Costco as political backdrop: It’s about more than the hot dogs

Vice President Joe Biden looks over a selection of books while shopping at a Costco in 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Vice President Biden looks over a selection of books while shopping at a Costco in 2012. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Costco isn’t just a place to pick up a pallet of peanut butter or a buck-fifty hot-dog-and-soda combo.

It’s become a popular backdrop for a political photo op. Take Hillary Clinton, who held a book-signing at the bulk shopper’s paradise in Pentagon City on Saturday. She inscribed her memoir and posed for pictures with folks picking up their week’s supplies of paper towels and rotisserie chickens.

Vice President Biden took a well-publicized Costco shopping trip in 2012 to celebrate the opening of its first Washington outpost, snapping up a flat-screen TV, some books and a giant apple pie. Labor Secretary Tom Perez boasted at an event this year at the Lanham, Md., Costco that he’d bought his shirt and his glasses from the chain.

And as our colleague Monica Hesse reported, other pols who’ve held book events at the Pentagon City location include Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Jimmy Carter and Herman Cain.

So what’s the allure? For Democrats in particular, it’s a rare big-box store where the politics are right: The company typically pays more than the minimum wage, offers its employees health benefits, and its workforce is partially unionized.

Far less controversial for holding events — and even doing (or boasting of) some shopping — than the lightning rod that a Wal-Mart can be. And it strikes just the right tone, says one political consultant who has scoped out such locales for political events.

“Even a Target, in the wrong circumstances, could feel too upscale,” the consultant tells us.


Read more Reliable Source: 

Eliot Spitzer attends girlfriend’s Dartmouth reunion

Chris Wallace and Robert DeNiro bond over father-son relationships

Chris Christie: ‘You bet’ I would beat Hillary Clinton in a dance-off


Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.



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Emily Heil · June 16, 2014