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US elections 2016

Are Trump and Clinton costumes too scary for Halloween?

The US presidential race and its unpopular candidates don't just turn off a lot of voters. Even as Halloween costumes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are unacceptable to many, Michael Knigge reports from Washington.

The line of customers looking for last-minute Halloween costumes was long on Saturday afternoon outside of the Total Party store in the Washington, DC, suburb of Arlington, Virginia. There was even a security guard on duty to manage the flow of shoppers into the store, one of the biggest costume and party supply outlets in the metropolitan Washington area.

Inside the store, people were eagerly trying on action hero costumes, donning black stovepipes or colorful jester hats and asking the helpful staff questions like whether the shop carries rubber hands that can be attached to one's leg. It doesn't.    

Though the store was brimming with shoppers and there were long lines to get to the fitting rooms and checkouts, one section right at the entrance was noticeably empty.

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Pick a president

The section holds political Halloween paraphernalia, such as red, white and blue sunglasses featuring the symbols of the Democratic and Republican parties, the donkey and the elephant, respectively, and what is sold as an instant President Theodore Roosevelt disguise kit, including a wig, mustache and glasses.

USA Halloween Masken (DW/M. Knigge)

It's a hairdo fit for a billionaire - but for the low, low price of $14.95

It also features a four-pack of cardboard stick masks of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama for less than $10 (9.10 euros).

But the highlights of the store's political Halloween corner are surely the full-face masks of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Made out of latex, the one-size-fits-all masks are definitely not accurate replicas of the candidates, but they get the characteristic facial expressions of the candidates right, depicting a screaming Trump and a smiling Clinton. With Election Day and the conclusion of what many consider a frightening presidential campaign just eight days after Halloween, who wouldn't want to make a political statement on fright night? 

Apparently, most of the folks shopping at Total Party wouldn't.

USA Halloween Masken (DW/M. Knigge)

The Roosevelt getup offers a retro alternative to the topical Clinton and Trump masks.

'Preposterous politics'

"No, I wouldn't consider it," John, a costumer from Arlington, said when asked whether he could imagine buying either of the masks. "The election brought up a lot of hard feelings for a lot of people, and Halloween is supposed to be a night for fun, especially at our age, so going as someone that's part of the election seems a little bit offensive or might offend some people, so better to avoid it altogether."

That sentiment was broadly shared by many shoppers. Of about a dozen customers asked, none expressed any interest in buying presidential election gear. Most simply do not want to have anything to do with this election, the candidates and politics. Others find presidential candidate masks uninspired as they expect them to be worn by many other Halloween revelers.  

Sam Armour, who works as a sales clerk at Total Party, confirmed that sales of Clinton and Trump masks are few and far between. "They are both selling about the same amount," Armour said. "If I had to tally it all the way up, I would give it a little bit more to him than to Clinton, but just because a lot of people have a certain way that they feel about the election. That's why this one is selling a bit more." 

USA Halloween Masken (DW/M. Knigge)

Armour says Trump sells slightly better, but people aren't necessarily dressing as him out of reverence

The only person in Total Party on Saturday afternoon who said she could at least imagine masquerading as one of the presidential candidates was Barbara Raizen, who was shopping with her daughter.

"Yes, it is a temptation to dress up as a politician, but I try to keep my fun and politics separate somewhat," Raizen said. "However, when sometimes there is too much preposterous politics going around, sometimes I get tempted to dress up like someone like Trump."

Ultimately, Raizen resisted the urge to go as Donald Trump on fright night and left without a mask of the presidential candidate.

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