(The following was originally published in Al-Jazeera America.)
“MANCHESTER, N.H. — Vermin Supreme is sidled up to a bowl of cottage pie in a dimly lit bar here in Manchester. A half-dozen ties dangle from his neck, and the black rubber boot he wears as a hat is resting in his lap. Suddenly, two young men interrupt him: “Excuse us, Mr. President, can we get a photo?” Supreme gladly obliges, hoisting the boot onto his head for the photo op.
“Sometimes, you get the feeling that it could happen, I could be president, just because of the excitement of people on the street,” the Democratic presidential candidate says. “It creates this incredible illusion that they’re joining my delusions. It’s a beautiful thing that so many people are willing to suspend disbelief.”
Vermin Supreme is probably the most colorful candidate canvassing New Hampshire in advance of the presidential primary on Tuesday. But he’s not alone on the undercard. Beneath the nationally televised debates and the front-page headlines lies a host of lesser-known candidates trying – with varying degrees of success – to get their message out to voters. Some are running for the Democratic or Republican nominations but don’t have enough of a following to garner national attention. Others are running on third-party tickets, or positioning themselves as independent alternatives.”