The Obama campaign is selling celebrity. This is evident from President Obama’s online re-election store, which offers 288 products covered in his name. By comparison, Mitt Romney has a modest 35 items in his shop. Campaign tchotchkes say a lot about the candidate.
Mr. Obama is particularly desperate for cash. He wrote in an email Tuesday, “I will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in his re-election campaign, if things continue as they have so far.” In May, Republicans bested Democrats in presidential fundraising for the first time, $76.8 million to $60 million. Mr. Obama also is blowing his campaign treasury rapidly. The Democratic candidate’s estimated spending on TV ads from April through July 2 is $55 million, while Mr. Romney will spend about $16.1 million.
“President Obama pledged to raise $1 billion to run a dishonest campaign that will do anything to distract from his abysmal economic record,” said Mr. Romney’s spokesman, Ryan Williams. “The Obama campaign can sell as many knickknacks and novelties as they want, but it will do nothing to change the fact that voters are fed up with the president’s reckless spending, incompetent leadership and failed jobs policies.”
When every dollar counts, there are some bargains to be had. The whole Obama campaign store is on sale; the code “summertime” gets you $5 off any purchase over $20. The orange, Spanish-themed Obama! t-shirt is now marked down from $30 to $25. Also in the sale bin is the Obama collegiate hoodie for $15 off the regular price of $50.
Mr. Obama styles himself a fighter for the working and middle classes, but he doesn’t seem to be in touch with them, judging by his online “runway to win” store, filled with chic fashion designers’ goods. It’s doubtful the average American has heard of Thakoon, but Obama 2012 thinks she has $45 to fork over for the designer’s red, white and blue dog leash and collar. The name Monique Pean doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue of Joe Six Pack, but her black-and-white print, organic cotton and hemp Obama scarf is for sale for $95.
Diane von Furstenberg may be more widely known, but the chintzy nylon tote saying “Obama 12”- with hearts replacing the stars on the American flag - seems a bit pricey at 85 bucks. Alexander Wang - whoever he is - offers a $95 gray sweatshirt that says down the front zipper “Let us be clear,” which ironically is the most obscure slogan on any of the Obama store’s products.
There’s a color-coded T-shirt for each social subgroup the Democrats are targeting. T-shirts for veterans are Army green. The Jewish one, in Hebrew, features the blue and white colors of the Israeli flag. Nurses are white, and for extra political correctness points, the item is modeled by a man. Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders get gray with a tropical fuchsia-and-yellow design. Environmentalists get ecru and green (available only in sizes XS, L, XL, XXL and XXXL). The shirt that says “African Americans for Obama, est. 2007” is black.
Mr. Romney’s online store is a throwback to simpler times. Everything is red, white, blue or gray - including the T-shirts that simply say “Romney, Believe in America.” Unlike Mr. Obama, the GOP candidate isn’t peddling cat collars, Earth Day packs, iPhone cases, dog bandanas, aprons, wineglasses, leather necklaces, baby bibs, spatulas or golf-divot tools. The most expensive single item in Mr. Romney’s store is the $60 quarter-zip sweatshirt.
Voters won’t base their final decision in November on a rising-sun onesie, but they should consider whether the next occupant of the White House reflects their values in all endeavors.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.