An image from two Ohioan Trump supporters’ provocative t-shirts, which proclaimed they would “rather be a Russian than a Democrat,” made its way to Russian state television on Monday, according to one observer.
Julia Davis noted on Twitter that a presenter on state-owned Russia-1 had held up a shirt with a similar graphic on air, saying, “Look, these T-shirts are now being sold in the United States and are in high demand in the Republican camp.”
#Russia's state TV host says:
"Look, these T-shirts are now being sold in the United States and are in high demand in the Republican camp. It says, "I'd rather be a Russian than a Democrat." Note how the trends change with the times." ©️ pic.twitter.com/vxOwwNAJmG
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) August 6, 2018
It’s not at all clear there’s high demand for the shirts, nor even that they’re being sold anywhere. Cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer first photographed James Alicie and Richard M. Birchfield wearing them at Trump’s rally on Saturday.
The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Kesling told TPM that he interviewed both men Saturday, and that “one said he had printed it himself and it was the first time he’d worn it in public.”
— Jeremy Pelzer (@jpelzer) August 5, 2018
The shirt appears to use a stock image of a boxing elephant and donkey as its background, overlaid with red and blue text.
Pelzer said Alicie told him, in the reporter’s words, that “he didn’t understand why Trump is getting so much criticism about Russia when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama weren’t similarly scrutinized.”
“Jump on board this train and give [Trump] a chance,” Alicie said, asked for his message to Democrats.
“Amen,” Birchfield responded, according to a subsequent article.
“Russia would be a lot better off being our friend and ally than an enemy,” Alicie added.
Both men told Cleveland.com they would vote for Troy Balderson, the Republican nominee to fill former Rep. Pat Tiberi’s (R-OH) congressional seat, which has been vacant since January. Balderson also spoke at the rally Saturday.
Alicie said Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s (R) lack of support for Trump “broke my heart.” Kasich, a vocal Trump critic despite being a fellow Balderson endorser, told ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that Balderson had told him he didn’t invite Trump to Ohio.
“I asked him, I said, ‘Troy, why— Did you invite Trump in here? The President?’ He said, ‘No, I didn’t,’” Kasich said. “So I think Donald Trump decides where he wants to go, and I think they think they’re firing up the base.”
H/t Julia Davis.