Backyard bag-toss games, retro tank tops and overpriced guacamole bowls are just a few of the out-of-the-curve pieces of campaign merchandise being served up by politicians seeking to become the next president of the United States.
In advance of tonight's two (count 'em, two) debates between candidates seeking the Republican nomination, we checked in on a few of their websites to see what, beyond the traditional assemblage of yard signs, bumper stickers and campaign buttons, was available for purchase. Below are a few of the items that caught our attention.
If you're a sucker for a good pun like we are, then you might appreciate the Marco polo – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's 100% cotton, pre-shrunk, U.S.-made polo shirts with the silhouette of the continental U.S. embroidered on the left breast over the name "Marco" ($45-$48). Given his memorable water-bottle moment after the 2013 State of the Union address, forgive us for secretly wishing for some private-label bottled water.
Jeb Bush's guacamole bowl
The store at Jeb Bush's campaign website only went live earlier this week but it was worth the wait. The son of one former U.S. president and brother of another is offering a couple of very funny T-shirt designs including a white vintage tank top style bearing a black and white photo print of a sideburn-sporting, mustachioed Bush straight out of the '70s ($20). What makes it even more of a gem is the descriptive text online: "He may be a clean-cut grandfather now, but back in the 70's, Jeb had a sideburn-mustache combo that would make Burt Reynolds blush. Wear this tank on South Beach to make sure he doesn't forget it."
The true highlight for us, though, is the "Guaca Bowle" – a $75 version of the kind of three-legged guacamole or salsa dish (aka the bowl part of a traditional Mexican molcajete) that can be found at a restaurant supply store for under $10. The description for the bowl (which, it should be noted, won't be ready to ship for three weeks) reads: "Jeb and Columba love whipping up guacamole on Sunday Funday. Now, you can get in on the act with this 'Guaca Bowle.' Jeb's secret guacamole recipe not included … yet." The accompanying image shows a simple, unadorned vessel, but you'd think for a $65 markup you'd at least get the Jeb-with-an-exclamation-point logo slapped on the side.
Rand Paul's cornhole game
Paul's people seem to have gotten pretty imaginative with a range of Paul-emblazoned merchandise – so much so that earlier this year, owners of the Ray-Ban brand asked them to remove sunglasses bearing the candidate's name. Still available are dog tags ($15 a pair), wine glasses ($40 a set) and a version of the backyard beanbag-tossing game (traditionally called "cornhole"; the site simply lists it as "bag toss game") tricked out with Rand's name and flame campaign logo ($100).
Our biggest disappointment? That Donald Trump, whose "Make America Great Again" faux yacht captain hat has already become a viral hit, hasn't yet (at least as of this writing) opened an e-commerce page on his campaign website.
The first debate, featuring seven of the Republican candidates, is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Pacific on Fox, followed by a 6 p.m. Pacific debate among the top 10 candidates.
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