John McAfee wants you to know he’s dead serious about running for President.
You'd be forgiven for being skeptical. McAfee, who describes himself as an “eccentric millionaire,” made a killing in the early ‘90s when he departed from his namesake anti-virus software company. Since 2012, McAfee has mostly made headlines for his action-movie-like exploits in Central America, where he was wanted for questioning (not as a suspect) by Belizean police in the murder of his neighbor. So when his presidential campaign came out of nowhere this week, it felt like a stunt at least in part.
First, TPM obtained a Sept. 7 email in which McAfee announced his intention to run for President. Then he filed his statement of candidacy with the FEC the next day and launched a new website. A campaign announcement video followed Wednesday night. Curiously, the software pioneer didn’t utter the standard, if banal, phrase “I’m running for President” on either the campaign site or in the announcement video.
“It just appears obvious to me,” McAfee told TPM in a Thursday phone interview when asked why he didn’t say those magic words. “But again, what is obvious to me isn’t always obvious to the American public.”
McAfee may become less of an enigma to U.S. voters in the coming weeks during what is sure to be an unconventional campaign. He says he doesn’t plan on hitting the trail or debating any other candidates. What he proposes instead is something of a direct line between candidate and voter, facilitated by the Internet technology he’s mastered over the course of his career, where the American people can follow him and debate him freely over the web.
“I do not intend to go on the campaign trail and shake hands and kiss babies,” he told TPM. “I intend to run a brand new sort of campaign entirely based on wherever I am.”
What follows is a lightly edited transcript of TPM’s conversation with McAfee.
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