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Every week, 140 million Americans shop at 4,692 Walmart stores in 50 states. There is arguably no other company in the United States that so tangibly touches more Americans of every political, racial and cultural stripe.
So when the company's chief executive, Doug McMillon, on Monday forcefully criticized President Trump's response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., he risked alienating as many customers as he might win over.
Mr. McMillon's remarks came during a week when many corporate titans publicly distanced themselves from the president by stepping down from his advisory councils. On Wednesday, a day after the president equated white nationalist hate groups with the demonstrators opposing them, the main council of chief executives, the Strategic and Policy Forum, agreed to disband.
Since the violence in Charlottesville, chief executives across corporate America have had to weigh the risks of taking a stand against the administration. Mr. McMillon himself, while harshly rebuking the president, initially opted not to step down from the Strategic and Policy Forum before it disbanded — an example of the delicate balance that corporate leaders try to strike when dealing with Mr. Trump.
On Wednesday, we spoke with customers at Walmart stores in three communities — Las Vegas; Bloomington, Ind.; and Union Township, N.J.
This is what they had to say about Walmart chief executive's decision to weigh into the political fray this week.
— Michael Corkery
Sitting in the Walmart parking lot, Louise Adamson, 78, shook her head as she thought about the violence in Virginia.
"It's so saddening to see what's going on, and it's getting worse and worse," she said.
Mrs. Adamson and her husband, who recently sold Bloomington Valley Nursery, a garden and landscaping business they started decades ago, attend services each Sunday at Bloomington Southern Baptist church. She said she had voted for Mr. Trump because she liked that he was not a politician.
But President Trump's response to the violence made her angry, she said, adding that Mr. McMillon was correct in denouncing the president.
"Somebody's got to say it," she said. "We've got to speak up. So few of us have any kind of say. If you get too involved, you get yourself killed."
Ed Congdon, who also voted for Mr. Trump, had a different view.
"I think all C.E.O.s should keep their mouths shut," said Mr. Congdon, 63, who was listening to the Rush Limbaugh radio show while his wife shopped inside. "You want to be a political pundit, go on CNN."
Mr. Congdon, who drives tractor-trailers for a living, said he agreed with President Trump's hesitation to place the blame for the violence solely on the "conservative side."
"The biggest problem is that they're not calling out the liberal side of things," he said, adding that the Virginia protesters should be "investigated" as to who "paid them."
As for giving his business to Walmart, Mr. Congdon seemed resigned. "My wife's going to be shopping here till the day she dies," he said.
— Hannah Alani
Peter Caprio, 64, had just started pulling out of his parking spot when he realized the cooler he had put in his trunk was holding the rear gate of his BMW sport utility vehicle open.
Mr. Caprio, a school business administrator, said Mr. Trump had made fair points in his news conference on Tuesday, when he said the violence was not just the fault of the white supremacists. "He was right; it's on both sides," he said.
But even if he might have agreed with Mr. McMillon's position, he suggested it was not appropriate for the chief executive of a big company like Walmart to comment on politics.
"The C.E.O. has to worry about stockholders, nobody else," Mr. Caprio said. "If it doesn't affect stockholders, best to let it go."
Another shopper, Jose Rivero, 56, said he was heartened that the Walmart chief had spoken out.
"I think it's wrong that the president doesn't condemn" racism, said Mr. Rivero, who manages a cleaning company. "I think it makes a difference that all these big companies are making statements. I don't like this hate."
Regardless, Mr. Rivero said Mr. McMillon's statements would not affect his shopping habits. "Everyone has to have an opinion," he said.
— Zach Wichter
Michael Ellington, a stay-at-home father, said he keeps an eye on the news — but not when his children are in the room. He prefers that they not be subjected to such anger, even from the president.
"I'm pleased with the C.E.O.'s response," said Mr. Ellington, 40. "He was spot on. What Trump did was miss a very critical opportunity. Considering today's society and climate, those types of opportunities are important and not to be wasted. To have the president in office not stepping up is a disgrace to the office."
Shandra Tenney, 25, agreed. A married dental assistant, Ms. Tenney left the store with a bounty of the 12-packs of soda that were on sale.
"If the C.E.O. had been for Trump after what he said yesterday, I don't think I could have come here and given them my money," she said. "I'm really happy they are standing up to this guy. These business guys, and Trump is a business guy, are saying something. And they are saying, to me, they don't think he's a good guy to be in business with. It says something."
— Kimberley McGee