There is just about every shade of politics you can imagine represented by the people who run for president.
There is Vermin Supreme, the perennial candidate who wears a boot for a hat and wants to give everyone free ponies. Or 89-year-old Mike Gravel, a former senator from Alaska who allows two teens to run his antiwar candidacy. And there's Seven the Dog, whose principal campaign committee is the "Puppy Party -- Friends of Seven the Dog."
Yes, they all are running.
Including two dozen prominent candidates running for the Democratic nomination, more than 700 people have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run. (Some, we hope, are in jest, like Chocolate Pancakes of Manchester, Conn.)
Qualifying is easy -- an individual must be at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen and a U.S. resident for at least 14 years. Filing is a cakewalk -- presidential hopefuls need to fill out a statement of candidacy with the FEC, which is free to do.
And so hundreds have filed: 279 as Democrats, 107 as Republicans, 34 as Libertarians, 156 as independents and others under names such as the Independent Conservative Democratic Party, American People's Freedom Party or the George Wallace Party.
The majority are running long-shot campaigns most voters will never hear about. Some acknowledge they have little hope of gaining traction. Other candidates think, just maybe, there's a shot that their message might catch on.
But it's not likely. Those seeking the Democratic or Republican or third-party nominations must earn the support of delegates during state caucuses and primaries to have a shot at the national nominating convention. Candidates striking out on their own as independents must petition each state and Washington, D.C., to get on the ballot.
Many candidates say they are running solely to draw attention to issues such as the marginalization of Native Americans, taxation or promoting a progressive agenda. Others think the two-party system is damaging and want third parties to be a part of the election conversation.
Here are a few who have filed to run: