Republicans have been boasting of their new digital campaign toolbox, but as the 2016 presidential race kicks into gear, they have gone retro by using vintage T-shirts as a fund-raising device. The Republican National Committee is making a year-end push to peddle red and blue "Reagan/Bush '84" shirts for $27. The shirts are a "throwback to the days of strong, principled leadership in the White House," the committee says. (They are also a throwback to a very good year for Republican presidential politics: President Ronald Reagan carried 49 states.)
It seems a little harsh to say the Republican National Committee is living in the past, but when the shirt fits....
Just a few months after President Obama's first inaugural, Jeb Bush appeared at a Republican event and urged his GOP allies to move past "nostalgia."
"You can't beat something with nothing, and the other side has something," the former Florida governor said at the time. 'I don't like it, but they have it, and we have to be respectful and mindful of that."
Bush added, "So our ideas need to be forward looking and relevant. I felt like there was a lot of nostalgia and the good old days in the [Republican] messaging. I mean, it's great, but it doesn't draw people toward your cause."
That was over five years ago. As of this week, the RNC is still counting on shirts promoting their presidential ticket from 30 years ago to boost a year-end fundraising pitch.
So much for "forward looking."
Indeed, it's a curious message from the RNC. The party longs for "the days of strong, principled leadership in the White House"? Even if we assume they hold Clinton and Obama in contempt, doesn't this RNC message seem a little insulting to the Bush/Cheney and Bush/Quayle eras?
Sure, Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six national elections, but does the RNC really have to go back three decades to find a presidential election cycle the party is excited about?