Thousands of no-hopers line up to be next US president

27 January 2016 - 02:42 By Reuters

Michael Petyo is a carpenter, a US Navy veteran, a grandfather and Russian Orthodox church cantor who likes to boast about his home-made nut rolls. He also happens to be a candidate for president of the US. The 66-year-old Indiana man has no big financial backers, little political experience outside of two failed runs for Congress and his odds of winning are almost nil. But that has not stopped him from thinking he is the one to succeed President Barack Obama.Petyo is among a rising number of Americans who aspire to be president, due to what psychology experts describe as growing narcissism, distrust of leadership and the power of social media to reach the public.Joining more than 1500 others, according to the Federal Election Commission, Petyo admits he is a long shot, but figures he just needs some attention: "How do they know I'm not the next guy waiting in the wings?"The number of candidates seeking the White House has more than tripled from 417 in 2012. Their ranks include Susan Young, a California teacher aiming to give her students a lesson in democracy; Terry Jones, the Florida pastor known for organising Koran burnings, and anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee.These hopefuls are not a factor in polls that show businessman Donald Trump and US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas battling for the Republican nomination and US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading the Democratic field ahead of next month's Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.But a lack of attention has not diminished Petyo's enthusiasm.In an interview he espoused conspiracy theories, claiming the Internal Revenue Service's home is in Puerto Rico, al-Qaeda members who carried out the September 11 2001 attacks had help from inside the US government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is setting up detainment camps around the US.

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