US President Barack Obama offered advice to Kanye West on the rapper’s improbable White House bid — telling him that reality TV might be good training for Washington.
West, who has declared with an unclear degree of seriousness that he will run for president in 2020, was performing at a fundraiser for Obama’s Democratic Party in San Francisco.
Addressing supporters who paid up to $10,000 a ticket, teased that he had campaign advice for West, who is married to reality television star Kim Kardashian.
“First of all, you’ve got to spend a lot of time dealing with some strange characters who behave like they’re on a reality TV show,” Obama said to laughter.
Obama joked that the background of West — like Obama, an African-American who spent formative years in Chicago — may not be entirely far-fetched for the presidency.
“Do you really think that this country is going to elect a black guy from the South Side of Chicago with a funny name to be president of the United States? That is crazy,” Obama said to applause.
But Obama noted that the title of one of West’s albums may prove to be a political liability.
“Saying you have a ‘Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ — that’s what’s known as ‘off-message’ in politics,” Obama said, referring to West’s chart-topping 2010 album.
Obama did not resist taking a jab at the rival Republican Party, whose leadership in the House of Representatives is in disarray, saying that he heard “Kanye is thinking of running for speaker of the House.”
West, who is known for his brash self-confidence and has likened himself to Michelangelo, declared in August at the MTV Video Music Awards that he plans to run for president in 2020.
The rapper’s aspirations earlier won unlikely praise from real estate mogul Donald Trump, the acerbic front-runner in the Republican presidential race for 2016.
Trump told Rolling Stone magazine last month that he found West to be a “nice guy,” adding: “I hope to run against him someday.”