Convention Barbie Suits Up, In Power Red, For The Gop

Posted: July 13, 2000

Convention Barbie's coming to Philadelphia for the GOP's grand old party at the end of the month. And she ain't bringing Ken.

"Ken is merely a boyfriend," said Julia Jensen, a Mattel spokeswoman.

Convention Barbie has a stylish pearl-buttoned red suit, pearl earrings, a convention pass and, naturally, red high heels. No pearl necklace.

"That's Barbara Bush," said Stephanie Mangino, a GOP convention spokeswoman. "This is Barbie Bush. I think Barbara has more personality."

Along with Altoids, a package of elephant-shaped Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, a stuffed beanie elephant, and other goodies, Convention Barbie will travel in a gift bag given to 5,000 delegates, alternates and extra-special Republicans.

The sample Convention Barbie at the GOP's convention headquarters had blond hair, but delegates also will get African American, Asian American and Latina Convention Barbies, all in the same red suit.

Mattel, the California company that sells Barbie, is donating the dolls, although it didn't say what an in-kind Barbie contribution is worth. A typical Barbie sells for about $13, but the Convention Barbies will be collector's items, available only to GOP VIPs.

"Barbie looks good, but she should have been wearing platform shoes," Mangino quipped. "I've got mine on. Barbie can eat her heart out."

Karen Johnson, an assistant convention manager with the GOP, remembers playing with her Malibu Barbie, all perky and tanned in her Day-Glo orange bathing suit (and of course, Barbie always swims in heels - doesn't everyone?).

"And now she's a delegate," Johnson marveled.

"I would hope that the message - if a doll could have a message - is that women do represent the Republican Party and do represent politics and more of them should enter politics," said Jan Larimer, cochair of the Republican convention.

Not to cause any problems, but Convention Barbie might be a spy - for would-be President Barbie.

"Barbie's actually running for president this year," said Mattel's Jensen. Barbie for President, sold only by Toys R Us, wears a blue suit, a campaign button and comes with a red inaugural gown - "Audrey Hepburn meets Jackie Kennedy with a string of lovely pearls."

Jensen said Barbie is running as the Party for Girls candidate. So what will GOP Convention Barbie be doing in Philadelphia? "She'll be taking notes."

It's a tad suspicious.

Mattel is also donating Convention Barbie dolls to the Democratic convention in Los Angeles.

And the Democratic Convention Barbie sports a blue suit . . . just like Barbie for President . . . hmmm.

"Barbie's almost as stiff as Al Gore," Mangino said. "I'll probably get fired for saying that."

So is Barbie really a Democrat?

"I think Barbie's for Bush," Johnson said. "That's my story and I'm sticking with it."

Jane M. Von Bergen's e-mail address is jvonbergen@phillynews.com

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