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NC congressional candidate championing 'America-first economy' hands out Chinese-made hats to voters

Republican political newcomer Bo Hines on Saturday gave voters campaign hats that were made in China. The candidate is backed by former President Donald Trump.

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Bo Hines Congressional Candidate Hat
By
Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — A Triangle congressional candidate who has championed U.S. manufacturing on the campaign trail recently handed out hats to voters that were made in China—a decision that brings into question policies advocated for on the campaign trail and online.

Bo Hines, the 26-year-old Republican political newcomer backed by former President Donald Trump in the 13th Congressional District, says on his website that he would work “to build an America-first economy” and “fight for and support American infrastructure” if elected.

"We must leverage the power of capitalism to create an economy that serves the American people by protecting American jobs and businesses,” Hines’ website says. “Our ‘America First’ trade policies and economic regulations should incentivize investment in our country and our citizens while discouraging offshoring and corporate inversions."

In a December 2021 conservative talk radio show appearance, Hines said, "We are free market capitalists as Republicans, but that also means we need to protect the American worker. In North Carolina especially, we've seen manufacturing jobs decimated because a lot of those jobs have been shipped offshore to China because the U.S. government has encouraged that activity through increased regulation.”

He added, “We have to deregulate. We have to incentivize our small businesses and our business owners to bring jobs back to the United States."

Hines, whose campaign said the candidate has long advocated for free market policies, confirmed on Tuesday that Hines and staff members distributed hats at a Saturday event in Johnston County that were made in China.

Photos obtained by WRAL News show a white hat labeled “Bo Hines for Congress” with a “Made in China” label. The hats also included a domain for a website of a South Carolina business called Whispering Pines Sportswear.

Photos obtained by WRAL News show a white hat labeled “Bo Hines for Congress” with a “Made in China” label.

Rob Burgess, a spokesman for Hines’ campaign, said his team ordered the hats and other apparel this year through Edge Promo Team, LLC, a Clayton-based printing and embroidery company. Campaign finance records show the campaign placed an $8,838 order from the Clayton business on Jan. 6.

“Bo Hines is a champion of the America First agenda that is spearheaded by President Donald J. Trump,” Burgess said in a statement. “That is why our campaign sought the services of a Johnston County apparel producer for a limited run of baseball hats. The campaign doesn’t believe it is good practice to interrogate small business owners on where the material for their products come from. Bo Hines is proud to support North Carolina small businesses and that will never change.”

A different hat available for purchase on Hines’ campaign website is described as “designed, embroidered, and packaged in the USA!” Burgess said the hats available on the website were not made by Edge Promo Team.

Hines is running in a crowded eight-person primary that includes lawyer Kelly Daughtry, political newcomer Kent Keirsey, former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, businessman DeVan Barbour, businessman Chad Slotta, physician Jessica Morel and lawyer Kevin Alan Wolff.

Hines has come under fire in recent months over his lack of longevity in the district. Hines spent a season playing football at North Carolina State University, lived in the area at the time and voted in Wake County for the 2014 general election.

Hines later transferred to Yale University to further his political ambitions and worked as an intern on Capitol Hill. He returned to North Carolina to earn a law degree at Wake Forest University.

When he announced his congressional bid, he spent much of 2021 and early 2022 campaigning in multiple districts in the surrounding Greensboro area before settling on a seat that now includes all of Johnston County and parts of Wake, Wayne and Harnett counties.

Hines last month moved to Fuquay-Varina, fulfilling a campaign pledge to relocate from a condo in downtown Winston-Salem to a property in Fuquay-Varina.

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