Todd Muller defends owning 'MAGA' hat, says no one cares about his Hillary Clinton badge

The National Party's new leader has defended the presence of a 'MAGA' hat in his office, saying it's not indicative of his views. 

Todd Muller wrested control of the party from Simon Bridges in a caucus vote on Friday, after the latter sank National to its lowest poll results in more than 15 years, less than four months before the election. 

While he's been talking about toning down the ultra-partisan approach of his predecessor, eyebrows have been raised at the Bay of Plenty MP's choice of office decor. 

A profile on Muller published by The Spinoff in September last year included a photo of souvenirs he picked up while in the US in 2016 - including one of Donald Trump's signature 'Make America Great Again' hats. 

The photo was shared widely on social media on Friday night after Muller took the reins, with many shocked a New Zealand political leader would not just own, but display, such a divisive object.

"I don’t know what the intention was in Todd Muller buying a MAGA hat and what was behind the decision to display in his office," one person tweeted. "I do know what MAGA hats symbolise. Hate. Indifference. Rage. Fear. Hatred of women."

"Muller says he just has the MAGA hat because it's 'crazy times' and it was some sort of souvenir, but does anyone believe that if Bernie Sanders won he would have a Bernie hat," said another. "Obviously not, so it was a political choice of hat."

Donald Trump wears one of his signature hats.
Donald Trump wears one of his signature hats. Photo credit: Getty

Muller told Newshub Nation on Saturday morning he's just "a little bit of an American political junkie", and that's why he has the MAGA hat.

"I got one of those, and I got a Hillary Clinton badge. I've got them both in my office. But for some reason, the Hillary Clinton badge never gets looked at. Everyone sees the MAGA cap and somehow reaches a conclusion that perhaps is where my sympathies lie."

Todd Muller.
Todd Muller. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

Muller said while in the US he saw both Trump and his Democratic rival for President, Joe Biden, deliver speeches. 

"I went to the conventions four years ago, and in terms of the person who gave the best speech, it was Joe Biden."

Muller added that when he was 10, he wanted to be the US President, which at the time would have been Jimmy Carter.

"I've adjusted that slightly - I've got a different goal now."

Having been born in Te Aroha, he wouldn't be eligible anyway.