In short order, the campaign sent an email to supporters with the subject line, “Making straws great again.” By the time Parscale landed in Florida, the presidential straws were already in production and an advertising campaign was up and running. The first batch was sold out within hours.

The ploy was part of a strategy to stoke and validate the grievances of Trump’s base — and then turn them into hard cash. The effort centers around novelty merchandise items the reelection campaign has been hawking on its website, including “Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff” T-shirts lampooning the Democratic congressman and Trump antagonist as a clown; “I Spy Trump” tees and tanks depicting the commander-in-chief being snooped on by former President Barack Obama; and, most recently, the plastic straws. The Trump 2020 online store has marketed the offering as an alternative to the more environmentally-friendly “liberal paper straws” that “don’t work.”…

“I think something Trump has always understood very clearly is how to tap into a cultural moment or zeitgeist and leverage it to his advantage,” said Tara McGowan, a top Democratic digital strategist who served on a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC during the 2016 campaign and has been active in the climate change movement. “So for him, taking a relatively new thing in the world that most people hate (paper straws) and leveraging it to both make a political statement and raise [hundreds of thousands] of dollars by selling plastic straws is both brilliant and sinister.”