You can tell a surprising amount about the spirit of a presidential campaign from the merchandise it tries to sell.
NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- When presidential candidates sell merchandise to raise money for their campaigns, they typically stick to the basics, like T-shirts and bumper stickers, but this year a few candidates have decided to show a sense of humor with their products.
For example: You can tell a surprising amount about the spirit of a presidential campaign from the merchandise it tries to sell.
The Rick Santorum sweater vest
Even before Rick Santorum placed a very close second to Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses he gained plenty of media attention for his fashion sensibilities. The former Pennsylvania senator made several appearances in the second half of December wearing a series of sweater vests from JoS. A. Bank (among other retailers) that quickly became a punch line for pundits. To its credit, Santorum's campaign has decided to run with the joke. The campaign announced today that voters can get one of "Rick's famous sweater vests" in exchange for donating $100 or more to the candidate before Wednesday.
Ron Paul's cookbook
Ron Paul is many things -- physician, politician, constitutional scholar -- but "chef" really isn't one of them. So it came as a surprise when his campaign announced in November that it would sell something called The 2012 Ron Paul Family Cookbook for $8. While the book does feature family dishes, it uses these mainly as a lighthearted way to present the Paul family's personal background and some of Ron Paul's ideological beliefs.
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Newt Gingrich's pet bandana
Newt Gingrich's campaign is the only one among the Republican candidates with merchandise specifically catering to that often overlooked demographic: pets. The campaign is selling a pet bandana with "Newt 2012" repeated across it for $7.50. Sure, your puppy can't vote, but that doesn't mean he can't shill for Newt while you take him out for a walk.
Herman Cain 2012 Campaign Burnout Shirt
Herman Cain has long since dropped out of the nomination race, but that doesn't mean you can't eulogize his short-lived campaign with this hideous "designer burnout" shirt featuring dozens of faded stars and something resembling a torch beneath his slogan "9-9-9." Aside from the fact that the shirt looks like something you would find in the parking lot of a beach after the Fourth of July, we like it mainly for its unintentionally prescient title: "The Herman Cain 2012 Campaign Burnout Shirt."
The Biden beer holder
As good as some of their merchandise may be, the candidates are not only competing with each other but with President Barack Obama, who has far more memorabilia -- official and unofficial -- than anyone else in the race. And the president just happens to have an ace in the hole when it comes to wacky merchandise: Joe Biden. The vice president's name appears on several winning products, including the appropriately named "Cup of Joe" coffee cup, and our favorite, the Biden beer can holder that features his smiling face above the poignant phrase, "Cheers champ."
How can Republicans expect to beat that?
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