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Trump Seizes On Soggy Paper Straws As Campaign Issue: 'Make Straws Great Again'

"Now you can finally be free from liberal paper straws that fall apart within minutes and ruin your drink," declares President Trump's campaign manager.
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
"Now you can finally be free from liberal paper straws that fall apart within minutes and ruin your drink," declares President Trump's campaign manager.

President Trump appears to have identified his newest American enemy — paper straws.

His reelection campaign is selling reusable and recycled straws in its 2020 online store, and Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale blasted the slurping nonsoggy alternative in an email titled "Make Straws Great Again," a play on the president's famed slogan.

"I'm so over paper straws, and I'm sure you are too. Much like most liberal ideas, paper straws don't work and they fall apart instantly. That's why we just launched our latest product - Official Trump Straws," Parscale wrote late Friday. "Now you can finally be free from liberal paper straws that fall apart within minutes and ruin your drink."

Journalist Yashar Ali appears to have been the first to notice the new merchandise in Trump's campaign store. A pack of 10, which are red and emblazoned with "TRUMP" in silver, is available for $15. However, it takes almost two weeks for shipping.

Parscale had registered his frustrations with the newest eco-friendly fad earlier this week on Twitter.

And earlier on Friday, Trump himself weighed in on the issue during a gaggle with reporters, saying, "I do think we have bigger problems than plastic straws," arguing that plates and wrappers are also made of plastic but aren't receiving as much attention or disdain.

"Everybody focuses on the straws. There's a lot of other things to focus [on]," he said.

Many environmental groups have been pushing for alternatives to plastic disposable straws, which gained traction in the wake of a video showing a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck up its nose. However, the paper alternatives that many restaurants have begun using often quickly become mushy and unusable as the liquid permeates them. There are nonpaper, nonplastic alternatives that are slowly gaining steam, including hay straws, bamboo straws, reusable metal straws or glass straws, or restaurants can encourage patrons not to use straws, as Starbucks has with new lids.

This is hardly the first time Trump has tried transform such an issue into a partisan wedge and has especially taken glee time and time again in mocking environmental initiatives, such as the Green New Deal. He has also cast doubt on the reality of climate change. And it could also be his way of trying to distract from yet another rough week politically in the wake of his racist attacks on four Democratic freshmen congresswomen of color.

The scourge of paper straws, however, isn't just a conservative issue, as Trump's campaign wants to frame it. Earlier this week, Sacha Haworth of the liberal opposition research group American Bridge 21st Century tweeted her own frustrations with paper straws.

(Full disclosure: This journalist, and many others, have also often tweeted about paper straw grievances).

This also isn't the first time that efforts to make disposable dinnerware greener have been used as a political cudgel. After Democrats flipped the House in 2006, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed to phase out plastic foam in the Capitol cafeterias and bring in "corn-based, compostable dishes and utensils," according to The Hill. But when Republicans won back the House in 2010, they brought back the nonrecyclable plastic foam.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.
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