Kanye West’s Fourth of July declaration, via Tweet, that he was running for president lit the internet on fire, even as pundits were trying to discern how serious he was. Over the course of four rambling hours of interviews on Tuesday, the billionaire rapper turned sneaker mogul revealed:
- That he’s running for president in 2020 under a new banner—the Birthday Party—with guidance from Elon Musk and an obscure vice presidential candidate he’s already chosen. “Like anything I’ve ever done in my life,” says West, “I’m doing to win.”
- That he no longer supports President Trump. “I am taking the red hat off, with this interview.”
- That he’s ok with siphoning off Black votes from the Democratic nominee, thus helping Trump. “I’m not denying it, I just told you. To say that the Black vote is Democratic is a form of racism and white supremacy.”
- That he’s never voted in his life.
- That he was sick with Covid-19 in February.
- That he’s suspicious of a coronavirus vaccine, terming vaccines “the mark of the beast.”
- That he believes “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.”
- That he envisions a White House organizational model based on the secret country of Wakanda in Black Panther.
And that’s just for starters. For much of the phone calls, his core message, strategically, was that he has 30 days to make a final decision about running for president. At that point, he says, he’d miss the filing deadline for most states, though he believes an argument could be made to get onto any ballots he’s missed, citing coronavirus issues. “I’m speaking with experts, I’m going to speak with Jared Kushner, the White House, with Biden,” says West. He has no campaign apparatus of any kind. His advisors right now, he says, are the two people who notably endorsed him on the Fourth: his wife Kim Kardashian-West, and Elon Musk, of whom he says, “We’ve been talking about this for years.” (Adds West: “I proposed to him to be the head of our space program.”)
An hour into the interview, the hedging was done: He says he definitely plans to run in 2020, versus his original plan in 2024. The campaign slogan: “YES!” His running mate? Michelle Tidball, an obscure preacher from Wyoming. And why the Birthday Party? “Because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday.”
If it all sounds like a parody, or a particularly surreal episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, West doesn’t seem to be in on it. Calling from his ranch near Cody, Wyoming, where he says that he registered to vote for the first time on Monday, West denies it is a publicity stunt for his upcoming album. (“I give my album away for free.”) A few weeks after he ended two separate text chains with me with the message “Trump 2020” and a fist raised high, he insists he’s lost confidence in the president. “It looks like one big mess to me,” he says. “I don’t…