Election 2016

America's Strangest Presidential Candidates

The field is more crowded than you think.

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The presidential field is even more crowded than you think. Wade through the filings on the Federal Election Commission's website, and you'll find nearly 400 candidates who don't stand a chance of winning. Some are running to make a statement. Some are running to make a joke. And some are literally crazy. Here are a few of the fringier contestants in the field:

1. HRM Caesar St. Augustine de Buonaparte. The Absolute Dictator Party's candidate may not have the strangest name to be found on the FEC's site—that honor probably belongs to "Sydney's Voluptuous Buttocks," who has adopted the slogan "every politician is an asshole so what's the difference?"—but his Statement of Candidacy may be the oddest form ever filed with the FEC. Looking more like a punk zine than a bureaucratic document, it is filled with images like this:

Are you sure this isn't a flyer for a Social Distortion show?
HRM Caesar St. Augustine de Buonaparte

The self-proclaimed emperor doesn't seem to be campaigning much, unless you count the occasional updates on what purports to be his Facebook page. (I say "purports to be" because it's not clear whether the page is run by the candidate himself or a fan.) But he did upload some clips to YouTube during his last presidential campaign, and I've embedded one of those below. Shot in a room that looks like it might be in a bus station, the speech does not follow the usual patterns of political oratory. After explaining that he will refuse all interview requests unless "it's unedited, uncut, uncensored, and it's gotta be by the national news media," the emperor goes on to tell us that all the major politicians are—this is the word he uses—"niggers." And so is everyone watching the video, "because we all die on our death bed and watch our offspring fight over our money."

About three and a half minutes in, a couple of little kids wander behind de Buonaparte as he tells us that "you're all the devil." A little later he explains his plans to replace any government employee who does not have an IQ of at least 150. And in case you were wondering how he feels about the Bilderbergers, he's against them. Here's the whole thing:

To see more of the emperor's videos, go here.

2. Tami Stainfield. Ms. Stainfield's Statement of Candidacy isn't as wild as Emperor de Buonaparte's, but her videos are even stranger. Stranger and sadder. This clip, made during her previous presidential campaign in 2012, features a guest appearance by "the men who occupy my brain," who address the camera in a language the candidate cannot identify. Emperor de Buonaparte's cocky craziness is sure to strike a lot of viewers as funny, but watching Ms. Stainfield you just hope she can get the help she needs:

Ms. Stainfield is also an admirer of Alexis de Tocqueville. To see more from her YouTube channel, go here.

3. Donald Trump. Mr. Trump has not actually filed a Statement of Candidacy with the FEC, so he is not, as of yet, as serious a candidate as Ms. Stainfield or Emperor de Buonaparte. But he did make a formal announcement yesterday that he is seeking the presidency, and a number of enablers reportedly showed up to watch it live. His speech to them was full of de Buonaparte–worthy lines, as when he complained that ISIS has entered the hotel business or when he asked, "When did we beat Japan at anything?" (He also offered this description of Mexican immigrants: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.")

Like Ms. Stainfield and Emperor de Buonaparte, Trump has a YouTube channel. But his interest in video actually goes back before that website existed, and he attracted some notoriety a little over a decade ago on a pre-YouTube service called NBC. Here is one of his old clips:

Mr. Trump has also mucked about in the business world, with mixed success, and he maintains a lively Twitter feed.

To explore the FEC's presidential filings for yourself, go here.