Kanye West sparks controversy at first presidential rally, discussing abortion and Harriet Tubman
CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Kanye West, the latest candidate to announce his presidential bid, held his first campaign rally Sunday — despite rumors he already dropped out of the race. The rapper emerged in front of the crowd, decked out in a security vest and with “2020” shaved into the back of his head.
Shortly after the rally ended, Kanye West was already trending on Twitter as fans reacted to the topics he discussed — including abortion, Harriet Tubman and a potential divorce with Kim Kardashian.
During the event, West told the crowd Tubman “never actually freed the slaves.” Instead, he suggested, she “just had the slaves go work for other white people.”
The line drew mixed reactions from the crowd, some falling in silence with others gasping. One attendee tweeted a video of the moment, with her voice in the background saying, “We’re leaving right now.”
Kanye said this and I left immediately. I went for a laugh and I got one. But when it got disrespectful for me it was over. pic.twitter.com/nNqjUp03mu
— Toe Knee (@toekneerlynos) July 19, 2020
The moment wasn’t the first time West addressed slavery, suggesting “slavery was a choice” during a 2018 interview with TMZ.
West also discussed abortion — which is often a key policy issue among presidential candidates — emotionally recalling his initial decision to not have his daughter North.
“I almost killed my daughter,” West said loudly through tears. Just moments before, West shared how his father wanted to abort him — sharing a personal story on how his mother saved him.
Kanye West holds his first rally
The rally was held in Charleston, South Carolina — a state where West is currently urging voters to sign a petition to get him on the state’s general election ballot.
If successful, West would have his name on at least two ballots for the November election — qualifying for the Oklahoma ballot Wednesday, Oklahoma State Election Board confirmed in a tweet. West secured his name on the ballot on the filing deadline for Independent candidates.
Independent presidential candidate Kanye West has qualified for the General Election ballot in Oklahoma. (Today is Oklahoma’s deadline for Independent & Unrecognized Party presidential candidates to file statements of candidacy with their petitions or filing fee.)
— Oklahoma State Election Board (@OKelections) July 15, 2020
The rally comes roughly a week after rumors the rapper had dropped out of the race, with West’s adviser Steve Kramer telling The Intelligencer, “He’s out.”
However, West has been active on his Twitter account urging fans to sign petitions to get him on more ballots. He already missed the filing deadlines for New York, Texas, North Carolina, Maine, New Mexico and Indiana.
West unveils new campaign platform
West originally announced his presidential bid July 4 in a tweet, without information on his campaign or which party he would running for. Since then, he told Forbes he would be the candidate for the Birthday Party — because “when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday…. When I’m president, let’s also have some fun.”
In the same interview, West announced he no longer supports President Donald Trump — noting he was “taking the red hat off.”
This comes as a sharp turn, as West has previously been an open supporter of the 45th president.
He also gave a clearer image of what his campaign platform would focus on. West said he would base the West Administration organizational model on Wakanda — a fictional country featured in Marvel’s “The Black Panther.”
West also denounced Planned Parenthood and noted he was suspicious of any potential coronavirus vaccine — calling vaccinations “the mark of the beast.”
Two-and-a-half weeks after West’s initial announcement for his presidential run, the rapper has gained some — albeit small — traction in the polls.
The poll showed Joe Biden and President Trump leading far ahead at 48% and 39% respectively.
Biden 48% (+8)
Jorgensen (L) 1%
Hawkins (G) 1%
— Political Polls (@PpollingNumbers) July 13, 2020
It seems unlikely West will make it to the White House. However, some polling experts say not to discount how he could affect the presidential race.
In fact, the country saw it happen before in 2016, according to pollster Terrance Woodbury.
“I do not want to take Kanye West seriously,” Woodbury, a partner at HIT Strategies, told The Washington Post. “But I know that we have to.”
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