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Kanye West’s Perplexing Run as a Potential 2020 Election Spoiler

  • September 17, 2020

“Winning the presidency can come down to a razor-thin margin in a single or handful of states,” Steffen Weiss, the managing director of research science for Morning Consult, said in an email. “Any independent candidate on the ballot in a battleground state, Mr. West included, could be consequential in an otherwise close race.”

Mr. West first called a Times reporter for this article on Aug. 11, close to midnight on the East Coast but a couple of hours earlier in Cody, Wyo., where he lives. He had just tweeted, “I’m willing to do a live interview with the New York Time about my meeting with Jared,” referring to a recent meeting he had with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, that The Times had inquired about.

During the call, Mr. West was upset and insisted on a live interview on Zoom, demanding that the editor of The Times be present as well, to which the Times reporter demurred.

“I’m Kanye, who are you?” Mr. West asked, adding, “I’m the head of everything.”

He also expressed anguish about abortion, said he didn’t reflexively support Democrats, and asked, “Does anyone at your magazine believe in Jesus?”

During a series of follow-up texts, Mr. West sent a video commentary about his candidacy from Mike Cernovich, a far-right activist, and also denounced a founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, as “an avowed racist” — she was recently disavowed by the group over her support for eugenics. He also sent myriad statistics about abortion rates among Black women, noting that they are higher than those for other ethnic groups, though the gap has been narrowing for years as abortion rates fall.

“Do you see abortion as the main reason you’re doing the presidential campaign?” he was asked in reply.

“How do these facts make you feel?” Mr. West texted back. “As a person.” “???”

Mr. West was later asked what he saw “as the purpose of the presidential campaign.”

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