Campaign Crawlers

John Edwards Accepts Federal Matching Clothes

His political future hangs by a thread.

By 10.29.07

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- Presidential candidate John Edwards announced today that he would accept matching suits, shirts and neckties from the federal government in exchange for limiting his campaign expenditures on hair care and other grooming products.

"I believe that every candidate for the presidency of the United States should have the same opportunity to look fetching in front of the television cameras," Edwards said during a press conference in his dressing room. "For that reason, today I accept a wardrobe from the United States government and agree to make myself look more like a seven, maybe even a six-and-a-half, instead of a solid eight or nine. And I urge all other candidates to do the same."

Edwards turned his 40 x 25 closet full of $1,500 suits, $200 shirts and $600 shoes over to federal regulators this morning. In return, he received seven $300 wool-blend suits that are sure to shine after a few weeks' heavy wear on the campaign trail, seven cotton-polyester blend dress shirts, two pair of $80 store-brand wingtips, seven $25 silk neckties with geometric patterns on them, and two $25 outlet-store leather belts.

Agents of the Federal Election Commission also confiscated all of Edwards' hairspray, shampoo, conditioner, exfoliating shower sponges, perfumes and personal tanning beds. They replaced his 16 bottles of imported shampoo and four bottles of conditioner with two 99-cent bottles of Suave. Bush administration officials had tried to get the Suave bottles replaced with bottles of Breck, but the FEC refused to allow anyone but Edwards pick his beauty products.

Edwards' challenge to other presidential candidates was answered only by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who agreed to give up his own personal grooming devices before realizing that he actually possessed none.

After changing into an ill-fitting federally issued charcoal gray suit, white shirt and blue tie, Edwards challenged Sen. Hillary Clinton to give up her extensive array of grooming products, expensive pant-suits and blonde hair dye.

"It is inherently unfair for one of the candidates to spend so much more money on her appearance than the rest of us," Edwards said. "If you ran the numbers, as I have, you'd see that Sen. Clinton spends roughly 2,000 times more on personal grooming than Dennis Kucinich does. And that's after he got married and started wearing deodorant on a regular basis, though unfortunately still not every day, as I discovered when I stood next to him in that one debate."

Later in the day, Sen. Chris Dodd became the first candidate to accept Edwards' challenge when he gave all of his suits to charity and pledged to wear only Boston Red Sox licensed merchandise from now until the day after the New Hampshire primary.

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About the Author

Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. You can follow him on Twitter at @Drewhampshire.