Photo: Michael Wyke / Michael Wyke / AP / Shutterstock
On July 4, Kanye West tweeted that he was running for president. He was treated as one of his typical grandiloquent statements. The tweet sparked many opinion pieces, cable news segments, and even a question in an Oval Office interview with Donald Trump. But most people rejected it. In a follow-up interview with Forbes, West pledged, if elected, to lead the White House as the Wakanda Nation of Black Panther. This remark seemed to reinforce the idea that it was only a lark. After all, West had previously compared himself to characters varying from God to Willy Wonka without trying to establish the Kingdom of Heaven or make an eternal Gobstopper.
But this time may – at least for a moment – be different. Several campaign professionals who interviewed Intelligencer say West took the first steps last week to get his name on the ballot in Florida and other states as a third-party candidate against Joe Biden and Donald Trump .
On Wednesday July 8, around the time West tweeted and deleted an image of a six month gestation fetus with the caption “these souls deserve to live”, I was in contact with a source who had been approached to work for the rapper’s presidential campaign. The source, who asked not to be named, was a political agent who had experience in this type of work. I was extremely skeptical – but after speaking with this person and others, I was convinced that West (or someone close to him) was at least playing with a real plan to build a campaign operation .
The source had been approached to travel to Florida on behalf of West to help collect the signatures necessary to vote in the state before the July 15 deadline. This person received $ 5,000 for the week’s work. In order to qualify for the Sunshine State ballot, West would need to collect 132,781 valid signatures from Florida voters in less than a week.
On the morning of July 9, TMZ reported that West’s family was concerned that the billionaire rapper was suffering from a bipolar episode based on his presidential aspirations. The well-stocked tabloid website added: “Our sources say that his family and loved ones are worried, but they believe that things will stabilize as in the past. “
Later that day, I spoke to Steve Kramer. He is an exit specialist who runs a business that also helps candidates run on the ballot box. Kramer, who worked primarily for Democratic candidates but also had Republican clients, told me that he had been hired to help West participate in the Florida and South Carolina ballots. He added that, according to him, the West team “worked over the weekend there, formalizing the FEC and other things it should do when many corporate lawyers were involved.”
The signature collection process has been described as being underway, and Kramer said, “We have overwhelming support to get him to vote.” He added, “Whether or not someone votes for him depends on him.” Kramer described the effort as including paid and voluntary efforts to obtain signatures. “They have a lot of people that they have on both the volunteer side and the contractual side,” said Kramer.
It all seemed pretty real, and I contacted the West publicist for an answer. The initial response was to send another spokesperson over the email. The West team then became dark. While I was waiting for an answer, I followed Kramer who said to me, “He is out.”
I asked what had happened. “I’ll let you know what I know once all of our stuff is canceled.” We had over 180 people there today, ”said Kramer.
About an hour after the exchange, West posted a video on Twitter of the rapper registering to vote for the first time at the office of the clerk of Cody County, Wyoming. The video started with West saying to the audience, “I want to show you how I just signed up to vote.” He then posted the text “I thank God and I am so humble for the opportunity to serve.” Vote, “before showing West to fill out his registration form. He then engaged in a brief conversation with a local official about the deprivation of the rights of criminals.
Thursday evening, when I finally connected with Kramer, he was philosophical. “I have nothing good or bad to say about Kanye. Everyone has their own decision as to why they make decisions. Running for president must be one of the most difficult things for someone at this level to contemplate. He noted the hurdles a candidate faces for the first time, and “every presidential candidate for the first time goes through these hiccups.”
Kramer noted that the staff he had hired were disappointed not only because they would be unemployed, but also because they were excited about what a Kanye West campaign represented.
On Friday, West tweeted an exchange of text messages with radio host Charlemagne Tha God, a song by Kid Cudi starring Eminem, and a handwritten note titled “YEEZY SOUND ROSTER PROPOSAL”. Meanwhile, the deadline to enter the Nevada ballot has passed.
It may not happen this year, but West could certainly run for president in the future. Donald Trump repeatedly flirted with a presidential candidacy before his now infamous descent into the golden escalator in 2015. West’s ambitions to be a presidential candidate should probably be taken more seriously than his ambitions to be Willy Wonka .