Republican National Committee redecorates with rare autographed campaign signs

March 21, 2013

Reince Priebus was headed out of the office to lunch recently when he startled a co-worker by suddenly ripping photos off the wall.

With all due respect to the GOP dignitaries that had been staring down at him, they were too obscure, too random, too outdated. It was time for some redecorating at the Republican National Committee headquarters, the chairman decreed.


Sean Spicer, communications director, and Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee looking at the new gallery of autographed  presidential campaign posters. (Photo by Amy Argetsinger for the Washington Post)

This week, Priebus’s communications director, Sean Spicer, completed a months-long quest to collect campaign posters from every GOP presidential ticket of the past three decades, autographed by the candidates.

If the new decor lining a front corridor of the RNC offices on Capitol Hill seems a little obvious, it wasn’t. Spicer had to tap into a network of friends and collectors just to find the posters — so ubiquitous in their day but so quickly gone.

WASHINGTON DC - MARCH 20: Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, looking at the RNC’s new gallery of old Republican presidential campaign posters autographed by the candidates. It took the RNC months to acquire. (Photo by Amy Argetsinger for the Washington Post) FOR ONE TIME USE ONLY. NO SALES.
Sean Spicer points at some of the autographed signs. (Photo by Amy Argetsinger for the Washington Post)

“People take their yard signs down and throw them away,” he told us. “If they keep them, it’s because they’re political memorabilia collectors.” And the collectibles market is fairly tight these days, he added.

“If you go onto eBay and look for Reagan-Bush signs, you can’t find one.”

No reprints here; the posters are credibly vintage and authentic. Dole-Kemp ’96 is badly creased. Bush-Cheney 2000 bears white scuff marks on its field of blue. There’s a big vertical fold mark in Reagan-Bush ’84.

The next step was procuring the signatures of all living ex-candidates. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, both still in the party loop, were the easiest; they caught up with John McCain while he was campaigning for Romney in Ohio. Despite his poor health, George H.W. Bush was delighted to sign his posters, then shipped them on to Dan Quayle, who did the same.

Dick Cheney they caught up with in a tight window between a doctor’s appointment and a 10-day hunting trip. Spicer sent a couple of interns to the former veep’s house in McLean, warning them not to bog him down in needless chit-chat. Cheney ended up talking politics and posing for photos with them. “I think it made their whole internship,” Spicer said.

What about the losing candidates — did the posters bring back bad feelings? No, not even Sarah Palin, who has distanced herself from the GOP establishment since her race.

“They were all our nominees,” said Spicer. ”They were part of history.”

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