The White House contest remains anyone’s guess, but 17 months ahead of the election, Clinton and Paul are winning the swag stakes, merging Americans’ zen for online shopping with their penchant for public displays of political affection.Political collectibles are part of a centuries old American tradition, one that took off in 1840 but was solidified with the 1860 presidential campaign, when tintype visages of Abraham Lincoln and other candidates appeared on buttons.Clinton’s online store is selling buttons, but also bumper stickers, hats, sweatshirts and mugs adorned with her “H arrow” logo.It is hawking the “Everyday Pantsuit Tee” ($30), Clinton’s take on the mock tuxedo shirt, outlined instead with a pantsuit her ubiquitous outfit while secretary of state.Also on offer is a “future voter onesie” ($25) for 2016 leaning infants, a throw pillow ($55) announcing that “A woman’s place is in the White House,” and a line of rainbow colored “pride” gear. Clinton routinely pitches the products in tweets and emails.Paul’s merchandise suggests a Libertarian in political attack mode.In a jab at his Democratic rival, Paul’s store sells “Hillary’s Hard Drive” for $99.95.”When they’re gone, they’re gone forever,” the website quips presumably just like Clinton’s missing emails.Paul’s gear reflects his politics, from his “Don’t Drone Me, Bro!” shirt ($25), sharing his skepticism of US drone policy, to one that touts “The NSA knows I bought this Rand Paul t shirt” ($18), the winning entry in Paul’s apparel design contest.Paul also offers an anti National Security Agency “Spy Cam Blocker” ($15) that fits over a laptop’s camera. It is his second best seller, after a blue shirt with the Rand logo.”The store has had a very significant first eight weeks,” Steve Grubbs, Paul’s Iowa chief strategist who also manages the candidate’s online store, told AFP, without discussing numbers.”Senator Paul is very willing to be an innovator in design,” Grubbs said.
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