North Carolina GOP candidate thinks a 'banana republic' is the clothing store

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'I think that's an insult to Banana Republics across the country,' Bo Hines told a right-wing radio program.

A Republican nominee for a competitive House race in North Carolina compared the United States to a "banana republic" while confusing the political term with the clothing store Banana Republic.

Bo Hines, a 26-year-old former college football player, incorrectly defined a banana republic as the upscale, Gap-owned retailer, rather than the disparaging term for a small nation run by a corrupt government that depends on exporting natural resources.

Hines made the comment while discussing the Federal Bureau of Investigation's search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump's personal residence where he allegedly kept classified White House documents.

"You know, a lot of people have likened the situation that's going on right now as, you know, they say we're in a banana republic," Hines said in an Aug. 11 appearance on a right-wing radio program. "I think that's an insult to Banana Republics across the country. I mean, at least the manager of Banana Republic — unlike our president — knows where he is and why he's there and what he's doing."

There's a lot to unpack from Hines' comment.

"Banana republic" is a derogatory term for a small country run by a corrupt government that relies on the export of natural resources (like fruit) to survive in a global economy. They are not referring to the clothing store, as Hines appeared to believe.

To be clear, the United States is not a banana republic. It is one of the richest nations in the world, with a diverse economy and democratically elected leaders who are bound by laws and the U.S. Constitution.

Hines allegedly studied political science while attending an Ivy League school.

"After my freshman year, I transferred to Yale University to study political science and witness the legislative process first-hand on Capitol Hill," Hines wrote on his campaign website. "After graduating from Yale, I pursued a law degree from the Wake Forest School of Law to escape the leftist propaganda of the Ivy League."

According to Yale University's course catalog, the political science department has a full subfield dedicated to comparative politics. It's unclear if Hines took courses in that field, which examines different types of economic systems or power structures around the globe.

North Carolina's newly drawn 13th District is located in the Raleigh suburbs. Hines' race has a 3-point Republican lean, according to FiveThirtyEight, making it the most competitive district in the state.

Hines is running to replace Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), who is running for Senate to replace retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). He won the GOP primary with Trump's endorsement, defeating a host of other candidates including former Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC).

Hines is now facing off against Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel.

Polling from June, shortly after the primary wrapped up, shows Nickel has a slight lead over Hines.

Inside Elections rates the race a toss-up.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.