On Tuesday, just one day after President Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he was treated for COVID-19, a webpage called the White House Gift Shop, which is not affiliated with the White House, began selling a commemorative coin as part of its “Historic moments in history” collection to honor Trump’s recovery from the coronavirus. The coin, which can be preordered for $100, describes it as a “limited edition” and features icons of Trump (most likely without mask) and members of his first team. A photo is coming soon, but orders don’t ship until a week after the election.
It’s a good example of how merchandise is playing a role in campaign strategy in a year as unprecedented as this one.
Trump and Joe Biden, of course, have their own official online stores helping to feed their election campaigns, and much of their campaign strategy can be gleaned from the range of their commercialized goods. Among all the “Make America Great Again” hats and “Team Joe” yard signs are some true oddities.
Much of what Americans saw during the first presidential debate—CNN’s Dana Bash dubbed it a “shit show” while many Americans described the candidates as behaving worse than toddlers—is spilling over into the candidates’ merchandise. While the candidates’ merchandise caters to different groups, both candidates are pumping the same snarkiness that came through in the first debate (and even the vice-presidential debate) into their T-shirts, pins, and more.
Perhaps surprisingly, that comes across more on Joe Biden's online store. Most recently, during the vice presidential debate on October 8, when a fly landing on Vice President Mike Pence's head went viral, Biden's online shop began selling a blue "Truth Over Flies" fly swatter for $10. It quickly sold out.