At Kanye West‘s first apparent campaign event since announcing his run for the presidency, he broke down in tears, made outrageous claims about abolitionist Harriet Tubman, ejected an attendee, and said that everybody who has a baby should get a million dollars.
What We Know:
- West delivered a lengthy monologue, touching on topics from abortion and religion to international trade and licensing deals, before a crowd in North Charleston, South Carolina. Whether he is actually seeking the nation’s highest office remains a question.
- Among West’s most controversial statements at the event, he ranted against historical figure Harriet Tubman, saying the Underground Railroad conductor “never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people,” comments that drew shouts of opposition from some in the crowd.
- During his rambling speech that bounded from one topic to another with seemingly little structure, West broke down when sharing that he and wife Kim Kardashian West had considered an abortion, “I almost killed my daughter,” he said, sobbing. The couple now has four children. He then said his own father wanted to have him aborted. “There would have been no Kanye West… because my dad was too busy!” West sobbed.
- He went on to say that while he believes abortion should be legal, financial incentives to help struggling mothers could be a way to discourage the practice. “Everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars,” he said as an example. “The maximum increase would be everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars or something in that range,” said West. “If you had the opportunity to be given a million dollars, just for being pregnant, would you have considered it? And then everybody would start having children, the greatest gift of life.”
- Wearing a protective vest and with “2020” shaved into his head, the rapper appeared on a live stream of the event with several hundred people gathered in a venue. The event was reportedly for registered guests only, although a campaign website had no registration or RSVP information. Watch the event on Facebook.
- West demanded “absolute silence and absolute order,” and even asked audience members to point out anyone they heard talking. At one point, he scolded the crowd for clapping and had another audience member ejected for an unclear reason. He got into a heated exchange with a young woman he invited onstage to speak, although her comments were mostly inaudible.
- Across social media, fans and critics alike said the appearance has escalated concerns about West’s mental health. He has frequently said that he is bipolar and often disdains medication. He was hospitalized for stress and exhaustion and reportedly placed on psychiatric hold after several onstage rants during his “Saint Pablo” tour in late 2016.
Kanye West is not well. I am not saying that in a shaming way. He has been very public about his bipolar and calls it his superpower. Fame is not a help. I can’t help but believe that if he had stayed a pretty anonymous music producer he’d be in a better place. He needs support.
— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) July 20, 2020
- During the rapper’s speech, he also said that, as president, he wouldn’t challenge pharmaceutical companies because “they would kill” him and that he opposed gun control because “shooting guns is fun” and that the U.S. could be “enslaved” by China without firearms.
- West announced on Twitter that he’d be running for president on the Fourth of July. Politico reported that West filed an official statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission last week using The Birthday Campaign (BDY) as his political party affiliation.
We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States 🇺🇸! #2020VISION
— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020
- West has missed the deadline to qualify for the ballot in several states and it was unclear if he is willing or able to collect enough signatures required to qualify in others. On Saturday evening West tweeted his followers asking them to sign a petition to get him on the South Carolina ballot. Previously, West was able to get on the ballot in Oklahoma by paying a $35,000 fee before the cut-off deadline in lieu of getting a petition signature. The deadline to be added to the November ballot has passed in several U.S. states, while others have deadlines set in August and September.
According to an adviser to his campaign, the team will be announcing several more campaign events, including one in New York, in upcoming days.