Thursday, May 05, 2005

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: BILL '08, THE T-SHIRT FRONT

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 5, 2005


Whenever someone asks Gov. Bill Richardson whether he's running for president in 2008 these days he'll just chuckle and answer with some variation of his official line of "Aw shucks, I'm too busy being governor of New Mexico to even think about that."

But out in Cyber Land, on at least one merchandising Web site, it appears that several people are trying to promote a Richardson 2008 campaign - or at least make a few bucks trying.

If you go to www.cafepress.com, click on "Go Shopping" and do a search for Bill Richardson, you'll find a whole souvenir shop full of Richardson paraphernalia.

There's Richardson 2008 T-shirts and sweat shirts - long sleeved, short sleeved, no sleeved - with several designs, Richardson 2008 coffee mugs, Richardson 2008 refrigerator magnets, Richardson 2008 tote bags and, of course, red-white-and-blue Richardson 2008 buttons, Richardson 2008 bumper stickers.

You can find Richardson 2008 baseball jerseys, Richardson 2008 golf shirts, Richardson 2008 BBQ aprons, Richardson 2008 infant creepers.

One bumper sticker even has a running mate chosen for the governor: "Richardson Obama 2008. "

Most of the goods feature generic looking logos. But you can find a few items featuring the face of our governor.

The site allows you to sort the goods by popularity. Apparently the biggest selling Richardson item at Cafepress is the "Bill Richardson President 2008 Trucker Hat" selling for $16.99.

These are few of my favorite things:

* The "Bill Richardson President 2008 Dog T-shirt" $19.99 "Put your pooch in his own cool doggie T-shirt," the blurb says. "Let him wear a doggie-cool design so he can express what he'd like to bark out loud." You'd think it would at least mention the fact that Richardson signed "Scooby's Law."

* The "Patriotic Richardson 2008 Boxer Shorts" $14.99 These feature an "open fly .for thinking outside the boxers."

* The "Bill Richardson President 2K8 Classic Thong." Under the description it says "Bill Richardson served in the US Congress, a US Ambassador, Energy Department chief, and Governor of New Mexico. Add to that his Hispanic heritage, and is a solid choice for President in 2008." But when you click "More details," you get beyond the governor's resume: "This under-goodie is 'outta sight' in low-rise pants. Toss these message panties onstage at your favorite rock star or share a surprise message with someone special ... later." Makes you wonder: Did Monica Lewinsky wear a Bill Richardson thong? This sells for $9.99.

Who's selling this stuff?: Cafepress is an umbrella for several web-based "shops" in which anyone can design and sell their own T-shirts, mugs, thongs or wall clocks. Merchants can remain anonymous behind monikers like "Irregular Goods: For Progressive Resistance," "Pres 2008" and "Democrats for President 2008 Bumper Stickers, More."

A spokeswoman for Cafepress couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Many of these "shops" sell doodads for several possible candidates. For instance at ButtonZup, Richardson is one of 11 possible Democratic contenders. He's right between former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and under Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

Though the overwhelming majority of the Richardson curios at Cafepress are supportive, there's one bumper sticker the governor wouldn't like: "Another Hard-working Teacher Stabbed in the Back by Gov. Bill Richardson," it says. This sticker, selling for $3.99, is offered by an outfit called "Unpractical Apparel." The only other politician to get barbed here is President Bush. He's on a T-shirt that says, "The W stands for Worthless." An e-mail to this merchant was unanswered by press time.

Thoughts from the gov's office: Asked what Richardson thinks about this treasure trove of Richardson products, the governor's chief of staff and 2002 campaign manager Dave Contarino said Wednesday Richardson is focused on his 2006 re-election campaign.

"It's flattering that at a national level there's a market for Bill Richardson memorabilia," Contarino said. "Unfortunately we can't share in the proceeds and royalties."

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