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31 October 2008updated 27 Sep 2015 5:44am

Barack the Vote

Items for sale in Chicago proclaim 'Obama is my homeboy', 'Barack the vote' and 'Bros not hoes'.

By Jonn Elledge

Supporting Barack Obama? Troubled by halitosis? Then the gift stores of Chicago have just the product for you. ‘Mints for Obama,’ the fetchingly decorated tin announces; ‘Peppermints we can believe in.’

Or perhaps you’re having friends over, and want to show your support in a way that’s subtle yet fun. Why not treat yourself to a set of Obama playing cards, featuring all your favourites: Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and, of course, Mr Change himself.

If that’s not enough, Chicago’s boutiques also offer all the latest in Obama-wear. Slogans on offer include ‘Obama is my homeboy’, ‘Barack the vote’ and, for those who want to show they’re not new to the bandwagon, while simultaneously hinting at an edge of misogyny, the Barack and Hillary combo ‘Bros not hoes.’

The most coveted piece of Obama memorabilia, however, is a ticket to next week’s election night party in the city’s Grant Park. Campaign volunteers were given first dibs, meaning tickets for enthusiastic outsiders are in short supply. They’ve thus been changing hands for breathtaking sums – and been labelled ‘the hottest ticket in town’ by the local papers. One even carried a story of a man willing to take any hot woman with a spare ticket out to dinner (lucky girls).

Even in the heart of Obama’s adopted home, there is McCain material available, including both playing cards and mints (‘Peppermints for McCain – proven fresh breath’). But demand is low. ‘Yeah, we sell some,’ the shopkeeper told me brightly when I asked how they were shifting. As much as Obama? ‘Well, no, the ratio’s about ten to one.’ Pause. ‘You’re not for McCain, are you?’

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