Monday, December 24, 2007

"For the Campaign '08 Obsessive Who Has Everything"

The Trail (WaPo's political blog):
In Iowa, it will all be over before the 12 Drummers can even set about drumming. The caucus takes place on January 3rd, or the 10th day of Christmas, for those keeping count by a favorite carol.
So this holiday season, nearly colliding as it does with the earliest voting in the presidential race, candidates have sent Christmas messages in lieu of campaign ads and produced hokey campaign spots disguised as Christmas messages. They have doled out candy canes and traversed Iowa with carol-themed gimmicks.

And while today and tomorrow the campaigns are taking a Yuletide pause, that doesn't mean campaign 2008 can't still find its way under -- or hang from -- a Christmas tree.

Apart from the "Christmas gift" to the candidate of a straightforward donation, if you care enough to give the very best and be actively engaged in the democratic process, the '08 hopefuls oblige with a variety of gift options.

Mitt Romney offers the "UltiMitt Holiday" line of "commemorative gifts for you and your favorite Mitt Romney supporters." For $100, fans of the former Massachusetts governor can adorn their tree with a Romney-for-president ornament and entertain with traditional winter recipes from Ann Romney. (For a sneak preview of Ann Romney's cooking, see her recipe for Welsh Skillet Cakes here.) And for more of a splurge: for $250, get a Romney fleece blanket -- "the official campaign blanket" -- and a voice-mail message recorded by the candidate himself.

At the Barack Obama campaign store, holiday products include Obama '08 "'Tis the season for change" ornaments, starting at two for $17.50 and, at $25, a long sleeve T-shirt asking "Got Hope,' with a Santa hat-clad "G." (Shoppers are assured the shirt is union-made and union-printed in the USA.)

Mike Huckabee, who reminded television viewers that what "really matters" this season is the "celebration of the birth of Christ," does not actually appear to be hawking any Christmas-specific merchandise on his official campaign site, but he does offer a variety of clothing wishing "...And a happy new year," and featuring a smiling Huckabee positioned close to the White House.

The Dennis Kucinich online store -- yes, there is one -- also stocks holiday-related campaign 2008 items. Apart from the unique gift options -- just $219.95 for a "Palm Beach County Voting Machine," circa the 2000 election, "containing actual chads," a replica butterfly ballot, and, as a bonus the letter "iThe Stolen Presidential Election of 2000' personally signed by Dennis Kucinich" -- the Ohio congressman and Democratic candidate is also selling holiday cards, starting at 10 for $10, inscribed with messages of hope, peace and notes on his legislative record. (What better way to send season's greetings than by noting that Kucinich is "the only candidate that...has a plan to bring the Troops home now--HR1234" and "will restore habeas corpus and protect our Constitution"?)

In addition to this smattering of holiday-specific offerings, most candidates have winter weather gear for sale plus the standard booster paraphernalia of signs, bumper stickers, buttons and decals.

At the Hillary Clinton store, early state voters can cope with the winter driving conditions with a Hillary Clinton ice scraper. If caucus night itself is close, the Clinton camp is providing an alternative to nail-biting: Hillary signature emery boards to "reshape the future" -- with healthy, elegantly arched nails. Other items in the "signature series" include stylish chocolate brown T-shirt (priced at $20.08) and an I (Heart) Hillary temporary tattoo.

At the official John Edwards store web page, a smiling photo of the candidate greets shoppers with the words: "We do not have to accept mediocrity or compromise our values. We can decide to be great, we can address great problems, we can see great possibilities." So, accordingly, the apparel for sale does not compromise its values: it is "high quality" and union-made and union printed.

Fred Thompson encourages supporters to donate in holiday song increments by giving "Fred a gift" -- "seven mailers mailing" for $250 and, among other options, "Eleven vols a calling" for $50 (presumably to pay for the phones and not the volunteers themselves). Actual products for sale include jumbo tote bags, golf balls and The Fred Factor, by Steve Gill, the May 2007 book on "how Fred Thompson May Change The Face Of The '08 Campaign."

The Rudy Giuliani store is good for the coalition-oriented person on your list. Are you last-minute shopping for a sportsman? Try the "sportsmen for Rudy" line of buttons, hats and T-shirts. Or want to wish a Giuliani fan "Buon Natale"? Try the Italian-Americans for Rudy items, in festive Italian-flag colors.

At the John McCain online store, fans can pick up a DVD version of Faith of My Fathers, the candidate's 1999 memoir.

Ron Paul fans don't have too much official Paul merchandise to choose from, but they still can "CHOOSE LIBERTY" and have it emblazoned on a Ron Paul 2008 wristband. Though Paul fans should note one potential gift-giving snag as a side effect of the Texas congressman's increasing popularity in the GOP race. A disclaimer on the Paul campaign store site notes: "Due to the overwhelming support from friends and volunteers around the country, we will not be able to guarantee Christmas delivery for orders placed after the 12th of December."
Howie P.S.: Speaking of obsessives, I should probably say "light posting" (like everybody else) for the next 36 hours, but I don't know if I can keep that resolution.

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