FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Carrie McDonnell, a Democrat who lives in Fort Lauderdale, figured out the perfect holiday gifts for her parents: each will get an autographed copy of Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s latest book. McDonnell prefers Hillary Clinton, but she crossed the political divide to get their Christmas presents.
McDonnell waited about five hours to get the candidate’s signature on copies of “A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties.”
There’s a convenient way to get politically themed merchandise for the holidays: the candidates’ online stores. Selections range from mundane (signs, stickers) to creative (a $75 guacamole bowl from former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush) to the funny (a $30 water bottle from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.).
Rubio offers the “Water Great Nation Marco Rubio Water Bottle,” a refreshing bit of self-deprecating humor from a candidate who famously lunged for a bottle of water during his first big exposure on national television.
Everyone has shirts. Almost every candidate offers a hoodie. Baby clothing and bibs are common. The onesie from Carson says, “future neurosurgeon & president.” The baby one-piece from Rubio says, “My parents love me, so they are voting Marco Rubio 2016.”
Donald Trump, Carson and Clinton all have items for dogs. Trump offers a dog shirt emblazoned with his slogan. Clinton offers both a dog bandanna and a charm to attach to a pet’s collar. Carson has a bandanna and a dog collar.
Trump, who often sports ball caps proclaiming he’d “Make America Great Again,” offers a big selection with that slogan — 16 versions.
Bush’s camo hat — “Jeb! 2016” — is $25. Carson offers a six-pack of camo insulated holders — “Heal, Inspire, Revive” — for $25.
Candidates in both parties emphasize their products are made in America.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ website goes even further, proclaiming that “Every item in our store will always be made and printed by union workers right here in the United States.” Clinton doesn’t go that far to cater to organized labor, a critical Democratic Party constituency. Her selection is much larger than Sanders’, and some items — such as the “H is for Homemade” plated steel cookie cutter in the shape of Clinton’s campaign logo — aren’t union made.
Clinton and Sanders offer rainbow-themed stickers, buttons and shirts in their pride sections aimed at gay and lesbian voters. Republicans don’t have items promoting gay pride on their sites.
Carson appeals to religious conservatives with a Christmas section that includes a Christmas sweater, Christmas T-shirt and an ornament that’s painted with the message “Merry Christmas from the Carsons.”
Clinton offers a “Hillary for the Holidays” sweatshirt.