Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, rapper Kanye West declared his candidacy for US president.
The unlikely challenger to Donald Trump – of whom he has been a vocal supporter – and Joe Biden, chose American independence day to make the surprise announcement on Twitter, triggering a social media storm.
“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future,” West wrote. “I am running for president of the United States.”
The post was accompanied by a stars and stripes flag, an exclamation mark and “#2020VISION”. His wife, Kim Kardashian West, replied to the tweet with an American flag.
With just four months to go before polling day on 3 November, it was not clear whether West’s tweet would have been more fitting on April Fools’ day than American Independence Day.Nor was it clear whether the 43-year-old had filed any official paperwork to appear on state election ballots. The deadline to add independent candidates to the ballot has not yet passed in many states. But after businessman and reality TV star Trump won the White House in 2016, perhaps the idea of Kim Kardashian as first lady could be written in the stars as America’s fate.
And West, a 21-time Grammy award winner, picked up an immediate endorsement from Elon Musk, the chief executive of electric-car maker Tesla and another celebrity known for eccentric outbursts, who tweeted in reply: “You have my full support!”
A West-Musk ticket is not what anyone was expecting in an election that has already delivered a cornucopia of the unexpected.
West and his wife have visited Trump in the White House to discuss prison reform. At one bizarre meeting in 2018, West wore a red “Make America Great Again” cap and uttered words such as “motherfucker” and “infinite amounts of universe”. He said Trump made him feel like Superman, hugged him and declared: “I love this guy right here.”
Asked if West could be a future presidential candidate, Trump replied: “Could very well be.”
West replied: “Only after 2024. Let’s stop worrying about the future. All we really have is today. We just have today.”
Indeed, the rapper has floated the idea of running for president before. In January last year, a tweet that said simply “2024” was interpreted as a sign that he would run for the White House that year.
West was criticised last week after declaring: “I am so proud of my beautiful wife Kim Kardashian West for officially becoming a billionaire.” She had sold a stake in her beauty brand for $200m. But he also earned praise for releasing a single about racism and religion.
If he ran, West would follow in a long tradition of independent or third-party campaigns challenging the Democratic and Republican stranglehold. In 1992, Ross Perot, an eccentric Texan billionaire, took 19% of the vote. In 2000, Ralph Nader’s Green party took less than 3% but was widely blamed for costing Democrat Al Gore the presidency.