T-Shirts with a Twist, the New Way to Campaign

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- On Saturday thousands of activists will make their way to Des Moines for yet another political event.

11 Republican presidential hopefuls will attend the Iowa GOP annual Lincoln Dinner and they're hoping to see some young people in the crowd. However, campaigns say targeting that demographic can be a challenge.

Des Moines Register political reporter, Josh Hafner says, “It's a long process between now and February 1, so to get the attention span of young people and to get them fired up in a sustaining way, that's not just excitement that burrows out, is an interesting process."

Hafner says the method campaigns are using to reach out to young people, are slightly different from what they were in 2008. Back then, he says Obama’s campaign use social media to reach out to voters but eight years later, the internet is being used in a different way.

“I feel like the internet is slowly creeping to the presidential campaign, you are starting to see almost a memeification of how these campaigns are doing their communication efforts, “ Hafner said.

Rand Paul’s campaign is trying an old trick with a new twist. The campaign is selling “hipster” campaign shirts that are geared toward the younger crowd.

Des Moines based custom T–shirt shop, RAYGUN, sells political t-shirts every election cycle. The shirts poke fun of candidates and the presidential race.

The store, which is mostly staffed by young adults, says the shirts are great way to attract young people and introduce customers to politicians.

“When you hear like Jeb Bush or Rand Paul or people like that, people are familiar with them we know what they’re about, it’s a lot easier to come up with some funny stuff to say about them,” says Director of Sales and Inventory at RAYGUN, Taylor Frame.

Frame, although not a political guru, says he watches the candidate speeches closely in order to come up with t–shirt slogans. He says the overall exposure helps him understand the issues better.

Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Donald Trump and Scott Walker will speak at the Iowa Events center on Saturday. The event begins at 5:30pm. Tickets for the event start at $100 each.

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