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Why Online Shops Play An Important Role For Presidential Candidates


Now, as you look for Internet deals on this Cyber Monday, you may want to check out the sales in the 2016 presidential candidates' online shops. NPR's Sam Sanders reports on what they got.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Marco Rubio sells Marco Polo shirts. Get it? Hillary Clinton has a pantsuit T-shirt for sale in her shop. And Jeb Bush has been selling a $75 guacamole bowl. But the most amazing campaign shop item I've found so far comes from Rand Paul, senator from Kentucky.

STEVEN GRUBBS: When Senator Paul was in Nevada, he went to a gun range.

SANDERS: That's Steven Grubbs. He's the head of Paul's online shop. He was telling me the story of how an item called the Autographed Zombie Clown Target came to be.

GRUBBS: When he was done, he talked about the value of the Second Amendment. So we got the target that he shot. He autographed it. And now it's one of the items that we have on there that helps raise funds for the campaign.

SANDERS: There's an image of a big, scary-looking clown on the target, hence the name. It's on sale for a thousand dollars. Grubbs says items like this accomplish two goals. One - making money for the campaign.

GRUBBS: But number two - and not very many campaign stores achieve this. A store can be a part of the narrative of your campaign.

SANDERS: For instance, Paul's store sells a filibuster starter pack, which includes a spy cam blocker for your computer's webcam. It's all based on Rand Paul's now famous 11-hour speech against government surveillance. As with any campaign, you could buy from a candidate who goes on, to well, lose. That's happened to Andrew Keurig.

ANDREW KEURIG: I bought what seemed like about a million bumper stickers from John Edwards. My mom used her credit card, or let me use her credit card, so I could buy a Wesley Clark sign and sticker and a T-shirt. And I'd been buying those Ridin' With Biden stickers. I was giving them out to friends. They were really popular.

SANDERS: Joe Biden didn't even run for president this time. And John Edwards and Wesley Clark, we know what happened to them. But Keurig says he keeps most of that stuff. A lot of it in a little wooden box on his bookshelf. And sometimes you don't even get what you ordered.

JESSICA SHERWIN: In 2007, I purchased a Women for Obama sticker from the Obama campaign.

SANDERS: That's Jessica Sherwin from Chicago. She says the sticker never came. Sherwin did say if she ever met Obama, she'd bring it up.

What do you think he'd say?

SHERWIN: That's absolutely ridiculous. I can't believe you lost $3 on that. I'm going to take care of that right away for you. That's what I think he would say (laughter).

SANDERS: Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sam worked at Vermont Public Radio from October 1978 to September 2017 in various capacities – almost always involving audio engineering. He excels at sound engineering for live performances.
Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.
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