Is Donald Trump an undercover conspirator in the war on Christmas? Judging from his campaign merchandise offer, maybe.
Unlike many of his rivals, the Republican frontrunner isn't selling Christmas-themed gear for the holiday season on his campaign Web site, points out New Republic's Elspeth Reeve. This is in contrast with his promises on the campaign trail to be extra-Christmas friendly, pledging to bring "Merry Christmas" back into the American vocabulary and tossing his support behind those boycotting Starbucks over its plain, red cups.
Yet, there is one holiday, a more-secular event, that Trump's campaign is boosting: Black Friday.
His camp sent an email last week offering a free Donald J. Trump supporter pack comprised of four of its "most popular items" (i.e. stickers and buttons) through Monday as part of a Black Friday deal. To get the gift, all buyers have to do is make a purchase of $50 or more through Trump's online store. Many presidential contenders, including Trump, sell themed merchandise to raise money for their campaigns.
"Today is a day to make great deals, just as we will do as a Country if I am President," reads the email.
Trump's nemesis on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, was perhaps more in the spirit of the season. Unlike the billionaire real estate magnate, Clinton has some holiday swag for sale, including an ornament, sweatshirt and cookie cutter.
Like Trump, however, Clinton's team also showed business savvy in taking advantage of the holiday sales period, sending out a Cyber Monday email offering discounts on all Hillary-themed merchandise and asking supporters to click to find out whether they'll get 5%, 10% or 15% off, a clever -- and annoying -- ploy to lure bargain shoppers (and people who like to gamble -- basically, everyone).
Other candidates are offering holiday-themed merchandise as well while also using up-to-date marketing tactics.
Ted Cruz's camp is offering a 20% Cyber Monday deal and auctioning off a signed, limited edition Cruz Christmas sweater, featuring the Texas senator's head with Santa hat, the White House and two "Don't tread on me" snakes (the sweater, unsigned, is also available for $65). Missing from the sweater are the words "Merry Christmas."
Priced at $30, the Christmas sweatshirt retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is selling on his website is a bit more wallet-friendly than that up for sale by Cruz. Carson is also selling a holiday t-shirt and a tree ornament that reads, "Merry Christmas from the Carsons."
Libertarian Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's campaign store has a holiday section, though not all of the items are actually holiday themed (for example, the Rand liberty glasses, first dad camping chair and a Hillary hard drive with a wiping cloth are offered). Also up for sale are Rand-themed Christmas cards and a Christmas mug.
So, along with Trump, which candidates (or, at least, their stores) are in the potentially anti-Christmas camp?
Marco Rubio's campaign launched a Cyber Monday campaign over the weekend that includes new products, free shipping and automatic entry into its raffle to attend the next Republican debate in Nevada. A season-appropriate cold weather bundle of a hat, scarf and "Wake up, America!" travel mug is available as well. But as is the case with Trump, no Christmas swag is in sight.
Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders did his own 15% sale on his campaign merchandise over the weekend, though no holiday-themed gear (Hanukkah, Christmas or otherwise) is available in his store.
Some White House contenders appear to be more in the Giving Tuesday spirit -- or, rather, hoping their supporters are.
Jeb Bush's campaign sent out a handful of emails soliciting donations over the holiday weekend, including one signed by former President George H.W. Bush that included a warning. "As I'm writing, Barbara, or as we call her, 'The Enforcer,' is sitting next to me writing an email of her own for those that don't step up. From the looks of it, you don't want to get that follow up email," the email reads. Just a friendly holiday threat!
The Bush camp also offered a 20% discount on Jeb gear over Thanksgiving weekend.
John Kasich sent an email Monday with the subject line, "This is NOT a Cyber Monday Email." Not that the Ohio governor doesn't want people to be spending -- he just hopes they'll do so on his campaign instead of on Amazon or eBay.
Mike Huckabee sent out a similarly themed email on Friday, asking supporters, "Did you save $ on Black Friday?" and encouraging donating $1 of the money saved to the former Arkansas governor's campaign.
As for Chris Christie, he has taken a bit of a different approach to the holidays. The New Jersey governor sent out a Thanksgiving email Thursday that, while including well wishes, made no explicit request for donations. His campaign also has no online store.
Perhaps on the cutting edge of all the season's cheer, the Cruz campaign also appears to be aware that it is hunting season in much of the country and has a special section for hunters in its online store, including camouflage hats, shirts and beer koozies.