MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) — Most 2020 presidential and vice presidential candidates focus on issues like health care, workers' rights, and immigration to win over voters. Spike Cohen is no different.
The Myrtle Beach native just has a unique set of solutions.
"We are giving you free ponies," Cohen said, explaining a central national security proposal. "We're also going to arm them with 20 millimeter vulcan cannons."
He also wants to build a Waffle House on every corner (he calls it a blatant act of cronyism), travel back in time to prevent World War II (by assassinating a few world leaders) and legalize recreational plutonium.
"It's your body, just stay away from me for the next 35,000 years," he added.
Yes, he's serious.
"We've been accused of doing this as some kind of satirical campaign. That we're trying to shed light on the fact that that this entire system is a joke," he said. "This is a ridiculous accusation. I reject it entirely. We're of course perfectly serious about our entire platform."
By "we," Cohen is referring to the man at the top of his ticket, Vermin Supreme, who is famous for wearing a boot on his head and making a run for the White House every four years. Supreme is not from South Carolina.
This year, Supreme is running as a Libertarian. According to Cohen, he's won every online and official poll the party has taken since his campaign began.
Cohen said his political career began when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2016. He quit his job and began an online video talk show dedicated to freedom and his Jewish heritage.
He invited Supreme onto his show and the rest was history.
Despite the satire-laced platform, Cohen said the two have a serious message: it's impossible for a third party to have a legitimate shot at the highest offices in the federal government.
"The chips are stacked against us from the president down to the congress to most major media," Cohen said.
He was citing decades of sincere candidates failing to gain traction at the polls.
"It's the system that's a joke and it treats us as a joke and it treats the idea of having more than two options as a joke." he explained. "We're changing the punch line by trolling the system."
In between the Waffle House meet-and-greets with supporters, the two drop their calls for free cheesy bread and badgers (they won't explain the latter any further) to listen to potential voters in under served communities.
"We're there to talk to them about the oppression that they face," he said.
Coastal Carolina University Assistant Professor of Politics Drew Kurlowski acknowledged that the system makes it hard for a third candidate.
When a smaller party gets popular, he explained, a larger party will absorb the main ideas into its platform.
"It's an important function for third parties to bring attention to issues that might be underappreciated by the major parties," he said.
He said Americans are drawn to political satire as a relief from the seriousness of everyday campaigning, pointing to Pat Paulsen and Stephen Colbert as figures who have used humor to get a point across during past election cycles.
The effects, he said, are both positive and negative. While voters tend to be more in tune with political issues and current events, Kurlowski explained that they also hold more negative views of the satirical candidate's target.
"We feel that government is less effective," he added. "The government is usually the object of that satire."
Many things will be in Supreme and Cohen's cross hairs when they travel to New Hampshire for the primaries.
"We'll have a bigger bus than anyone else," Cohen said, with more supporters and ponies than the other candidates to top it off.