Fly swatters and Covid coins: this week on the US campaign trail

Washington (AFP) –


With less than a month until the US elections the race for the White House has thrown up a new trove of tidbits and odd moments, including a rush on fly swatters and a new presidential coin.

- Fly swats -

$350,000 in 24 hours. Democratic contender Joe Biden's campaign rode the coat tails of a housefly that settled on the smooth white hair of Vice President Mike Pence as he debated Biden's running mate Kamala Harris in Utah on Wednesday.

The fly's presence, undetected by Pence but spotted by thousands watching the debate, triggered a landslide of jokes and comments on social media and provided the Biden campaign with a real opportunity to cash in, by immediately flogging "Truth Over Flies" fly-swatters online for $10 a pop. The swatters sold out within a day.

- Naked ballots -

"I know what you’re thinking, you're thinking, 'Ruffalo um .… put some clothes on,'" said actor Mark Ruffalo, naked in his bathroom, in a video posted to anti-corruption site RepresentUS.

Along with comedians Chris Rock and Amy Schumer and model Naomi Campbell, Ruffalo stripped down to warn Americans about the danger of so-called "naked ballots" -- mail-in voting slips that will not be counted unless both the envelopes provided are used

"Follow ALL instructions carefully. If it says use two envelopes, use two envelopes. If it says use a black pen, use a black pen. Not funny. Not Sexy. But absolutely essential," the campaign warned.

- Covid coins -

Perhaps prematurely, since the president had not yet returned from the Walter Reed military hospital, the White House gift shop started advertising a commemorative coin bearing the logo "Trump Beats Covid" on Monday.

Even though the president has since returned to the Oval Office, his doctors have shied away from backing his own pronouncement that he is cured.

"We knew our President would find a way to knockout COVID in early rounds of his battle," said the gift shop on the its website, which is not directly affiliated with the White House.

Fans were invited to pre-order the coin, featuring a motif of superheroes, for the price of $100.

- Cotton swabs for the White House -

Even as the president claimed to be defeating the disease that has infected more than seven million Americans, and killed more than 200,000 of them, his staff and entourage were testing positive in droves.

To the extent that the Democratic mayor of Washington, DC, set up a coronavirus testing and contact-tracing site just outside the White House, which has become its own small epicenter for the deadly virus.

The city said it had set up the site because of "the growing number of positive Covid cases reported from staff working in and near the White House (...) and our understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date."