(CNN) – What’s a presidential run without merchandise? There’s a dual purpose to eye-catching gear. Not only is it a chance for candidates to get their message out with supporters, it’s also another way to bring in small-dollar donations into the campaign, because the purchases are processed as campaign donations.
Many 2020 Democrats have already announced their latest fundraising totals (and campaigns take specific pains to highlight small-dollar donations). You’ll often see donations under $100 highlighted by candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who have focused on smaller donations in lieu of big political donors.
That may explain Warren’s current comprehensive menu of campaign swag offerings.
Like the “Bailey For First Dog” $18 handkerchief in red and blue, featuring Warren’s much-touted pooch Bailey. Then there’s the “If you don’t have a seat at table, you’re probably on the menu” apron in white and navy, for $35. Want more pet apparel? There’s the “Consumer Watchdog” and “purr-sist” collars for Fido and Fifi, available in red and blue for $23. Wanna get local? There are 50 different state-specific “Persist” shirts — each at $30 a pop.
Though the trail is peppered with merchandise that isn’t officially sold by the campaigns themselves, It’s worth noting the swag highlighted here is all official merchandise — with the proceeds going back to the candidates, rather than some sort of third-party seller.
The award for most creative campaign apparel descriptions goes to John Delaney.
The Maryland Democrat REALLY sells his campaign’s $1 pink “Memory eraser,” featured on his site with this colorful description:
“They may look like typical pink erasers, but these are no ordinary school supplies. Simply place one eraser beneath your pillow before falling asleep and by morning you’ll have forgotten all of the pain, invective, division, and incoherent ramblings of our 45th president. You’ll wake refreshed and ready to set about rebuilding America. And if troubling memories linger of Bannon, Flynn, Pence, Jared & Ivanka, Scaramucci, and all the rest, simply empty the entire bag under your pillow and sleep again like it’s 2009.”
Delaney’s straightforward baseball cap even has some zest: It’s the “Power hitter” baseball cap, retailing for $20.20. “So, get shade — don’t throw it — with the Delaney for President ball cap,” the description reads.
The simple baseball cap appears to be a campaign merch mainstay so far this cycle.
Take Andrew Yang’s “MATH” baseball hat, described as “an essential item for any true Andrew Yang supporter.” Priced at $30, it’s also currently being restocked. The hat is intended to celebrate “numbers and facts,” which Yang’s campaign site says is a top focus of his bid — though the candidate also tweeted the dubious claim that the MATH hat will “will make you better at long division.”
The hat route is not a requirement.
Cory Booker, for example, also went the first-name branding route, but jazzes things up with a “2020.” Because 2020!
Some candidates lean into their own brands in their apparel offerings.
Pete Buttigieg offers a helpful pronunciation guide to his complicated last name in both unisex and women’s T-shirts, reading “BOOT EDGE EDGE” and retailing for $25.
Others are a bit more punny.
Bernie Sanders sells a “Feel the Bern” coffee mug at $15. The campaign doesn’t mention this but … one would assume the burn would be avoided with this coffee mug, right?
And an honorable mention goes to Kirsten Gillibrand’s appeal to her youngest supporters with baby onesies reading “Gotta CRAWL before I can RUN (for president)” for $20. For what it’s worth, there doesn’t appear to be any swag on the site inspired by Gillibrand’s meme-inspiring run-in with an Iowa voter who was “just trying to get some ranch” (though you can get that shirt, which the candidate sported in a recent video, elsewhere).
Colorado’s former beer brewery owner John Hickenlooper offers a foam can koozie with his “Hickenlooper 2020” campaign logo for $5 (missed opportunity for the campaign to say these koozies can be used for cans with or without beer!).
The classic campaign button gets its 2020 treatment, too.
Julián Castro has some very bright — and economical — “Julián for the future” buttons, with a two pack selling for $4.
And Marianne Williamson lets the image do the talking with a button featuring the self-help author’s sketched portrait “designed by critically acclaimed fashion artist, David Downton.” One will set you back for a cool $5.
Meanwhile, Amy Klobuchar keeps it simple with an “Amy for America” pullover hoodie, retailing at $49 — the most expensive offering on the Minnesota senator’s campaign’s online store.
Self-described single-issue candidate Jay Inslee (running on a platform of combating climate change) keeps his campaign shop focused on that mission. In addition to selling his book that features a forward by Bill Clinton (for $28), every piece of swag on his sitefeatures the slogan “our moment” — reminding supporters that it’s “our moment for climate action.”
Hawaii’s Tulsi Gabbard has the simplest campaign offerings of the Democratic bunch, with just unisex and women’s T-shirts, two stickers and a button.
But for what it’s worth, her $29.99 “full color yard signs” are already sold out.
Only one 2020 Democrat doesn’t have any campaign merchandise available online: Florida Democrat Wayne Messam — but he does have a lengthy issues section on solving the student debt crisis.
President Donald Trump has been at work at his re-election campaign essentially since he was elected — and has the campaign shop to prove it. The well-oiled merch machine has apparently been churning out topical gear complete with Trump’s latest tweets.
For example: The “LIMITED edition NO COLLUSION tee” which features Trump’s tweet following the Mueller report’s completion — and that also includes a number to text (the word “WITCHHUNT”) to donate to Trump’s campaign, retailing for $30.
Want something from Trump that is topical yet non-Twitter related? Check out the “Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff Tee,” a nod to Trump’s nickname for his House Intelligence committee adversary, selling for $28 (which also includes a number to text to donate to the Trump campaign).
Or there’s this $30 “Trump #MAGA Morning Mug,” which reads, “I <3 waking up and remembering that Donald Trump is president.”
By Lauren Dezenski, CNN
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