Outside GOP Convention, Calling Hillary Clinton a 'B----' Is a Bestseller
On Alex Zull’s folding table a block away from the entrance to the Republican National Convention site, the runaway bestsellers among his offerings are those with the crudest of anti-Hillary Clinton slogans.
There’s a button that reads, beneath a snarling photo of the former Secretary of State: “Life’s a Bitch, Don’t Vote For One.”
Then there’s one that likens the former Democrat U.S. senator’s candidacy for president of the United States to a Kentucky Fried Chicken special: “2 Fat Thighs, 2 Small Breasts Left Wing.”
And the “Hillary for Prison” button, well, you have to take Zull’s word on that one, because that one’s sold out. All at a price of $5 apiece. By 4 p.m., the 22-year-old vendor has pocketed $1,000.
Beside the hot-selling buttons is a pile of t-shirts that show Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on a motorcycle headed toward the White House as a cartoon Clinton tumbles to the pavement at Trump’s back wheel.
On the back of cartoon Trump’s shirt is this quip: “If you can read this, the bitch fell off.”
Zull, who says he is neither Republican nor Democrat (“I’m nothing, I don’t care”), sees in the convention-goers who stop at his table all anti-Clinton glee. “I don’t know how many people walk by that button board and just laugh. Nobody barely wants Trump things. It’s the bitch buttons that’s what’s making the money this week,” Zull said Wednesday. He’s from Miami and in Cleveland just for the convention sales opportunity.
Across 4th Street, rival vendor Dawn Parsons, 40, tells PEOPLE the same three anti-Clinton buttons are her bestsellers. “People are very amused by them,” says the mother of three. As for calling Clinton the b-word, Parsons admits that, as a woman, it makes her “a little uncomfortable.”
“And you don’t even want to know what my mother would say,” adds Parsons.
Meghan McCain, a Republican analyst and talk-radio host (who also happens to be the daughter of 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and knows a thing or two about nasty politics), says the buttons and t-shirts are “horrible.”
“You automatically defeat your argument and people aren t going to listen to you when you go to misogyny or sexism,” McCain told PEOPLE Thursday. “It makes people sympathize with [Clinton], even me. I sympathize with anyone called a bitch or subjected to what’s on that KFC button.”
“There’s no place for it in politics, but this election cycle is way out the window of what I think is civilized decorum, so I m not surprised,” McCain added.
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On the convention floor, Florida delegate Robin Bernstein says: “The Trump organization has not sanctioned any of this and would not be a part of anything like this no matter how well they are doing.”
The tamer name-calling on the unofficial souvenirs outside labels the former First Lady a “tramp” and “liar.” (Inside the convention venue, official RNC merchandise sticks to featuring the Trump Pence campaign logo – and elephants, the GOP mascot.)
And there are ample references to Clinton’s email scandal – a shirt that reads “Delete Hillary,” a button that reads, “Hillary’s Lies Matter.”
“This is a very tough campaign,” says Parsons, as she makes change on a sale of a camouflage trucker hat with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
A stampede of Cleveland police officers suddenly barrels down the narrow street and her fellow vendor, Zull, utters a startled expletive, looking anxiously in the direction they are running. At the end of the block, a knot of demonstrators – some hoisting anti-gay signs, others sporting anti-Allah t-shirts – is angrily clashing with counter-protestors.
It’s a melee that would leave two officers injured and 17 people under arrest.
Does Zull worry that the viciousness of the messages on his buttons and shirts is fueling ugliness on the fringes of this political convention?
“I do and I don’t,” Zull says. “I guess I feel bad. My dad just laughs at the bitch thing. But my mom’s like, ‘You’re horrible!’ I have to admit it is disgusting.”