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“Isn’t one Republican governor enough?” asks Larry Sharpe, another candidate for the vice presidency, during a debate with Weld. Or as Starchild, an “erotic services provider” and delegate from California who is dressed in tight swimming trunks and a see-through raincoat on which he has written “Demand Transparency”, puts it to me, “If you take on too much water from starboard, you keel over further and further, until eventually you’re sunk.”

Johnson’s two main rivals for the candidacy represent two distinct strands of libertarianism. Austin Petersen is barely eligible for the presidency (you need to be 35 and Petersen has yet to turn 40) but, as he is fond of pointing out, youth never stopped the founding fathers getting things done. He studied drama at college and, in the cadence and structure of his speech, treats even the humblest of hustings as if it is the Gettysburg Address. He has spent all of his adult life in the libertarian movement and his candidacy represents a doctrinaire approach favoured by many in Orlando. Where Johnson hesitates, Petersen is unflinching: abolish the Federal Reserve, leave the United Nations.

Seventy-year-old anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee, an unexpected, and for the Johnson camp unpredictable addition to the field, represents a looser coalition defined less by ideological common ground, and more by a vague desire to be the craziest guys in the room. For the party to nominate McAfee would be to elect a Trump of their own, a newcomer to the party with ever-shifting policy positions and a colourful past sure to deter swaths of voters.

In the build-up to the convention, McAfee releases several slick campaign videos that you can imagine going down well with Americans whose view of the world is shaped by conspiracy-theory videos on YouTube. “Exit Politics” slices between images of senior politicians and US soldiers, clips from official government videos — “Hi, my name is Rachel and I’m from the IRS” — and footage of brainwashed citizens marching to work and to war. Behind this is an unsettling, sometimes jarring, techno beat. The message is: “There’s a virus in our system . . . Politics is power. Politics is lies. Politics is force. Politics is dying. Kill politics so it can be reborn. Be a Libertarian.”

His appeal, as one delegate put it to me, is that he “doesn’t just talk libertarianism, he lives it. You should read about all the crazy shit that has happened to him.”  I assume he is referring to McAfee’s Belize years. To cut a long story short, the multi-millionaire built himself a home on an island in Belize in 2008. He lived with seven girlfriends, one of whom tried to shoot him. In 2012 his neighbour was murdered and McAfee was named as a person of interest in the case. He denies any involvement in the killing (not something that is helpful for a presidential candidate to have to clear up). Instead, he claims to have got on the wrong side of the authorities by refusing to offer the kickbacks and protection money they expected from him. McAfee then went on the lam, disguising himself as a poor Guatemalan who sold dolphin carvings, dying his beard, darkening his skin with shoe polish and, as he put it in a blog about his escape, stuffing “a shaved tampon up my right nostril, giving my nose an awkward, disgusting lopsided appearance”. Bizarre, but to a certain type of man of a certain age, heroic. Some of those admirers have made it to Orlando, and wander around their first political convention in T-shirts that read “McAfee. Let Life Live.”

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