Obama vs McCain: Which presidential candidate has the best campaign knick-knacks?
From reverent to raunchy, sarcastic to scatological, the American presidential race has thrown up a rich harvest of campaign knick-knacks. Tim Walker goes forth to shop
Friday 19 September 2008
'Change' black t-shirt, designed by Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter
$60 ( www.store.barackobama.com)
Obama's campaign has commissioned clothing designs from celebrities such as Beyoncé Knowles, Russell Simmons and Pharrell Williams, for its "Runway to Change" range, available from the official campaign website. This is hip-hop mogul and conspicuous Obamaniac Jay-Z's effort.
'Palin for VPILF' t-shirt
$21.97 ( www.customizedgirl.com)
Back in July, Obama's merchandise was outselling McCain's by five to one but, just like their poll numbers, Republican T-shirt sales have been reinvigorated by the nomination of Alaska governor Sarah Palin for vice president. Vpilf is an acronym for "Vice president to whom I would enjoy making love", although not exactly in those words.
'Change is Awesome' tote bag, designed by Rag and Bone
$75 ( www.store.barackobama.com)
It's not entirely surprising to find fashionistas coming out for Obama, and plenty of them have been designing official merchandise for the Democratic candidate, among them Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenburg. This declamatory tote bag was designed by Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, aka Rag and Bone.
Palin McCain "Pretty Woman" button
Sarah Palin has excited imaginations – and libidos – on both sides of the political divide. This button captures both the political reasons for McCain's choice of Palin as running mate – she's young, she's pretty – and the unnerving sexual urges she generates in irony-hungry urban liberals.
'Change' poster by Shephard Fairey
Sold out ( www.store.barackobama.com)
Illustrator Shephard Fairey's three striking limited edition Obama posters – "Change", "Hope" and "Progress" – are already iconic. Hand-numbered originals are changing hands on eBay for more than $2,000, but expect to find a flood of cheap knock-offs in stores soon.
'Veterans for McCain' hat
$14 ( www.goptrunk.com)
McCain's official merchandise is far from imaginative, but he does know how to play to his base. Hence his website's vast range of products tailored to military veterans, like this "Veterans for McCain" baseball cap, one of the candidate's own preferred mufti accessories.
'Yes We Can' rectangle button
$3, or 2 for $5 ( www.store.barackobama.com)
The Obama campaign's vast selection of badges and buttons includes this immortalisation of the fist bump between Barack and Michelle, which Fox News famously described as a "terrorist fist jab".
'John is my Homeboy' hoodie
$29.99 ( www.joinmccainshop.com)
Making a bid for the youth vote, McCain supporters have emblazoned this "urban" slogan across a range of casual clothing products, including this hooded sweater.
'Barack's How I Roll' infant bodysuit
$14.99 ( www.cafepress.com)
There's nothing like a baby in an ironic baby-gro, and young Democrat parents across America have been squeezing their offspring into this example of the genre. "Barack's How I Roll" is one of many unofficial Obama campaign slogans.
'Flush the John' dog t-shirt
$19.99 ( www.cafepress.com)
Dogs can't be registered to vote, but they can sure as heck campaign, and branded dogwear is the latest battleground in the McCain-Obama conflict. This witty anti-McCain range portrays the Republican candidate's face on a soon-to-be-soiled sheet of toilet tissue.
'Obama: A More United America' and 'McCain: A More United America' mugs
$14.99 ( www.wearyourvote.com)
These bipartisan mugs show just how little policy differences matter to many voters, with the same platitudinous slogan emblazoned across identical mugs, the only difference being the candidates' names.
'McCain 1908' t-shirt
$12 ( www.bustedtees.com)
It looks like official campign merchandise, until you see the date. This anti-McCain T-shirt draws attention to the candidate's age and, to rub it in, will no doubt be worn predominantly by twentysomethings. Contrary to rumour, McCain was born in 1936, some 28 years after 1908.
Sarah Palin Halloween Mask
$0.99 ( www.buycostumes.com)
Sarah Palin Halloween masks have been selling like hot cakes across the pond, and she sure is scary. Then again, if she ends up in the White House, we'll be worrying about a lot more than just trick or treat pranks.
'McCain MASH' military camo t-shirt
$22.99 ( www.wearyourvote.com)
An odd choice of T-shirt for the McCain campaign. Obviously, the M*A*S*H reference will remind people of the Vietnam war, and the young McCain's brave service there as a POW. But M*A*S*H was a satire on the war, made by a bunch of Hollywood lefties. A "Born in the USA" moment?
'Obama Said Knock You Out' t-shirt
$21.99 ( www.cultclassicts.com)
'Do You Smell What Barack is Cookin'?' t-shirt
$18.99 ( www.bustedtees.com)
Obama supporters are nothing if not culturally aware. Hence the proliferation of pop culture-referencing pseudo-slogans such as "Obama Said Knock You Out" (from the LL Cool J song "Mama Said Knock You Out") and "Do You Smell What Barack is Cookin'? (from the catchphrase of ex-wrestler The Rock: "Do You Smell What The Rock Is Cookin'?")
'Paris/Rihanna 08' t-shirt
$18.99 ( www.bustedtees.com)
When Paris Hilton was used in an attack ad by the McCain campaign, intending to paint her and Obama as fellow vapid celebrities, the heiress hit back with a campaign ad of her own, with considered, independent policies. She nominated singer Rihanna as her running mate. This T-shirt is the result.
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