Watch: Kanye West breaks down in tears at first presidential campaign rally

20 July 2020, 09:16

The rapper was clad in body armour with "2020" shaved into his head
The rapper was clad in body armour with "2020" shaved into his head. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Rapper Kanye West has broken down in tears during a bizarre presidential campaign rally where he ranted against abortion and pornography and argued policy with attendees.

The former Trump supporter left fans confused as to whether his bid for the West Wing is genuine or a publicity stunt to help sell albums or merchandise.

Clad in body armour with "2020" shaved into his head the rapper delivered an odd series of remarks during the event at a Charleston, South Carolina, wedding venue and convention centre.

His lengthy monologue touched on various topics from abortion and religion to international trade and licensing deals in his first event since declaring himself a presidential candidate.

Without a microphone, West addressed a rowdy audience, demanding complete silence before asserting that future events “will be in rooms where the acoustics will be incredible because I will be involved with the design”.

West repeatedly referenced the terms of his deal with Adidas, his faith in God and racism in the US, including an assertion that “[abolitionist] Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves, she just had the slaves go work for other white people”.

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 of one of his policies.

The campaign he launched with a July 4 tweet has already missed several deadlines to appear on key state ballots.

It appeared several hundred supporters 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".

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.