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McConnell Campaign’s 'Cocaine Mitch' T-Shirts Raise over $70,000, Mostly From New Donors

Love him or hate him, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has some real marketing talent on his campaign team. Earlier this month, McConnell’s campaign began selling “Cocaine Mitch” t-shirts on the campaign website, urging buyers to join the “Team Mitch Cartel.”

In the short time the t-shirts have been available, McConnell’s campaign raised over $70,000 from its sales.

Roughly four out of five of the purchasers of the $35 T-shirts are first-time donors to the Kentucky Republican's campaign, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.

“One of the things we learned with this whole 'Cocaine Mitch' phenomenon is that people are really engaged,” Josh Holmes, a consultant for McConnell's reelection campaign, told the watchdog organization. “They want content. They want merchandise.”

He added that the tactic is “not something we would have done in 2014” and called it a “new and unique way to capitalize on what is now a very … vibrant online democracy that is interested in participating if you give them a reason to.”

“Cocaine Mitch” was originally coined by Don Blankenship during his failed Senate campaign in West Virginia in 2018. In 2016, the Trump campaign similarly exploited Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark disparaging his supporters, which gloriously backfired on her.

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Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacy, will be published in July 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis