It’s still not clear if Kanye West was serious about his White House run, which, it appears, has petered out after just 10 days, with just one Forbes magazine interview and one tweet to show for his efforts.
Though spokespeople for West have not returned repeated requests for comment on the reported end of his purported third-party presidential bid — NYMag’s Intelligencer reported July 14 that his campaign has wound down after he tried, and failed, to get on Florida’s ballot — plenty of West’s friends and fellow artists found time to weigh in on the brief, quixotic effort.
Since his July 4 announcement, he’s gotten the support of at least two A-listers, but, if unscientific polling numbers hold up, twice as many no votes from famous detractors. To be fair, other than saying he was running for office, West never appeared to make any concrete attempts to launch a viable campaign, including the most basic steps of filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission or entering the race before crucial deadlines to get on state ballots. [Editor’s note: shortly before this story was published, an FEC Form 1 filed under the name Kanye 2020 posted on the FEC site, listing a Cody, Wyoming, address, BDY (Birthday) as the affiliated third party and West as its Presidential candidate. A spokesperson for the FEC confirmed that they were in receipt of the Statement of Organization form under that name but could not verify the legitimacy of the filing at press time; an FEC Form 2 (Statement of Candidacy) — filed once an individual has raised or spent more than $5,000 in campaign activity, triggering candidacy status under federal campaign finance law — had not been recorded at press time. Billboard has reached out to the treasurer/custodian of records listed on the form for confirmation that it was filed on West’s behalf.]
Here’s what some famous folks have publicly said about voting for him.
Whether West was serious or not about trying to unseat his former MAGA mate, President Donald Trump, he appeared to get a thumbs-up from his old friend Chance the Rapper, who posted a series of tweets on Monday (July 13) in which he threw shade at presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the two-party system.
“Are u more pro biden or anti ye and why? I get that you’ll want to reply that you’re just tryna ‘get trump out’ but in this hypothetical scenario where you’re replacing Trump, can someone explain why Joe Biden would be better??” Chance asked. He later answered his own question after getting more than 7,700 retweets and comments within hours, many of which questioned the seriousness of West’s reported run.
“I also always felt a way about people using the word ‘presidential,'” he tweeted in the spree that never actually mentioned West or specifically endorsed the alleged campaign. “Like a n—a acting or not acting presidential. Was Andrew Jackson acting presidential??” He then asked his followers how they feel about prison abolition, universal basic housing and reparations for Black Americans.
Tesla/SpaceX founder Elon Musk was for West’s professed campaign before he was against it, then for it again. After Ye tweeted on Independence Day that he was running for president, Musk commented, “You have my full support!” That unqualified backing lasted 72 hours, appearing to vanish just after the West Forbes interview in which the rapper shared that he had never voted, railed against vaccines and unveiled his only solid platform plank: a plan to run the nation like the fictional Black utopia Wakanda in the Marvel movie Black Panther.
After a Twitter user commented “C’mon Elon — you’re way too intelligent for this BS,” Musk posted, then deleted, a tweet in which he wrote, “We may have more differences of opinion than I anticipated.” But on July 13, Musk seemed to be back on the Yeezy train, reportedly telling Page Six, “Kanye explained afterward some of the reasoning behind why he said what he said [in the Forbes interview]. It makes more sense than many people, including me, realized … I have not dropped my support for Kanye, although I think 2024 would be better than 2020.”
Those two tepid endorsements appeared to be the sum total of West’s backing — though a Redfield & Wilton Strategies survey of 2,000 registered voters in the U.S. found that a surprising 2 percent of respondents were willing to back him — with even his wife, Kim Kardashian West, offering a halfhearted backing with a single retweet of Kanye’s July 4th missive alongside an American flag emoji.
Jamie Foxx minced no words in decrying West while responding to a tweet from NBA player Stephen Jackson, who shared a picture of West and Trump hugging on Instagram alongside a tweet from DJ Hed. “No more voting for celebrities who’ve never held public office.. If you wouldn’t hire a plumber to work on the electrical wiring in your house why would you vote this way ?” the July 6 post read. “America’s obsession with fame / celebrity is the endgame.”
Foxx’s thoughts? “”Gottda– right!!! Ain’t got time for the bullsh–!!!”
Katy Perry commented on the matter during an interview with Hits Radio Breakfast in the U.K., saying, “What we’ve learned looking back is that the presidential job is best suited for someone with experience and that is a pro in their field. And I think we have seen and learned from experience that when we don’t have pros in position that it can get a little wild … Listen, I love Kanye. He is amazing. I just love him as an artist. And I think he’s an incredible disruptor as an artist, and a conversation-maker as an artist and that’s what I love the most about him.”
Comedian-actress Tiffany Haddish mocked Kanye’s tweet, changing the last sentence to announce her own non-starter campaign: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I too am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION.”
In an interview with Billboard, rapper 50 Cent had no time for West’s professed political aspirations, calling them a “diversion” in this crucial election year. “I’m going to contemplate running myself. I’m going to run to create a diversion for someone else,” 50 said mockingly. “The new thing is to run to create a diversion and distract people. Would you run against someone who just gave you $2 million?” (According to Forbes, West’s YEEZY company received more than $2 million through Trump’s Paycheck Protection Program, which reportedly saved more than 100 jobs.)
“Remember the last president called you a jackass,” 50 added, in reference to the time former President Barack Obama blasted West for his 2009 antics, which included interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMAs. “Maybe that’s why you embrace this one.”
Actor and Band of Ghosts singer Eric Balfour wasn’t amused either. He tweeted in response to West’s announcement: “Do you guys think this is all a joke? That potentially pulling votes away from the only nominee who can defeat Donald Trump is cute or funny? This is the height of privilege ultimately it won’t hurt you, you’re wealthy enough to survive 4 more years of Trump!”
One of West’s friends with the most experience advocating on behalf of a variety of social justice causes, John Legend, also issued a sober warning about electing inexperienced people to the highest office in a series of tweets. He didn’t name Ye directly, but reminded anyone considering a third-party run to seriously consider the implications of their actions during these challenging times.
“This is not merely an intellectual exercise. It’s life and death,” Legend tweeted about running in the midst of a raging global pandemic and a seriously damaged domestic economy. “Reporters always ask me if more artists should speak out about politics. I always say ummmmmm not necessarily,” Legend continued in a winkingly self-aware statement.
“And the real world implications of electing (or reelecting) someone who doesn’t know how to run the government are particularly urgent and impactful in the middle of a pandemic that’s been so much more deadly due to an incompetent President,” Legend wrote, again not naming names, but making what appeared to be a clear reference to real-estate magnate and reality star Trump, who entered office with no political experience and whose politically charged response to the pandemic has coincided with the United States landing at the top of the list of countries with the most cases and deaths to date.
DJ Vlad weighed in as well, tweeting, “If Kanye is actually running for President (and not doing his usual trolling to promote a new album) then the REAL reason he’s doing it is to split the Democratic vote, which would pull votes away from Biden in order to help Trump get elected. Grimy.”