees in support of growth. Therefore, Ms. Morrison will remain on the president’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.”

Kenneth Frazier, CEO and president of Kenilworth-based Merck & Co., quit the panel Monday, the first in a string of departures.

On Wednesday, following Trump’s latest comments, Morrison had a change of heart and joined those departing the panel.

“Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville,” she said in a statement. “I believe the president should have been — and still needs to be — unambiguous on that point.

Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson.
Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson. - ()

“Following yesterday’s remarks from the president, I cannot remain on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. I will continue to support all efforts to spur economic growth and advocate for the values that have always made America great.”

Gorsky also issued a statement through New Brunswick-based J&J that read in part: "Johnson & Johnson has a responsibility to remain engaged as important policy decisions are made. That hasn't changed. The president's most recent statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred is unacceptable and has changed our decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council."

Morrison’s departure brought to eight the number of executives quitting the manufacturing panel, according to reports. In addition, reports have said Trump is disbanding other advisory councils as CEOs have threatened to quit them, as well.

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