The online store of the Trump Make America Great Again committee is holding a Black Friday sale through the weekend.
The Black Friday sale maintains a trend Trump started when he took the unprecedented step of raising money for his reelection campaign during the first year of his presidency, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which studies campaign fundraising.
“The frequency and intensity of the political marketing from the 2016 campaign continues,” she said. “It’s as if the campaign never ended – and in a very real way, it hasn’t.”
Trump’s merchandising has fueled small-dollar donors, who give $200 or less to a committee. Federal Election Commission filings show they have contributed $14 million through the end of September to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which receives the proceeds from the online store. How much of that money comes from the sale of merchandise doesn’t have to be disclosed. Proceeds of the sales benefit Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee.
This year, small donors represent 72 percent of the $7.8 million raised by the Trump campaign and 58 percent of the $82.7 million the RNC raised, according to FEC filings. The two committees that support House and Senate Republicans have collectively received just 24 percent of their support. This lags far behind their Democratic counterparts, who have received 42 percent of their support in small donations, which can be a proxy for grassroots enthusiasm.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee all sell merchandise online, though none is having a Black Friday sale. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee doesn’t have an online store.
The campaign promoted the sale with text messages to supporters Friday. “President Trump has a GREAT DEAL for you,” it said. “You’ve qualified for 30% OFF the entire Trump Store.” The message includes a brief video montage of Trump talking about getting “great deals” and advises shoppers to use the coupon code “Giving.”
Shoppers can receive 30 percent off of pint glasses embossed with the logo for Trump’s inauguration, T-shirts and coffee mugs. Tree ornaments shaped like the signature “Make America Great Again” baseball cap are also available, as are the caps themselves. There is a deluxe edition featuring embroidered yuletide lights on the peak and “Merry Christmas” on the back, which normally sells for $45 but is now $31.50.
It’s the second Black Friday sale the online store has held. In 2016, the campaign did the same thing, advising shoppers to enter the coupon code “BlackFriday” to get the discount.
Trump’s campaign committee pays for the merchandise it sells. Through the end of September, it spent $1.5 million on T-shirts, mugs, signs, medals, coins and other items to sell to supporters, according to FEC records.
Trump trademarked the phrase “Make America Great Again” in 2012 and assigned ownership of it to his campaign committee in July 2015, according to records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.