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Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

McAuliffe’s Formula for Inaugural Excitment



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The video of Terry McAuliffe’s appearance on the home-shopping channel QVC, hawking Inauguration knick-knacks, must be out there somewhere. The New York Times wrote about it at the time:

Eyes gleaming, the saleswoman leaned conspiratorially toward her television audience.

“You can’t find these things anywhere else unless you have inside connections,” she confided, “or you live in Washington, where maybe one or two stores are selling what we have.”

The oh-so-exclusive merchandise? Medallions featuring Bill Clinton’s face, pens featuring his name, envelopes featuring his hometown postmark, books featuring his ideas, and license plates emblazoned with a promise to build a bridge to . . . you know.

All of it is official inaugural memorabilia, and all of it is for sale for the first time to a national audience — for a special price, plus shipping and handling, if you act soon — on the QVC cable shopping network.

Eager to move more merchandise than four years ago to cover the budget for Clinton’s inauguration, the Presidential Inaugural Committee has turned to QVC, which is perhaps better known for hawking gold chains, “Brite Stik Tooth Whitening Pens,” and rear-end-tauteners than flogging items celebrating the inauguration of the president of the United States.

But there on Monday night, sandwiched between a program advertising National Football League merchandise and one pushing topaz jewelry, was Terry McAuliffe, the redoubtable Democratic fund-raiser and co-chairman of the inaugural committee.

One hopes he was either underselling the inauguration or overselling QVC when, standing on Pennsylvania Avenue in suit and tie, he invoked QVC’s favorite adjective to declare: “One of the more exciting aspects of this inauguration is the agreement that we have with QVC.”

McAuliffe’s appearance came in early January 1997.

Then again, McAuliffe told CNN that QVC sold “a quarter of a million dollars” of inaugural memorabilia. Maybe we’ll see him selling McAuliffe for Governor knick-knacks on the channel sometime before November.

UPDATE: Howard Mortman went into the archives and dug up the highlights of QVC’s coverage on Inauguration Day, which did not feature McAuliffe.

The Hotline

January 22, 1997

INAUGURATION: AN HOUR OF PATRIOTISM, HOME SHOPPING-STYLE   

As seen on QVC, between noon and 1 p.m. on Inauguration Day.

12:00     Bob, the host, displays the Official 1997 Presidential Inaugural Invitation Set (item L-47400, $240, shipped on 2/20), a”beautiful” invitation that comes in a “beautiful” blue binder.

Bob: “Of course, QVC is completely non-partisan.  It just so happens that he have a Democratic president and vice president going in.  But we ourselves are completely non-partisan.  We just want you to have some of the memorabilia of the democracy.  It’sa proud day to be an American.”12:02     The Official 1997 Presidential Inaugural Pin by AnnHand (item L-47392, $45, shipped on 1/21), the Official 1997Presidential Inaugural Plate (item L-47406, $48, shipped on1/31), and the Official 1997 Presidential Inaugural Medallion(item L-47385, $36 for bronze through $695 for gold, shipped on1/21) are displayed.

12:04     Bob announces QVC will show the swearing-in: “You’re going to be seeing history in the making.  As history continues on, our country is the only in history that has ever pre-planned the changing of power, and it is a ceremony that allows us to renew our democratic ideals.  It allows us to renew our visions. Maybe reminds us to maybe take a look at our goals and our dreams as well.”

12:05     QVC cuts to a live shot of the administering of theoath of office to President Clinton.

12:06     Bob: “I don’t know about you, but that was pretty electric here at QVC.  And really, when you think about taking us into the 21st century … we have some things to commemorate the electricity of that moment.”

12:08     Dee from California calls about the Invitation Set (item L-47400).  Bob: “What does it mean to you?”  Dee: “It just means so much to me.” 

Bob, later in the conversation: “And, you know, it’s a great day to be an American, too, because we’ve been able to maintain this for 200-some odd years, regularly, all the way down the line.  And it makes you feel good, doesn’t it?”Dee: “It just gives me such a great feeling, I mean, to be part of this, at least to watch it with QVC and C-SPAN.”  Dee, later on: “I’m so glad for QVC for having this thing because it’s never been done before.” 

Bob: “No, this is the very first time, sothere’s a lot of firsts, aren’t there?”  Dee: “Oh, and I’m soexcited. … Thank you a lot Bob, and I like your cooking shows,too.”  Bob: “Thank you, thank you very much.  We’re going to do one tomorrow, ten hours of cooking, starting at noon eastern.”

12:10    QVC cuts to Clinton delivering inaugural address.

12:14     Nancy from Nevada calls about the Pin (item L-47392).

Bob: “How do you plan to wear this?”  Nancy: “On a suit,probably, you know, when I go out for something nice.”

12:17     The Plate (item L-47406) is shown.  Bob: “Imagine, notonly picking up the inaugural plate, but picking up something byone of the great names in the world, Wedgewood.  Combine the twoand you have an heirloom.” 

Bob said the Plate “will give you a great deal of pride and a wonderful sense of being an American and being part of the history of America in this presidential year, this inauguration year.”  Later, Bob corrects himself: the plate is Woodmear china, not Wedgewood.

12:21     Melba from Washington state calls in about the Plate.Bob: “Do you feel good to be an American?”  Melba: “Of course.”

12:23     Helen from Texas calls about the Plate.  Bob: “What does it mean to you as an American?”  Helen: “I can’t really put it in words, what it means to me.”  Bob: “You can feel it though,you feel a sense of pride?”  Helen: “Oh, yes.”

12:24     QVC cuts to tape of Vice President Gore earlier being administered the oath.12:26     Bob shows the Medallions (item L-47385), which “may be the most collectible pieces of any inauguration.  They go back all the way to George Washington.”  Bob notes the Medallions can be purchased through “Easypay” installments.

12:32     The Official 1997 Presidential Inaugural Button Set(item L-47402, $9, shipped on 1/21) is displayed.  Bob shows a button portraying “Great Democratic Presidents of the United States.”  The button has Clinton at the center. 

Bob: “Mr.Clinton is the first Democratic President to be re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt, which makes this pin really quite unusual.”

12:36     QVC shows tape of Miller Williams delivering his poem.Bob later calls ‘93 Inaugural poet Maya Angelou “a great poet,nice lady, who read quite a poem.”

12:37     Bob shows the Official 1997 Presidential Inaugural License Plates (item L-47386, $25-$45, shipped on 1/25).

12:47     QVC cuts to a live wide shot of the Capitol.

12:48     Bob shows the Official 1997 Presidential Inaugural Tote Bag (item L-47412, $24, shipped 1/21).

12:56     Peggy from South Carolina calls and announces she has ordered the invitation set, the sweatshirt, the book, the plate,the mug, the buttons, the pearls, the pin, the pen, and the totebag.  Peggy: “QVC is just fantastic to bring us this opportunity.”


Tags: Terry McAuliffe


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