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Gear of War

The 2008 presidential-merchandise battle.

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The ’08 presidential aspirants are racing to out-merch each other. Last week, Barack Obama unveiled a new women’s line of ObamaMAMA T-shirts. Hillary Clinton (Marc Jacobs designed her Senate stuff) is planning new accoutrements, and Rudy Giuliani has an official licensee: Spalding Group (not to be confused with the basketballs), apparel-maker for the Bushies and the hard right. Among all campaigns, the hot new political souvenir this election cycle seems to be the infant onesie (ideal for any smooching pol). Naturally, purists are outraged. Who would do that to a child? asks Jordan Wright, who runs Soho’s Museum of Democracy, a collection of political memorabilia. It virtually guarantees therapy for the rest of your life. Wright analyzed four other campaign mementos.


Rudy Infant Bib
Who sees your baby eating, really? Your mother- in-law? A nanny? Nobody will see it, and when they do it’s dirty. For Giuliani the message is even stranger. He’s hardly the family- values guy to have children’s clothing.


Hillary Kid Pack
(T-shirt, ruler, piggy bank)
A kid who wears his Hillary shirt to school and uses his Hillary ruler is asking to get beat up. As for the pig, it’s such an odd thing to give a child. Are these kids going to give their allowances to Hillary?


Barack Obama Support Pack
(4 T-shirts, 50 buttons, 50 bumper stickers, 100 lapel stickers, 10 rally signs)
The name could be a jockstrap, or an Evangelical group. What’s new is that you used to be able to get all this free, and now you buy it.


Elizabeth Edwards Button
This is a real gamble. In a peculiar way, this is playing on her cancer. Ms. Obama on a button wouldn’t have the same resonance, and Hillary is so conflicted about her husband.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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