Rapper Kanye West delivered a lengthy monologue touching on various topics from abortion and religion to international trade and licensing deals in his first event since declaring himself a presidential candidate.
Still, whether he is actually seeking the United States’ highest office remains a question.
West said while he believed 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.
Wearing a protective vest and with “2020” shaved into his head, the entertainer spoke before a crowd in North Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday. According to a livestream of the event, it appeared several hundred people had gathered in a venue, where gospel music played before West’s appearance.
The event was reportedly for registered guests only, although a campaign website had no registration or RSVP information. Speaking without a microphone, West became tearful at one point while talking about his mother, who died following plastic surgery complications in 2007.
He also ranted against historical civil rights figure Harriet Tubman, saying the Underground Railroad conductor “never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people”.
Those comments drew shouts of opposition from some in the crowd. Tubman is one of the most respected figures of 19th century America. An African American who escaped slavery, she helped enslaved black men and women travel north to freedom and fought for the Union during the Civil War. She later became a supporter of women’s suffrage.
West has missed the deadline to qualify for the ballot in several states, and it is unclear if he is willing or able to collect enough signatures required to qualify in others. However, he did issue a tweet on Sunday using wordplay to seemingly back up his comments on running for the White House, writing only “THE WEST WING”.
— ye (@kanyewest) July 19, 2020
Last week, he qualified to appear on Oklahoma’s presidential ballot, the first state where he met the requirements before the filing deadline. West needs to collect 10,000 signatures by noon on Monday to appear on the South Carolina ballot, according to state law.
The entertainer tweeted a list of locations around the Charleston area where petitions could be signed.
West, who is married to reality television star Kim Kardashian West, initially announced his candidacy on July 4.