Posted: Jan.26th, 2012
Would you pay $95 for a Ron Paul action figure? Revolution PAC, the super PAC supporting Paul’s candidacy, is betting on it.
Earlier this week, the group unveiled a pair of limited edition, talking action figures: a “Commander-in-Chief” Paul, replete with a the Texas Republican in a replica of one of his oversized suits, clutching a copy of the Constitution; and a “Super Hero” Paul donning Superman-like spandex. All proceeds, of course, go directly to the group’s efforts to net Paul the Republican nomination.
Gary Franchi, chairman of Revolution PAC, told Yahoo News that they produced 260 units of each 12-inch action figure, and have already sold more than 50 of the “Commander-in-Chief.” Push a button, and the toy plays a recording from a stump speech: “I’m Ron Paul, and I’m a champion of the Constitution.”
The “Super Hero” Paul isn’t selling as well, Franchi said, but it’s “still early.”
The Paul-supporting PAC isn’t alone in pushing campaign merchandise. Each of the remaining GOP candidates has dedicated online stores with (mostly) standard swag. And online stores for the now-defunct campaigns of Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry and Herman Cain live on. Even Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, the super PAC supporting Stephen Colbert, is selling t-shirts. (“T-shirts are the bumper-stickers of the torso,” the PAC explains on its website.)
And all of it, the campaign stores assure customers, was “made in the USA.”
But it’s not just pins and placards anymore. In a Cafe Press era, the candidates and their supporters have gotten pretty creative.
Gingrich’s store, for example, offers a “small-pet” bandana ($7.50). RonPaulSwag.com–an online store that supports the Revolution PAC–carries hundreds of Paul-promoting items, including posters, nickel-plated cufflinks (regularly $29.99 but yours today for $19.99!) and a “Ron Paul is My Homeboy” hoodie. (“We are always seeking ways to make liberty sexy with our unique mix of apparel and accessories,” the store’s mission states.)
Paul’s own campaign store has more typical fare, like a $5.00 set of issue-specific cards explaining Paul is “A Man of Faith.” (They also offer a Spanish version–“Un Hombre de Fe”–for “supporters who want to get the word out to our Spanish speaking friends.”) Herman Cain’s “999” store is still selling beer coozies: “Keep your beverage cool and your hands warm with a Herman Cain Can Cooler.”
Rick Santorum’s online store, meanwhile, recently extended its offer on official “Rick Santorum For President” sweater vests for those who contribute $100 or more to the former Pennsylvania senator’s campaign. “Perfect for demonstrating solidarity with true conservatives, this vest is a great way to show your support for Rick,” the campaign wrote in a message to supporters. “Don’t let sleeves slow you down–donate today!”
It’s worth noting that the official campaign stores for each candidate are bound by federal fundraising laws—meaning that each purchase counts toward a customer’s overall contribution limit of $2,500 per election. The super PAC-run stores have no such limit.
Aside from Paul, though, the 2012 candidate hawking the most variety of campaign merchandise is Barack Obama. The president’s 2012 campaign store has everything from $10 bumper magnets featuring First Dog Bo (“I Bark For Barack”) to a golf divot tool emblazoned with the campaign logo ($15) to a $35 Michelle Obama pin. In February, Obama’s store will launch a special “Runway to Win” section with items designed by the likes of Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg, Beyoncé and Diddy.
Franchi, though, is unfazed by Obama’s swag offerings, and is already working on another series of Ron Paul action figures. “Unlike Barack Obama,” he said, “this is the only way that Ron Paul can be bought.”