Business is booming for Tony Baltes, Obama's king of swag
It was supposed to be a small project. When Tony Baltes won the contract to manufacture Barack Obama's campaign merchandise in January, he imagined a few T shirts, maybe some buttons. While driving to his company's headquarters in Greenville, Ohio, hours after Obama announced his presidential run, Baltes checked in with the operators of his website. "Any orders yet?" he asked, expecting maybe a dozen. The answer shocked him: "Four thousand."
And they kept coming, at a rate of 1,000 an hour through the weekend. Baltes, 58, who owns and runs the campaign-paraphernalia company Tigereye Design, has made pins, hats, T shirts and key chains for every Democratic presidential candidate (and a few Republicans) since 1976. Baltes and his wife Monica started out making pins out of their bedroom, working all night to finish their first order of 3,000 pins for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Their mutual love of politics soon centered their business on campaigns.
But something about Obama was different. Monica wrenched her knee just before the 2004 Democratic Convention and was forced to watch it on TV as her husband--who produced all of the convention's official buttons--toiled behind the scenes. She called Baltes immediately after Obama's keynote speech. "Did you hear that?" Monica gushed.
It was a perfect match when the Obama campaign chose to buck the traditional system of hiring a vendor to produce and distribute its paraphernalia. The bulk of the profit from $20.08 T shirts (the most popular item) and other gear goes to the campaign as a donation. Baltes produces the goods and ships them to wherever Obama is speaking; last-minute events may find one of his employees scrambling for a flight with suitcases stuffed full of Obama swag. Other candidates have now expressed interest in Baltes' wares. But his loyalty--and business--remains with Obama.
the full Ginsburg
DEFINITION the ful gins-burg n. The appearance on all five political TV talk shows on the same Sunday morning.
CONTEXT On Sept. 23, Senator Hillary Clinton filmed segments from her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., for ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NBC's Meet the Press, CNN's Late Edition, Fox News' Sunday with Chris Wallace and CBS's Face the Nation.
USAGE Ironically, the term was coined by Washington insiders after Monica Lewinsky's attorney William Ginsburg shuffled between studios to make the full circuit in February 1998.
'There will be no other primary. Florida Democrats absolutely must vote on Jan. 29.'
Karen Thurman, Florida Democratic chair, vowing to stick with the decision to move up the state's primary despite DNC threats to strip Florida Democrats of their delegates as a result
When a recently leaked e-mail revealed that Focus on the Family founder and Christian Right titan James Dobson had ruled out supporting Fred Thompson (who admitted he doesn't go to church), God-o-Meter's counter nearly bottomed out. But in the days following the leak, heavyweight Evangelicals like former presidential candidate Gary Bauer and the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land have come to Thompson's aid. Will religious conservatives remain divided or rally around Thompson? With the Christian Right élite anxious to get behind a candidate, we hear that the next few weeks are make-or-break for him.
God-o-Meter readings covering all the presidential candidates, visit beliefnet.com
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