Hip-hop mogul Kanye West took over the internet on Sunday when he concluded a lengthy VMA acceptance speech with a declaration.
“Yes, as you probably could have guessed in this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president,” said West, who accepted a lifetime-achievement award from pop star Taylor Swift.
Not even 24 hours after West’s announcement, one of his fans, Eugene Craig, a 24-year-old Republican activist from Maryland, filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to create a PAC called “Ready for Kanye.”
Business Insider spoke to Craig on Tuesday to find out why he was so quick to pull the trigger. He said he saw an opportunity and immediately seized it. He thinks the biggest asset West would bring to an election is getting people who never were involved before to vote.
Craig’s goal in all this: Reach a whole new group of people, using West as a vessel.
“This is a great opportunity to gather information. We want to get young voters, minority voters – young minority voters,” he said.
“If people are hip-hop fans, if they’re Kanye fans, or even listen to music at all, they’re way more likely to vote if Kanye is involved,” he added.
But Craig thinks West has a chance to win, too – and he cited the surge of another celebrity candidate as proof that it’s possible.
“In the age of Donald Trump anything is possible,” Craig said. “And if I compared Trump and West you have one person who would shrink the Republican Party, and one person who would expand it – it’s something worth looking at.”
Though he theoretically could raise money to support a potential West campaign, Craig said he’s lasering in on gathering voter support at the moment.
- Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Here’s the transcript of our conversation with Craig.
Business Insider: Why did you decide to start this PAC, and why so early?
Eugene Craig: You have to get it when then the iron is hot. I hope Mr. West decides to run for president if there is no republican incumbent. He brings a whole new aspect from people who are cross-cultural. The VMA win and the announcement make his stock very high.
BI: Do you believe West has a chance to win? What makes him a good candidate?
EC: In the age of Donald Trump anything is possible. He’d bring an interesting perspective to the race. Providing there is no Republican president, he could market them to a whole new segment of the voting population. He would absolutely increase voter turnout. If I could compare Trump and West, you have one person who would shrink the Republican Party, and one person who would expand it – it’s something worth looking at. If people are hip-hop fans, if they’re Kanye fans, or even listen to music at all, they’re way more likely to vote if Kanye is involved. He’s pro-small business. He’s been the conscience of an entire generation for a long time. He’d bring a hugely different perspective. If Katrina and Taylor Swift never happened, the world would have a totally different perspective on Kanye. He’d bring a hugely different perspective.
BI: What was your reaction when you initially saw Kanye announce?
EC: I watched it live. I sat on it for a little bit, then said why not jump out in front and get ahead of it. We have a huge opportunity here.
BI: What are your goals for the PAC? Will you reach out to Kanye and be officially affiliated?
EC: Our biggest goal is to gather data and voter information. If we could find a way to reach out to him that would be amazing, but we’ll wait and see what happens. We aren’t planning to raise any money as of right now, but this is a great opportunity to gather information. We want to get young voters minority voters, young minority votes.
BI: Who would be Kanye’s perfect running mate?
EC: Some people think Jay Z would be great. I think he would actually pick a politician.
BI: Do you think Kanye really plans to pursue this? What if he runs as a Democrat?
EC: We’re going to push this pretty hard. The iron is sizzling – we’ll see where it goes, more so now than later. It wouldn’t be a waste of time if he ran as a Democrat. One of our biggest goals is trying to get people out to vote this provides a vehicle for it.
BI: What’s your favorite Kanye song?
EC: “Never Let Me Down.” When I first listened to the album [“The College Dropout”], it resonated with me. It speaks to the conscience of Kanye West. People that aren’t Kanye fans don’t understand Kanye West. The guy is no dummy. People don’t get that. His grandma was civil-rights pioneer, and his mom was a professor.