This week, Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman found himself in the middle of a heated debate after House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer relaxed the unofficial Senate dress code—a decision Fetterman reportedly says he did not request, but that many assume is related to the senator’s ultra-casual style.
But while everyone was duking it out on X/Twitter (and at press conferences, and in OpEds), Fetterman was collecting the insults that were being lobbed at him. And then, he put them on a T-shirt. It’s currently sold through Fetterman’s online shop.
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) September 19, 2023
Fetterman is far from the first political figure to capitalize on publicized negativity—former president Donald Trump even turned his mug shot into a T-shirt design—but here are a few more who have turned heated words into a fundraising opportunity:
Early last year, Dr. Anthony Fauci was caught in a hot-mic situation, calling Republican senator Roger Marshall a “moron” at a Congressional hearing after a tense exchange about the then-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director’s financial disclosures. Marshall’s line of questioning was widely criticized, but within days, his campaign was selling T-shirts with Fauci’s face behind the text: “MORON.”
In 2017, Elizabeth Warren protested the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General with a “lengthy” speech to the dismay of Mitch McConnell, who said she “had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Almost immediately, “Nevertheless, she persisted” merch was born. Tees are still sold for $30 through the Massachusetts senator’s official campaign shop.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 7, 2017
Months after then presidential candidate Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” during a 2016 debate, comedian Samantha Bee launched a collection of “nasty woman” T-shirts to raise money for Planned Parenthood. In July 2017, Clinton wore one on Twitter, linking back to the merch site.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 11, 2017